This page at a glance:
- Sitting cross-legged is one of the six main floor poses and their variations; the others are kneeling, squatting, pigeon pose, pike pose, and cobra pose.
- Cultures that value sitting cross-legged (e.g., called sukhasana in Sanskrit and agura in Japanese) often experience greater flexibility and less back pain than their Western counterparts.
- The physical benefits of sitting cross-legged include improved hip mobility, a strengthened core, and reduced lower back tension.
4 Reasons You Should Be Sitting Cross-Legged Every Day
Like all other primary floor poses, there are four significant reasons why you should sit cross-legged daily.
First, sitting cross-legged is innate to children. Those who spend time with kids can attest to their ability to switch from sitting on a chair, sprawling on the floor, sitting cross-legged, hopping around, and running – all within minutes. Although it might seem like this level of physical freedom is a thing of the past, it's not entirely lost to adults!
Second, sitting cross-legged is a norm in many cultures. This picture shows a Tibetan monk meditating in the Lotus position. The Sanskrit term for this mode of sitting is Padmasana, and it is central to the practice of meditation and Yoga. As you can see, they seem perfectly comfortable in this natural human pose!
Third, sitting cross-legged was common among our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Even today, sitting on the ground is prevalent in non-industrialized parts of the world, such as for the !Kung Bushmen of southern Africa (pictured below), where sitting on the ground is more usual than sitting in chairs.
Fourth, sitting cross-legged can alleviate back pain! Sitting cross-legged activates your core muscles and takes the strain off your spine. Once you get used to it, you might be amazed at how comfortable it feels!
Most Western adults spend their days sitting in chairs, which leads to the deactivation of muscles meant to support our body weight, adversely affecting cardiovascular and mental health and putting overdue stress on certain parts of the back, particularly our cervical spine. For example, this woman is bringing her whole head forward to read her screen, putting her at risk of a hunched cervical spine (known as kyphosis):
How to Sit Cross-Legged While Working
Like all main floor poses, if you are not accustomed to sitting cross-legged and dive into it without preparation, you could end up hurting yourself. So, let's discuss how you can acclimate yourself to sitting cross-legged, select the right aids, and set up your workspace correctly.
Physically Acclimating to Sitting Cross-Legged
The thought of sitting in an unfamiliar pose can be daunting and potentially risky if not approached correctly. So how can you ease into it?
Let's start with an excellent version of sukhasana or "easy pose":
Observe the following:
- The knees are roughly even with the hips. This is crucial to avoid curving the lower back.
- The sit bones are grounding into the floor. (These are the hard bony ends of your pelvis.)
- The spine is straight and tall. You'll find that this happens naturally in easy pose.
This position distributes weight squarely onto the bony structures designed to bear it. It also encourages hip mobility, relieves lower back pressure, and engages the core.
If this seems challenging, start by sitting on the edge of a cushion or block to elevate the hips. Over time, as your flexibility improves, you can lower the height or remove the support altogether. For example, the knees can be supported with blacks or blankets, and you can sit on the edge of a blanket or bolster to elevate your hips:
Setting Up Your Space for Sitting Cross-Legged
Simply sitting cross-legged on a hard surface will likely result in discomfort. It's vital to use mats, cushions, and blankets to make sitting cross-legged as comfortable as possible.
Here are some suggestions to make sitting cross-legged a more enjoyable and cozy experience:
- Sit on a comfortable surface, like a yoga mat, a cushion (e.g., a zabuton), or a thick blanket.
- Use a meditation cushion or bolster under your sit bones to elevate your hips and relieve pressure on your legs.
- Rest your knees on a folded blanket if they're lifted off the ground, to ensure proper alignment and comfort.
Setting Up Your Desk for Sitting Cross-Legged
If you've ever tried working on your laptop while sitting cross-legged on the floor, you've likely realized it's not practical. It's challenging to maintain an erect posture while working on a laptop placed on the floor.
Fortunately, we've designed a product to solve this issue – the Lunadesk. Our adjustable desk converts any surface into an ergonomic workspace:
However, you can also set up a low coffee table or tray for your work. And of course, you can always use whatever you have lying around, like stools or crates!
Just know that you will need to have two surfaces: one for your laptop and one for your keyboard and mouse. Without an external keyboard and mouse, your laptop forces you to hunch over to accommodate its shape.
Any Other Ideas?
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