Friday, February 27, 2009

Preparing Your Body for Sitting

If you can sit in meditation for 10 or 15 minutes each day without discomfort, congratulations! You needn’t spend any additional time learning how to stretch and strengthen your body — unless, that is, you’re so inclined. But if you’re like most people, sooner or later your body will start clamoring for your attention. For example, you may find that regular sitting causes your back to stiffen occasionally. Or you may try to work your way into one of the more challenging cross-legged poses — only to discover that your legs just aren’t as flexible as you imagined.
A few well-placed hatha yoga poses can do wonders for your body — and make sitting a whole lot more comfortable, too! Whichever sitting position you choose, you’ll enjoy it more if your lower back is flexible and strong enough to support you without complaining. And if you prefer to cross your legs, you’ll find that stretching your hips allows you to sit with more stability and far less strain on your knees. With these needs in mind, the following sections highlight six yoga poses (also known as asanas) to help prepare you for sitting. The first three help to stretch and strengthen your lower back; the second three work on opening your hips and making them more flexible.
When you’ve chosen the poses that seem best for you, be sure to practice them gently and carefully, treating your body with the kindness you would reserve for a close friend. Enjoy the stretch, but back off gently if you feel any pain. (If you don’t have carpeting, use a yoga mat or a rug between your tender parts and the floor.)

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