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Easy Pose (Sukhasana) in Yoga – Steps, Benefits, and Uses

Deepen your asana routine with this kneeling posture.

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Last Update on 28th July, 2022

  • Learn how to do Easy Pose with impeccable form.

  • Tips from yoga instructors to maximize comfort.

  • Avoid common mistakes and injuries.

  • Also, read the step-by-step instructions of Siddhasana.

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For most of us, sitting in chairs for long periods is the norm – a dangerous one too. But how we sit every day can have many health outcomes for the knees [1] and back. In fact, research has linked the ability to sit and rise from the floor as a predictor of all-cause mortality [2].

While science occupies itself with examining the physical implications of posture, yoga theory also speaks about the subtle benefits of different sitting postures.

 

Easy Pose or Sukhasana, a commonly used sitting posture in Asia, has been used by yoga practitioners for ages. It is an asana we frequently recommend to beginners in our in-depth yoga breathing guides. So what exactly is Sukhasana, and why is it omnipresent in yoga?

Sukhasana: Meaning and Purpose

 

Sukhasana (सुखासन) or Easy Pose refers to any cross-legged sitting posture used in yoga. It stretches the spine and targets several body parts from the hips through the ankles [3]. It’s one of the most straightforward and commonly used poses for pranayama and meditation.

 

However, Easy Pose is not rule-bound or specific. Sukhasana is a combination of two Sanskrit words – Sukha meaning ‘comfortable’ and asana meaning ‘posture.’ Thereby, Sukhasana means ‘a comfortable posutre’ [4] - to sit for yoga with ease, any way you can.

 

However, the "easy" in Easy Pose refers to 'with ease,' which can fool you into thinking it is easy. It is easier than Padmasana or Vajrasana, but it can still be quite challenging if you live a sedentary lifestyle or have been sitting in chairs your whole life.

 

Fortunately, you can do it with the help of yoga blankets, towels, blocks, and bolsters, which we will get into later. Below, we outline the step-by-step instructions and benefits of Easy Pose. We also share tips from yoga instructors on fine-tuning Sukhasana for maximum comfort.

 

Easy Pose Basics

  • Difficulty Level: Beginner

  • Sanskrit Name: Sukhasana

  • Pronounced: Sue-kha-sun

  • Targets: Back, knee, ankle

  • Used for: Pranayama, Meditation

  • Props: Blanket, Towel, or Block

  • Alternatives: Siddhasana

Start slow, be mindful of your posture, and make the necessary adjustments until you get it right. Beginners should check every few minutes to see if they are doing Sukhasana in proper form. It's common for the body to slouch, arch, or slump as you tire or stop paying attention.

“Easy Pose is easy because it is a generic term for any comfortable posture," says Jenna, a yoga instructor, and physical therapist. “But you still need to follow the rules of seated postures, namely alertness from the crown to chin, an erect spine, and stable lower body,” she adds.

Cross-legged asanas like Easy Pose are about opening the hips, stretching the spine, and activating the torso. Yoga views the torso as a bridge between the lower and higher centers of our being. And, the spine is axiomatic to good posture, which Sukhasana can help with.

“Learning Sukhasana is an opportunity to learn the role of lengthening the spine in pranayama. A stretched vertebrae and firm back keep the abdominal muscles in place,” explains Jenna. “If you lose this grip, the torso will slump. So you must learn to keep the torso engaged from the base or coccyx to the top or crown of the head.”

Why Sukhasana: 5 Easy Pose Benefits

  1. Easy Pose is a seated, cross-legged yoga posture that stretches the hips, knees, and ankles.

  2. It is a calming pose for yoga practices, known to improve breathing and digestion [5].

  3. Easy Pose stretches the spine, strengthens the back, and opens up tight hips.

  4. The spiritual benefits of Easy Pose include uplifting mood and increasing energy.

  5. Sukhasana is a good option for beginners, pregnant women, or the elderly. 

 
 
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How to: Easy Pose in 5 Steps

  1. Roll out your yoga mat and sit on the floor in Staff Pose (Dandasana). Cross the legs one at a time, placing the feet under the knees. Adjust your posture until your weight is equally distributed on your buttocks and sit bones.

