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 Asanas - Postures and Physical Culture
 Foot numb in siddhasana
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compassion

86 Posts

Posted - Feb 04 2016 :  02:01:01 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Message
For a long time I have used only my left heel under the perineum to good effect; however when using the right, about halfway through the practice my foot goes numb. This makes for a slightly less comfortable 'rest' period after practice, while I go through the pins and needles of feeling returning!

Easy solution to to use only my left heel under, but it would be nice to interchange freely. Any advice on how to get there? Is this due to tight muscles/hips? Is there any particular asana that would loosen them up? I had been hoping that simply practising siddhasana for some time would be enough, but seems at least not yet.

Ecdyonurus

Switzerland
479 Posts

Posted - Feb 04 2016 :  02:59:32 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Left-right difference is quite normal, according to many sources... and also to my experience on my own body.

There are many asanas for more balance, but you need a skilled teacher who can adress this, or you can even make the imbalance worse if your asana practice is wrong.

Also, try to sit on something like a folded blanket or a bolster allowing a higher posture so that both legs can be comfortable. In my case, I have to sit pretty high (about 25 cm). In other words, don't strain to put the right leg like you can do with the left - find a comfortable sitting posture for the right leg and use the same posture for the left leg.

I have bad knees that don't allow me to sit in siddhasana for long time, but using that approach I found a sustainable crossed legs posture that is comfortable for both legs. I use this posture on days where knees are not too painful. On other days I just sit on a chair. Both is ok for me.
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compassion

86 Posts

Posted - Feb 04 2016 :  12:47:19 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks Ecdyonurus!

It's not a strain to sit in siddhasana so it's not immediately obvious what the problem is. I'll try to sit a bit higher though and see if that helps!
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Ecdyonurus

Switzerland
479 Posts

Posted - Feb 04 2016 :  1:37:50 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
It can be a very subtle strain on some nerves. Let me know if you find a solution. Wish you alll the best.
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kensbikes100

USA
177 Posts

Posted - Nov 19 2016 :  9:30:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
I'm using siddhasana nearly twice a day, about 35 minutes each time all told. Part of the adjustment for me is to scootch around to find the most comfortable pressure pattern on the feet. Problems can include ankle bone pressure, the foot being "pinned" between the thigh and calf muscles of the opposite leg, foot crushed under the body against the floor. Nerve pressure can be a part of any of those pressures.

The adjustments have to be small and subtle, it can take a little while. It really helps me to have the Iyengar training I've had for the past several years, but it's really just taking it slowly and carefully. At the same time, sometimes what's necessary is the back/neck/cranium alignment, ear/shoulder/hip joint, and other upper body factors.

I can totally appreciate the benefits of the asana/sbp/DM sequence, but I think it's important to have more formal training in asanas to be able to negotiate situations like this. But, take it slow no matter what.

Or, change to half lotus, virsasana, or simply cross-legged.
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kensbikes100

USA
177 Posts

Posted - Dec 12 2016 :  07:24:59 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by Ecdyonurus

It can be a very subtle strain on some nerves. Let me know if you find a solution. Wish you alll the best.



Ecdyonurus, can you elaborate? I'm going from being relatively comfortable in siddhasana (with back supported) to finding blockages during pranayama.
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Christi

United Kingdom
4103 Posts

Posted - Dec 12 2016 :  12:49:46 PM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by kensbikes100

I'm using siddhasana nearly twice a day, about 35 minutes each time all told. Part of the adjustment for me is to scootch around to find the most comfortable pressure pattern on the feet. Problems can include ankle bone pressure, the foot being "pinned" between the thigh and calf muscles of the opposite leg, foot crushed under the body against the floor. Nerve pressure can be a part of any of those pressures.

The adjustments have to be small and subtle, it can take a little while. It really helps me to have the Iyengar training I've had for the past several years, but it's really just taking it slowly and carefully. At the same time, sometimes what's necessary is the back/neck/cranium alignment, ear/shoulder/hip joint, and other upper body factors.

I can totally appreciate the benefits of the asana/sbp/DM sequence, but I think it's important to have more formal training in asanas to be able to negotiate situations like this. But, take it slow no matter what.

Or, change to half lotus, virsasana, or simply cross-legged.



Hi Kensbikes,

For siddhasana, I advise people to use a high cushion. Something like a zufu is ideal. If you are having problems, then the higher the better, or even using two at once is fine.

With a good sitting cushion, your sitting bones will be raised high off the floor. Sit to the front of the cushion, so that there is space between your perineum and the floor. Then when you bring one foot underneath you for siddhasana, the heel of that foot will only be lightly touching the perineum.

The ball of the foot that you are using for siddhasana, will only be gently touching the opposite thigh and may not be touching the calf of the opposite leg at all.

Doing this there is only light pressure on the floor with the foot you are using, no issue with trapping between the thigh and calf of the opposite leg and no issues with trapped nerves because no nerves are trapped.

It can take a bit of time to get used to it, but it doesn't require any special training.

It may also be useful to explore which point is ecstatically sensitive to the pressure from the heel. It may not be right in the centre of the perineum, but could be off slightly to one side by an inch or so.

