find your seat

find your seat

Find Your Seat

3 Ways to Sit without Knee, Hip or Back Pain!

Find Your Seat

While the deep benefits of seated meditation are known to and have been experienced by many, there are people the world over who find the practice to be inaccessible for the simple reason that they can’t find and maintain a comfortable seat. This is true for me, even to this day, no matter how open my hips are, or how strong my core and back are. If I try and sit on the ground for an extended period of time one of my legs will fall asleep, or I will at the least just be uncomfortable. If you have the same experience you will find these particular postures to be very supportive!

THE CHALLENGES

Why is it challenging to sit? There is a host of reasons why we might find it difficult to sit on the ground – perhaps primarily because we just don’t do it. Sitting in a chair does not allow our hips to go through their full range of motion each day, and as a result our back and hip flexors don’t develop the strength needed to keep us upright. Yoga can serve as an amazing practice to redevelop the capacity to sit more efficiently, although it won’t happen over night – which is why its necessary to check out the 3 postures in the video and photos below, so you can sit comfortably on the ground while you are working on the long term hip opening journey.

Trying to re-pattern our body takes repetitive practice. As with any other skill, you can only learn from doing it. That is why I created Hips: Rock and Unlock Em  – I wanted to support you in feeling good in your body (low back in particular)  on a daily basis. 

Is meditation Calming?

When Most people begin a meditation practice they expect it to have the results that everyone preaches; calm mind, relaxing, stress reducing. While some people do experience these results right away, others may experience the opposite. In weight lifting you must build a foundation of strength before you can move on to heavy compound movements, and establishing this foundation can at times be challenging and discouraging. Meditation is very much the same, the practice of it might feel like you are lifting heavy weights for your mind and as a result you might initially only experience the challenge of it. With repetition your mind will get stronger, you will be able to focus longer and the results will come faster!

Is meditation Calming?

When Most people begin a meditation practice they expect it to have the results that everyone preaches; calm mind, relaxing, stress reducing. While some people do experience these results right away, others may experience the opposite. In weight lifting you must build a foundation of strength before you can move on to heavy compound movements, and establishing this foundation can at times be challenging and discouraging. Meditation is very much the same, the practice of it might feel like you are lifting heavy weights for your mind and as a result you might initially only experience the challenge of it. With repetition your mind will get stronger, you will be able to focus longer and the results will come faster!

Assess your hips

Each of us has our own movement patterns which cause some muscles to be stronger, some weaker, some are tight, some are not, etc. We also have different bone structures that will make some positions easier than others. Finding a comfortable seat is one of the most important aspects of a seated meditation posture. If you are uncomfortable it is very hard to move the mind beyond the discomfort of the body. This is why I have provided three options for seated meditation postures. Go through each and ask yourself which one is most sustainable. Keep in mind there is no perfect seated posture for meditation, there is only the best one for you and that is the one you feel most comfortable in, and that also allows you to stay awake and present.

Assess your hips

Each of us has our own movement patterns which cause some muscles to be stronger, some weaker, some are tight, some are not, etc. We also have different bone structures that will make some positions easier than others. Finding a comfortable seat is one of the most important aspects of a seated meditation posture. If you are uncomfortable it is very hard to move the mind beyond the discomfort of the body. This is why I have provided three options for seated meditation postures. Go through each and ask yourself which one is most sustainable. Keep in mind there is no perfect seated posture for meditation, there is only the best one for you and that is the one you feel most comfortable in, and that also allows you to stay awake and present.

Option 1 - Bhadrasana (Hero's Pose)

My personal favorite seated posture for those who have tighter outer hips and inner thighs as it requires little flexibility in these areas. It presents a challenges for those with tight quads, and shin muscles. Using blankets and blocks can help alleviate these challenges. I would suggest warming up and stretching the thighs and ankles prior to working on this posture. In the above video I go over a twisted thigh stretch and a seated posture on heels. If these postures prove to be too challenging after a warm up, then this posture is likely to cause discomfort during a seated meditation.

Option 2: Cross Legged

The so called “easy seat” – an ironic title, as it can be incredibly misleading. For those with open inner thighs, hip flexors and outer hips this can be an easy posture indeed, but if that is not the case for you then you’ll definitely want to use props. Using the right amount of blankets and block support can make this posture easier and more accessible.