  2. Extend the crown of your head slightly and press the hips to the floor to lengthen the spine. Protrude the chest slightly and drop the shoulders away from your ears.

  3. Place the hands on the thighs or kneecaps, palms facing up (receptive) or down (grounded). You can also use your hands to practice yoga mudras (hand gestures) like dhyana mudra or chin mudra.

  4. (Optional) You can use yoga props (yoga towels, folded yoga blankets) to support the ankles or place a yoga block or bolster under the buttocks to elevate the hips higher than your knees to make Easy Pose more comfortable.

  5. Relax the face muscles and take deep breaths through the nose, lengthening the spine with the in-breath and grounding yourself with the out-breath.

 

Easy Pose Variations with Yoga Props

You can use extra padding or consult a yoga instructor to create variations tailored to your needs. Here is how you can use yoga props to do the Easy Pose:

Place a yoga block on the mat and sit on it, leaning slightly forward. Place a folded yoga blanket under the knees to prevent pressure on the hips. Ensure that you don’t lean forward and create strain on the spine.

Safety and Precautions

Sukhasana is contraindicated in arthritis, hip inflammation, leg injuries, and knee pain. Pregnant women and people with varicose veins should speak to their physician before doing Easy Pose.

Sukhasana is safe and unlikely to cause injuries. Some research indicates one should shift positions often to avoid strain and injury. Avoid numbness or pins-and-needles by stretching the legs after a few minutes, or alternate between Easy Pose and Staff Pose every few minutes.

Tips to Fine Tune Easy Pose

“The most common Easy Pose mistake among beginners is a tendency to slouch or arch the back outwards in Easy Pose, which can put undue stress on the spine,” says Jenna. Keep on check on this by keeping the lumbar spine straight and drawing the chin in.”

In Easy Pose, we press the hips into the floor to avoid strain on the spine. Generally, we ask beginners to start with a rolled yoga blanket or bolster pillow under the hips to elevate them. You can also place a yoga block under the buttocks if you have inflexible hips.

The ankles may get sore if the knees are raised too high. They can also hurt if your body weight is pressing them into the ground. Place a folded yoga towel under the ankles or use an extra thick yoga mat to prevent soreness. You can also lower your knees or open your legs wider to avoid it.

 

Sitting in Easy Pose can sometimes result in a pins-and-needles sensation. This is the case with many seated cross-legged postures as they can restrict blood circulation to the feet [6]. You may also experience numbness after a few minutes of Sukhasana if you bend the knees excessively.

In Light on Pranayama, BKS Iyengar says numbness in the feet is common when you start yoga pranayama in cross-legged asanas. He say you can counter this by lying in Corpse Pose with your heels near the buttocks or by stretching the legs with toes pointing towards the ceiling.

 
 

In Conclusion

Sitting cross-legged is allegedly better than squatting or sitting with legs extended. If done suitably, Sukhasana can strengthen the core (back and abdominal muscles) and improve posture. But you must focus on aligning the head with the spine, balancing the shoulders over the hips, and distributing your weight evenly on the sitting bones.

Related Posts:

We have covered other cross-legged yoga postures like Padmasana (Lotus Pose) that you can incorporate into your pranayama routine:

 

Sources:

  1. Dahaghin, S. et al, Squatting, sitting on the floor, or cycling: Are life-long daily activities risk factors for clinical knee osteoarthritis? Stage III results of a community-based study. Arthritis & RheumatismBrito LBB de, Ricardo DR, Araujo DSMS de, Ramos PS, Myers J, Araujo CGS de. Ability to sit and rise from the floor as a predictor of all-cause mortality. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. 2012-2014; 21(7):892- 898.

  2. Amit Kapoor et al, Range of Movements of Lower Limb Joints in Cross-Legged Sitting Posture, The Journal of Arthroplasty

  3. Translation Source: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

  4. Dix Megan, What causes tingling in my feet? Healthline

  5. Eating food in Sukhasana posture can have magical health benefits. The Times of India

  6. Payel Maity et all, An experimental study to evaluate musculoskeletal disorders and postural stress of female craftworkers adopting different sitting postures. International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics.

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