If you are finding blockages during spinal breathing pranayama, that is quite normal and the blockages will clear over time simply by continuing with the practice.


Christi
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kensbikes100

USA
177 Posts

Posted - Nov 10 2018 :  11:51:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Christi, did you mean a zafu? If so, do you have a recommended type or brand? I see them in a circular shape, and in a more heart-like shape.

I tried sitting up on a 2" cork yoga block, but did not like it due to the sharp-radiused edge. It did relieve my legs and feet, however.
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Dogboy

USA
1973 Posts

Posted - Nov 11 2018 :  10:33:57 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
A folded blanket offers two advantages, you can adjust the height and you don't have to buy anything
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spiderjen29

USA
4 Posts

Posted - Jan 31 2019 :  7:07:21 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hey! I've heard a few suggestions when I researched this problem. So basically, it's to sit higher, like what others are suggesting. The other recommendation is to get accustomed to it. Not sure if the second suggestion is true since I haven't tried it myself, but it is what I've heard.
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kensbikes100

USA
177 Posts

Posted - Mar 03 2019 :  10:50:18 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
I donít think this means to just take it and bear your cross. I think it simply means to find an adaptation that enables effective pranayama without discomfort. Use of a zafu, blanket or other elevation fall into this bin, as do alternate ways of sitting such as siddhasana, swastikasana, bhadrasana, virasana, baddhakhonasana, and padmasana. Any asana one may choose could require some optimization or tuning to become effective for you.
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tr00don

Canada
4 Posts

Posted - May 10 2021 :  3:48:20 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
"Comfortable position" actually means you will need to get used to some minimal discomfort and, after a while (about 20 mins, with some practice), it will just idle somewhere at the periphery of your perception. To minimize discomfort, you can practice stretching your leg joints (hip, knee, ankle, foot) several times a day, optionally with the aid of props. Once the tendons/ligaments are more loose, the pressure on the ankle and foot will decrease and you can focus on your pranayama.

I found that instructions on placing the heel in the perineum and feet between the thigh and calf should be taken with... moderation.

If you practice siddhasana long enough (FYI the target in the scriptures is 3 hours) then you will realize that neither a man nor a woman can place their heel "in the perineum". For men, the pressure on the ischiocavernosus and bulbocavernosus muscles is intense and the risk of damage to the tissues and excretory/sexual functions is too high. I saw the "sage" on YouTube who does appear to place one heel "in the perineum" and the other heel right above the... um, pubis but he is extremely skinny and long-legged so he is the exception to the rule. The rest of us have to settle for placing the heels close to the perineum, to the left and right side and close to the pubis, with the feet against and slightly under the thighs. There is also the issue of the um, furniture then men have to deal with as it cannot be placed in the middle of the room in this pose.

If you try to place your foot between the thigh and calf you will notice two things: first, the pressure on the thigh/calf is too great to bear for more than a few minutes; second, the position is really uncomfortable, although it does provide increased stability. What you can do is try to squeeze about one third of the foot sideways into that space. By the way, have you noticed that none of the "experts" demonstrating meditation techniques sit in these asanas? They generally sit in suckhasana, which is the easiest sitting pose. Also they cover their bodies in large, loose clothes so one cannot really see details of their leg poses.

Edited by - tr00don on May 10 2021 6:09:10 PM
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Dogboy

USA
1973 Posts

Posted - May 10 2021 :  7:26:07 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hello tr00don

I agree, siddhasanas are not for everyone, but the idea of pressure on the root is valuable, and doesnít even need to be a heel. I am quite capable of sitting awhile in the pose, as long as my butt is elevated on a thick blanket or zafu, and my knees point downward. For my actual DM practice, I sit astride a bolster like a saddle, and use a small bean bag on my perineum. Because it is a bean bag, it is flexible and not so rough on the root. The idea is for just enough attention at the root to help activate samadhi.

There are many restorative adjustments that can be made with any asana pose. I think nothing of using a strap on floor poses, otherwise, for these hamstrings itís torture!
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Christi

United Kingdom
4103 Posts

Posted - May 10 2021 :  8:02:54 PM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by tr00don

"Comfortable position" actually means you will need to get used to some minimal discomfort and, after a while (about 20 mins, with some practice), it will just idle somewhere at the periphery of your perception. To minimize discomfort, you can practice stretching your leg joints (hip, knee, ankle, foot) several times a day, optionally with the aid of props. Once the tendons/ligaments are more loose, the pressure on the ankle and foot will decrease and you can focus on your pranayama.

I found that instructions on placing the heel in the perineum and feet between the thigh and calf should be taken with... moderation.

If you practice siddhasana long enough (FYI the target in the scriptures is 3 hours) then you will realize that neither a man nor a woman can place their heel "in the perineum". For men, the pressure on the ischiocavernosus and bulbocavernosus muscles is intense and the risk of damage to the tissues and excretory/sexual functions is too high. I saw the "sage" on YouTube who does appear to place one heel "in the perineum" and the other heel right above the... um, pubis but he is extremely skinny and long-legged so he is the exception to the rule. The rest of us have to settle for placing the heels close to the perineum, to the left and right side and close to the pubis, with the feet against and slightly under the thighs. There is also the issue of the um, furniture then men have to deal with as it cannot be placed in the middle of the room in this pose.

