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sukhasana: sit like a yogi

Of the many asanas we practice today, Patanjali, the scribe of the ancient Yoga Sutras, wrote about just one: Sukhasana or seated posture (also known as easy pose). This asana is perhaps the most important one in yoga yet it is rarely ever taught. Following are a few simple tips to help you sit like a yogi with ease.

Sukhasana means easy pose, so it should be just that -- easy! If you follow the below instructions and it does not feel good to sit, lay down. Comfort is a priority during pranayama and meditation; you don’t want to be distracted by aches and pains.

Begin by standing in Tadasana/Mountain pose.  Stand tall.  Root down through your feet and lengthen through the crown of your head.  Take a moment to consider your posture.  Your posture while sitting in Sukhasana should be similar to the posture you have while standing in Tadasana. We all have a unique S curve to our spine; try to maintain that natural shape in your spine while sitting.

Now sit on your mat in a cross leg position.  If your knees are above the height of your pelvis while sitting cross legged on the floor, raise the height of your bottom until your pelvis is the same height if not higher than your knees. Most people will require on a block, bolster, zafu or a blanket or two.

Sit so that your pelvis is neutral. If your pelvis is tipping too far forward, the curve in your low back will be exaggerated. If your pelvis is too far backward, the curve in your low back will flatten or round backward.  Once you have the pelvis in a neutral position, check to ensure your shoulders are aligned directly over your pelvis.  Exhale and lengthen your spine up through all four sides of your torso. You want to feel like your spine is lifting effortlessly upward.

Press your shoulder blades back as you softly hug the front bottom ribs in, and broaden through your collar bones.

Place your arms by the side of your torso and rest your hands on your knees either face up or face down, whichever intuitively feels better.

Relax the muscles around the base of your neck as you lift through the crown of your head. Lengthen through the back of your neck, keeping the bottom of your chin parallel with the floor or tilted towards your chest, whichever feels better in your neck.

Soften all the muscles in your face, particularly the muscles in your forehead and jaw. Softly close your eyes and gaze toward the ground (yes! gaze even though your eyes are closed).   Inhale and exhale with long, smooth, easy breaths.   Enjoy.

This chattra blog post was written by Jenna  Jenna is a yogini based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She leads weekly public yoga classes for adults and specializes in yoga for kids and teens. She has completed trainings with YogaWorks and Wee Yogis; she loves teaching students of all ages! Jenna is grateful to practice and teach yoga as a means of self-discovery, inspiration, and healing.

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