Supported Crossed-Legs Pose: Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Supported Crossed-Legs Pose (Supported Cross Legged Forward Fold Pose) - Sharp Muscle
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Updated: February 16, 2023

Supported Crossed-Legs Pose, also known as Sukhasana Paschimottanasana, is a relaxing seated pose, similar to the Supported Seated-Angle Pose, except that the legs are comfortably crossed at the ankles in a relaxed tailor position.

Information

Known as:Sukhasana Paschimottanasana, Supported Crossed-Legs Pose, Supported Cross Legged Forward Fold Pose
Sanskrit name:सुखासन पश्चिमोत्तानासन
IAST:sukhāsana paścimottānāsana
Pronunciation:Sukh-ah-sah-nah Pash-chee-moh-tan-ah-sah-nah
Level:Beginner level
Type:Restorative Yoga Pose
Focus:Open up the chest, back, hips, hamstrings
Total time:5 to 10 minutes
Drishti:Third eye (the space between the eyebrows);
Close eyes
Chakra:Root Chakra (Muladhara Chakra), Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana Chakra), Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura Chakra)
Indications:Chest, circulation, digestion, blood pressure and heart rate, menstrual discomfort, lung function, posture and spinal alignment, neck and shoulders, stress and anxiety, lower back, hips, hamstrings
Counterposes:Child’s Pose (Balasana), Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani), Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana), Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Preparatory poses:Easy Pose (Sukhasana), Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana), Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana), Supported Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana), Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Follow-up poses:Supine Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana), Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani), Corpse Pose (Savasana), Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana), Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)
Contraindications:Diagnosed with sacroiliac dysfunction, disc disease, spondylolisthesis, or spondylolysis

Meaning

The Sanskrit name for Supported Crossed-Legs Pose is Sukhasana Paschimottanasana. “Sukha” means “easy” or “comfortable,” “asana” means “pose,” “paschima” means “west” or “back,” and “uttana” means “intense stretch.”

Supported Crossed-Legs Pose is a restorative yoga pose that combines the seated cross-legged position (Sukhasana) with a forward bend (Paschimottanasana). The pose is called “supported” because the practitioner uses props, such as chair, blankets or bolsters, to support the body and make the pose more comfortable.

This pose helps to promote relaxation and calm the mind, while also stretching the back, hips, and hamstrings. It can be practiced by people of all ages and fitness levels, but those with certain injuries or conditions should take precautions or avoid the pose altogether.

Benefits of Supported Crossed-Legs Pose

Supported Crossed-Legs Pose is similar to Supported Seated Angle Pose, which provides additional benefits to the lower abdomen. However, the physical and mental benefits of practicing Supported Crossed-Legs Pose are:

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Physical Benefits:

  • Stretches the lower back, hips, and hamstrings
  • Relieves tension in the neck and shoulders
  • Improves posture and spinal alignment
  • Can alleviate lower back pain
  • Since most of us keep tension in the abdomen, this yoga pose helps to release it below the level of the navel
  • Can improve digestion
  • Cools and relaxes your digestive and reproductive organs, kidneys, and liver
  • Helps to open up the chest and improve circulation
  • Can alleviate symptoms of menstrual discomfort
  • Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
  • Promotes deep breathing and improves lung function

Mental Benefits:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Calms the mind and improves focus
  • Promotes relaxation and a sense of well-being
  • Improves emotional balance and stability
  • Can help to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Enhances mental clarity and creativity
  • Helps to cultivate a deeper sense of self-awareness and mindfulness.

Supported Crossed-Legs Pose Practice Guide

In yoga, it’s taught that keeping the pose as symmetrical as possible benefits the nervous system. This sitting posture is traditionally used to stretch your legs.

It recommends that even very flexible individuals practice this supported variation of the Easy Pose to increase relaxation. You don’t need to work out aggressively to reap the physical benefits of the pose.

In Supported Crossed-Legs Pose, practice first with the right ankle on top of the left ankle and then reverse the cross for the same amount of time. In doing so, the hemispheres of the brain receive an equal amount of input from the nerves that interpret our spatial position. The brain translates this response as quietness.

Everyone’s body is unique in structure and flexibility, so there is no one-size-fits-all guideline for sitting with legs crossed. However, there are some common leg variations that you can use as a base to get comfortable.

The most manageable way to sit cross-legged for the most people is in really Easy Pose, with the feet resting just below the knees or calves (the way kids usually learn to sit “Indian style” on the floor). If this creates tension in your hips, it’s best to allow the feet to rest a little further away from the body rather than closer to the waist.

Another option is to cross the feet at the ankles or calves so that both shins are on the floor, facing each other. Although similar to the Easy Pose, this leg variation is different enough that it is known as Siddhasana.