If you try to place your foot between the thigh and calf you will notice two things: first, the pressure on the thigh/calf is too great to bear for more than a few minutes; second, the position is really uncomfortable, although it does provide increased stability. What you can do is try to squeeze about one third of the foot sideways into that space. By the way, have you noticed that none of the "experts" demonstrating meditation techniques sit in these asanas? They generally sit in suckhasana, which is the easiest sitting pose. Also they cover their bodies in large, loose clothes so one cannot really see details of their leg poses.



Hi tr00don,

Welcome to the forums.

If you follow the advice I gave in this post above, then you will be able to practice siddhasana without any problems. With the coccyx raised off the ground with a cushion, or zafu, there is no issue with trapped nerves or with any muscles being compressed. The pressure from the heel is very light. It is possible to remain in the position for three hours at a time without any issues if you wanted to, assuming that you can sit in a cross legged position for three hours.

And if your coccyx and buttocks are raised off the ground with a cushion or two, there will also be no issue with your furniture, as there will be plenty of space.

Another way of easing into siddhasana if you are having difficulties is to start out on a bed, with a pillow under your coccyx. The mattress will allow your foot to sink in a bit and will make things easier. A thick zabuton which goes under your whole body, is a way of replicating this without a bed.

This is discussed in lesson 75.

Siddhasana is a pose which may in fact mostly be used by people in the middle stages of the path. It creates a strong upward flow of prana in the body. But once the upward flow of prana becomes strong on its own, or is achieved by other means such as maha mudra, or kechari, the pose may no longer be needed. So, this is one reason that you may see advanced practitioners using something like half-lotus or sukhasana instead.


Christi

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tr00don

Canada
4 Posts

Posted - May 11 2021 :  08:07:19 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you all for your feedback. My problem sitting in siddhasana with my butt raised on a cushion/zafu is that I can only do that for a limited time due to the pressure on my sciatic nerves that become pinched in the space between the sit bones (ischial tuberosity) and the thigh bones (upper/lesser trochanters of the femur).

At first, I did my asana on a kapok foldable meditation cushion, the kind that you can buy on amazon, with my knees slightly below my butt. The time limit for my sitting in siddhasana on this cushion was around 25 minutes due to the mounting numbness and cold in my calves and feet. I traced the issue to the "ridge", however soft, that formed between the front edge of the seat and the areas where my ischial tuberosities sat deep on the cushion. I thought all I had to do was find a somewhat harder cushion to sit on, to minimize the depth of the troughs formed in the sitting area.

The next thing I tried was a custom-made seat built from high-density polyurethane foam with an additional polyester foam layer on top, that supported my body weight on four contact points: two sit bones and two thigh bone bumps. I also built two props to hold my knees level with my butt, and placed pads under my ankles, which sat below my butt/knees. This was an improvement as my time limit sitting in siddhasana on this type of cushion increased to around 45 minutes. However, the main problem was not solved: there was still a pressure area near the front edge of the cushion and the numbness developed slower but still could not be avoided. I even tried with a wide bike seat, raised on a wooden stand, hoping the particular design of the saddle, including the horn that shifted some of the pressure to the perineum, would help -- it did but not much.

After some additional consideration, I came to realize that the optimal sitting pose is one where the pressure due to the body weight is as evenly distributed as possible over an as wide as possible combined surface of the butt, thighs, calves, and feet. I guess siddhasana and padmasana as described in the scriptures come closest to meeting this technical requirement. I settled for the kapok foldable cushion, flat not raised, and now I can sit in siddhasana relatively comfortably for about an hour while practicing pranayama.

There is one outstanding issue though: only one of my knees rests on the cushion as I am unable to either twist the other knee joint much or rotate and uplift its calf enough to squeeze the leg between the opposite calf/thigh, toes forward. Eventually, the pose must become completely stable (established) and breathing automatic so that the sadhaka can safely let the body function in "auto-pilot mode", so to speak, for hours in a row, without risking paralysis, gangrene, or asphyxiation.

Edited by - tr00don on May 11 2021 10:51:26 AM
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Christi

United Kingdom
4103 Posts

Posted - May 11 2021 :  11:24:10 AM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi tr00don,

It sounds as if you have found a solution that works for you. Another easy solution would be to practice on a bed, as mentioned above. The knees do not need to be supported in meditation, or in pranayama. But if you prefer to have them supported, you could put a cushion or two under them.

And in 30 years of meditating and practicing with thousands of people around the world, I have never heard or anyone suffering from paralysis, gangrene, or asphyxiation, so I would not worry about that.


Christi
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kensbikes100

USA
177 Posts

Posted - Dec 07 2021 :  2:12:30 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
My attempt to use a zafu about 20 cm results in me sliding forward off of the cushion top. A rectangular cork yoga block 3 mm (commonly used as a prop in Iyengar yoga practice) placers me at a more gentle height and not unstable, but the flat platform is not big enough to pull my bottom foot up and in, though the upper heel can sit right.
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