Option 3: On Chair with Blocks

In the video I show a seated option call sidasana, however I wanted to offer one other one here – Sitting in a chair can seem like cheating, as it can be incredibly easy to get too relaxed in. Here you will notice how I prepare the chair with blocks and a blanket and I sit on the edge of the seat so that I still used my back and hip flexors to keep me upright. Some level of muscle engagement is important to stay awake and present when meditating.

How to Start Meditation

The best way to practice meditation, like anything else, is to have guidance. When I was younger I struggled for years to meditate without the support of a teacher, and mostly I became frustrated and lost in my thoughts. This is why I created the Elements of Mastery online program – to provide a way for you to begin practicing yoga and meditation together. The second workshop “Earth and Water” is the perfect Daily practice for both hip openers and meditation! Can’t afford EOM? Dont have access to a teacher? meditation is still possible but you have to start easy. I suggest a 1 minute meditation practice daily for 2 weeks. Set a timer for yourself and narrow your attention to your breath. Try to feel as it enters your body and feel as it leaves your body. After 2 weeks,  do this same thing for 5 minutes daily , with a timer set. Work your way up to 17 minutes a day, but don’t try and do this all at once as you you will likely become discouraged. Focus is like a muscle that needs strengthening and it takes time to develop.

How to Start Meditation

The best way to practice meditation, like anything else, is to have guidance. When I was younger I struggled for years to meditate without the support of a teacher, and mostly I became frustrated and lost in my thoughts. This is why I created the Elements of Mastery online program – to provide a way for you to begin practicing yoga and meditation together. The second workshop “Earth and Water” is the perfect Daily practice for both hip openers and meditation! Can’t afford EOM? Dont have access to a teacher? meditation is still possible but you have to start easy. I suggest a 1 minute meditation practice daily for 2 weeks. Set a timer for yourself and narrow your attention to your breath. Try to feel as it enters your body and feel as it leaves your body. After 2 weeks,  do this same thing for 5 minutes daily , with a timer set. Work your way up to 17 minutes a day, but don’t try and do this all at once as you you will likely become discouraged. Focus is like a muscle that needs strengthening and it takes time to develop.

From Body to Mind

One thing I noticed early on in my meditation practice was the discomfort of my body. I couldn’t focus my mind on anything when I was seated because I was distracted by my back, my knee, my neck, and so on. This realization led me to the physical practice of yoga. Through the yoga practice I gained a heightened sense of awareness of my body. At first this was almost a curse, because I could feel everything – including my discomfort! Over time and practice I gained a bit of mastery in my body, in that I could feel the discomfort and choose postures to better accommodate myself and release it. The seated meditation practice became so much more enjoyable when I could extend my attention beyond the physical, knowing that I wasn’t causing damage by forcing myself to sit through knee, or back pain. While I do believe that some pain in the body can be a result of mental projection, I also know first hand that placing love and attention on the body can support the health of the mind.  There really isn’t a divide between brain and body – the mind is a collective of all our physical and emotional experiences. For sound mental health to be our primary state of being we must get to know ourselves on all levels and develop our awareness. 

Hips: Rock & Unlock 'Em

Get 2 full hours with Matt Giordano focusing on the techniques that increase the range of motion in your hips and provide long lasting freedom. You will have immediate, unlimited access, and can enjoy the benefits today!

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Get the immersion that is offered around the world now in the comforts of your own home. Practice on your own time, when you want, and where you want. Re-watch, study, read, take notes, get into your body, free your mind, and advance your practice with this in depth online immersion

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Pigeon Without Knee Pain

Pigeon Without Knee Pain

Pigeon Pose

without Knee Pain

Why STretching your hips might cause knee pain

Pigeon Pose is one of the most widely beloved postures in the yoga practice across a multitude of styles. This is for good reason. However, the issue I see most often with this posture is that it comes with little guidance as to how to activate your muscles and align your bones and joints, and as a result many people experience pain in their knees, or quite simply never find an increase in hip mobility.  In this video I share my top three steps to a deep stretch in the hips without compromising the knee joint.

In my most recent online workshop, “Hips: Rock and Unlock Em” I go over some key actions in detail, and guide students into one of my favorite variations of pigeon posture – so if you like what you get in this video definitely check out that full 2 hour workshop that goes over all you need to know about hip opening.