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Step-by-step Instructions

Step-1

Sit on the floor with a chair in front of you. Be careful that the chair does not slip. If it does, put it on a nonskid mat. Cross the feet at the ankles. If you can maintain the natural inward curve of the lumbar spine located at waist level, you can move on. If lower back spasms occur, sit on the corner of one or more single-fold blankets. This will raise the pelvis and tilt it forward to create an inward lumbar curve.

Step-2

If you know that you can lean forward easily, you can practice this pose with the seat of the chair in front of you. If you don’t lean forward easily, place 1 or more single-fold blankets to raise the height of the seat, or turn the chair so that its back is toward you. These changes will allow you to come forward as you maintain the natural curvature of the spine.

Step-3

Come forward, fold the arms and rest them on the chair. Adjust the chair so that you can actually lean on it. If you lean forward easily, you may prefer to hold the chair further away from you. Whatever the distance, make sure the lower back is lengthened.

Step-4

Now rest the forehead on the sides, or turn the head to one side. When you rest the forehead on the bent arms, the neck should not bend. If it does, it means that the chin is moving up and out. To fix this, pull the chin back and in a bit. You can also add more prop height below the forehead. Close the eyes.

Step-5

Breathe in and out and enjoy the peace. Allow the weight of the head to relax completely. Breathe into the back, as you slowly round it. Feel like all the problems are rolling in from the top of the head and down the back. Be present in the here and now.

Step-6

Practice the Supported Crossed-Legs Pose (Supported Cross Legged Forward Fold Pose) for 3 to 5 minutes. Remember to come up, reverse the cross of the ankles, and repeat the pose for the same amount of time with the opposite ankle on top. To finish, slowly come up and lean back on hands to relax your lower back. If you feel any pain in the back, then lie down on the floor comfortably for a few minutes on the seat of the chair.

Common mistakes

Avoiding following common mistakes while practicing of Supported Crossed-Legs Pose can be more effective and comfortable. Here are some common mistakes that people may make while practicing Supported Crossed-Legs Pose:

  • Straining the knees and hips: Sitting cross-legged can put pressure on the knees and hips. If the legs are not supported properly, the weight of the body can cause pain and discomfort in these areas. It is important to use props like blankets, bolsters, or cushions to support the legs and avoid straining the knees and hips.
  • Rounding the spine: If the spine is rounded during the forward fold, it can strain the lower back and neck. It is important to keep the spine long and straight during the forward fold, and to use props like blankets or bolsters to support the forehead or chest.
  • Tension in the neck and shoulders: If the shoulders are lifted or tense, it can cause discomfort and tension in the neck and upper back. It is important to release any tension in the shoulders and let them relax down the back.
  • Not using props: This pose is meant to be a restorative pose, and it is important to use props to support the body and make the pose more comfortable. Not using props can make the pose uncomfortable and less effective.
  • Rushing the pose: This pose is meant to be a relaxing and restorative pose. Rushing through the pose can make it less effective and may cause strain or injury. It is important to take the time to set up the props properly and move slowly into the pose.
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Precautions and contraindications

Precautions and contraindications are important to consider while practicing Supported Crossed-Legs Pose. They are necessary to avoid injury and ensure safe practice. Here’s why they are important:

  • Knee or hip injuries or pain: If you have any knee or hip injuries or pain, practicing this pose can aggravate the condition. The cross-legged position can put pressure on the knee and hip joints, causing pain and discomfort. It is essential to avoid this pose or use props like bolsters, blankets or cushions to support your knees and hips.
  • Ankle injuries or pain: If you have any ankle injuries or pain, practicing this pose can cause further damage or injury to the affected area. It is essential to avoid this pose until the injury or pain is healed.
  • Sacroiliac joint pain: If you have any sacroiliac joint pain, practicing this pose can further aggravate the condition. The pose can put pressure on the sacroiliac joint, causing pain and discomfort. It is important to avoid this pose or modify it with the use of props.
  • Pregnant women: During the later stages of pregnancy, practicing this pose can cause discomfort or harm to the baby. It is recommended to avoid this pose during pregnancy.
  • People with high or low blood pressure: Practicing this pose can affect blood pressure. Those with high or low blood pressure should consult their doctor before practicing this pose.
  • Those who have difficulty sitting on the floor or who have knee problems: Using props like bolsters, blankets or cushions to support the knees and hips is recommended.
  • Never feel arching the back: You should never feel aching or aching in your back. If you do, come out of the pose and raise the height of the prop. If this adjustment fails to relieve the discomfort, avoid this yoga pose for now.

By taking these precautions and contraindications into consideration, the practice of Supported Crossed-Legs Pose can be safe and effective. It is always recommended to consult a qualified yoga instructor or medical professional before practicing this pose, especially if you have any medical conditions or injuries.

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