The key point that I go over in the video below and in the online workshop is that some of the hip muscles cross both the hip joint AND the knee joint, and so when we stretch the hips we are also stretching the knee. In addition, many hip stretches require putting pressure on the knee joint in order to rotate the thigh bone in the hip joint. One of the techniques I personally use is something called a facilitated stretch in order to target the belly (middle) of the muscles rather than the attachment points near each joint. Facilitated Stretch simply means an activation of the same muscles that are stretching. In the case of pigeon I aim for the activation of the buttock muscles.

The Gluteus Maximus in particular is my focus because it feeds into the IT band, and the IT band connects to the knee joint. Any stretch of the buttocks could result in a straining of the knee. I find it incredibly helpful to activate the buttocks in order to ground and stabilize the knee joint. In addition, I also offer an activation from the other surrounding joint – the ankle. By activating certain muscles of the ankle I have found more access to spaciousness in the knee.

To be fair, nothing is fool proof. I have, however, tested these techniques among various body types over the past ten years and I have found it to be incredibly effective for most students. The result is deeper stretch in the hips and less or no strain or pain at all in the knee. That being said, this is your body and you have the greatest understanding of it when you tune in to how you feel and what you feel. The online Hips workshop is designed to help you with exactly that – Learn to feel your body on a more specific and nuanced level. Enjoy this free tutorial and as always let me know if you have questions about your body or your practice. If the video is helpful please share it!

Facilitated Stretching

Increases your range of motion while maintaining muscle integrity. Facilitated stretching is the activation or engagement of the muscles that are stretching. Activating the muscle while stretching causes the Golgi tendon organ to send a signal to the spinal column, and the spinal column speaks back, telling the muscles to relax.

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3 Steps for Pigeon Pose

Step 1 - Evert the ankle

Everting at the ankle joint aligns the shin at the knee joint, and activates the outer shin muscles (fibularis muscles). In addition, when in pigeon pose, it supports the external rotation at the femur bone (front leg) in the hip socket. When everting you can try rolling the calf muscle forward toward the front of your mat to initiate external rotation at the knee, this can help to open the inner portion of the knee.

Step 2: Press outer Front knee Down

From your buttock muscles press the outer front knee down, and as a result you should feel your hips lift up a little bit. If you don’t feel this you may have to think about pulling your front knee toward the back knee. Once you get your buttocks to activate, your femur (thigh bone) will begin to externally rotate. This action supports more congruency (more space) at the knee, and begins a facilitated stretch.

Step 3: Rotate The back Hip inward

Rotating the back thigh bone will help to rotate the pelvis toward the earth. Because the muscles of the front hip are connected to the pelvis, if you rotate the pelvis it lengthens the muscles causing a deeper stretch. I only recommend this if you are feeling at ease in the front knee, and if so go slow because it is very easy to loose what you have already created in step 1 and 2.

Sit, Stand, Walk.

Keeping the buttock muscles healthy and supple can really help in finding comfort when sitting, standing, or walking. Since most of our day is spent doing one of these three things, I highly recommend taking the time to do postures like pigeon pose, and do them well.

Listen To Your Body

Alignment cues and muscle engagements can be highly beneficial, so take the time to feel how they land in your body. There is no magic action or alignment for everyone, so I really encourage you to explore these actions while truly listening to your body. This particular set of cues might be what creates an aha moment to you, or it could be the complete opposite, so try them and ask yourself what you feel and what your experience is. Try to dissociate feeling bad with effort, and good with doing nothing, they sometimes correlate and sometimes not. If these actions wound up being right for you then I recommend practicing them whenever you are doing pigeon, and always maintain awareness of what your body is feeling. Through deep focus, and exploration you will be able to collect the right actions for you.  If you found this useful, please share this post and for a full practice using this approach, check out Hips: Rock and Unlock ‘Em

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The July Immersion takes you on a 12 Class Journey through the Chakras and the elements, to develop your strength, flexibility and awareness of each energy center and the corresponding muscles. There is a heavy focus on the Hips in the Earth, & Water classes, and the Back in the Water and Air classes, balanced by Core strengthening in the Fire section.

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SAMADHI Dissolving into the state of oneness.SamadhiSamadhiSamadhi is the experience we have when the mind realizes the totality of itself - that it is one part of an infinitely grander whole. Using an analogy from one of my teachers, Alan Finger – Consiousness is...

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