Monday, November 24, 2008

Yoga Poses to Help With Doing Zazen

Since I keep getting asked this question I've now added a permanent link to the drawing that Patrick of Yoga Garden in Yokohama drew up for me showing the various yoga poses he recommends for helping people get into full or half lotus posture. It's right there next to this article and it will be forever accessible via a link in the links section over to your left.

Although I do yoga myself, I didn't really personally use these poses to be able to get into full lotus. For reasons I cannot understand, I've always been able to get my legs into the full lotus posture, even back in the days when the rest of my body was so stiff I couldn't even touch my toes. The only problem was I couldn't hold the posture for more than a couple minutes. What I did was just hold the full lotus posture as long as I could and then switch to half lotus. After about six months of doing this twice a day every day I could hold the full lotus for a full 40 minutes.

But that's my story, not yours. These postures have helped yoga people get into the lotus posture for a few thousand years. So maybe you can benefit from them.


Anonymous said...

THanks! Could you post tips on how to make your back/spine stronger, so it doesn't hurt in zazen?

Blake said...

Anonymous, you need to focus on your core. Buy 8-minute Abs, Abs of Steel or Yoga for Abs (whichever has the host you are most attracted to).

Anonymous said...

@blake: so abdominals can help me? The pain is a little down the shoulders :/

Severino42 said...

While many people report great results from these yoga exercises, I have tried them with pretty minimal results.

However, I am surprised that I can now sit comfortably in lotus, after taking elementary ballet last spring and this autumn. I now do 2 consecutive 25 min sits in 1/2 lotus or one 25 min sit in full lotus with no pain, except when my feet fall asleep and I get up too quickly.

I can not figure out why it works, as the ballet exercises are not similar to the recommended yoga. The ballet meets once a week for 90 min. This does not seem like enough to make a difference, but it does for me.

Before the ballet I could get into 1/2 lotus, with immediate pain, and had not tried full lotus.

Anonymous said...

walking 1 hr per day is good for the back.

Jinzang said...

Could you post tips on how to make your back/spine stronger, so it doesn't hurt in zazen?

If your back hurts, your posture is wrong. In my experience the most common cause is the knees are higher than the butt. This causes you to lean forward to keep balance and after a while, your back starts hurting. The solutions is to use a higher, broader cushion to raise your butt. If necessary, use two cushions.

It can also happen that half lotus unbalances your posture and you lean to the side to compensate. Try another posture if this is the case.

But these are guesses. If you can, find someone experienced to check and correct your posture. You may find that you need repeated corrections as your bad posture has become habitual and you unconsciously revert to it.

babbles said...

I have been doing yoga for about 6 months and enjoy it. I got really bad hips - in fact looking at a hip replacement next summer - so full lotus is effectively impossible for me. However I still feel that yoga is a great exercise.

I also enjoy listening to Gwen and Patrick's Zen is Stupid podcast. I recommend checking it out.

Jenny said...

Some pain in the back can also be from having poor posture when not sitting, especially if it is mid to upper back pain. If you normally have poor posture, it will take time to retrain the muscles the proper way they are supposed to work. Try being mindful of your posture through out the day, not only when sitting.

Anonymous said...

"You've got the Republicans, and basically they want to live according to [the Bible]. But there's the problem of interpretation, and you've got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesn't. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you've got blue, you've got the Democrats, and they're, like, 'You can do whatever you want.' Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right." - Prince 2008

At Daichu-ji in Tochigi Prefecture in October 1940,
listening to his lecture "Fukan-zazen-gi," for the first time. Master Kodo Sawaki proclaimed loadly that
"The Right Wing is wrong, and the Left Wing is wrong!"
Listening to such a very clear expression,
I thought that this expression might be true.

Anonymous said...

jinz sed: "If your back hurts, your posture is wrong."

Might be wrong..

Back problems can be caused by all kinds of reasons. Age, Injury, disease, birth defects among other things.

Al Coleman said...

Find a clinic near you that has a Med-X Lumbar extension machine. Perform one set to muscular failure at 10 sec up 10 sec down cadence. The set should last between one to two minutes. If two minutes is reached increase the load by 5%. Do this once per week or once every two weeks.

Back pain is usually caused by weakening struts a.k.a.- lumbar muscles. These muscles and those of the cervical spine are more more prone to age related muscle loss than any other area of the body. Strenghtening them along with correct posture will fix any bad back pending genetics.

For research on the subject got

Hope this helps.


Anonymous said...

When the pain in my knees
becomes unbearable, I
stop and read books
recommended by
Publishers Weekly.

Anonymous said...

"But that's my story, not yours."

IMHO those six words are the most valuable
of the things Brad has to say.

Thanks, Dude.

Harry said...

These poses are what have worked best for me, I've tried several other things, but end up going back to these:

Merci beaucoup, Michel!



Harry said...


I'm not a rubberman yogi like in the pics; for the forward bends in particular I sit on a cusion to raise my sitting bones and use a strap to 'catch' my foot and relax into a slight bend.



Anonymous said...

You can practice yoga if your a muslim.
You can practice yoga if your in Malaysia.
But you can't practice yoga if you're a muslim in Malaysia. siapcf/11/22/ p/index.html

Mettai Cherry said...

The poses that Harry suggests (three comments back) are quite wonderful and much more doable for people with limited flexibility. My favorite for working toward lotus is #4 (through the hole). This one is also good for sciatica.

It's very important to remember that the twisting motion in lotus comes in your hips, not your knees. If you feel any twist in your knees, sit some other way or you'll end up a mess.


Anonymous said...

"Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness" by Erich Schiffmann has a great section on stretches to prepare for lotus.

Jordan said...

Funny, I thought it said "Yoda" poses. Where did I put those eye glasses?

Rick said...

I have a lot of connective tissue. I've tried stretching for many years and never accomplished anything. Now I am studying Taijiquan, and find I am loosening up quite nicely without doing any stretching exercises. I'm relaxing instead.

Anonymous said...

body and mind.... get your body in the proper posture to help get your mind in the proper posture. after all, they're totally connected. take martial arts for example, it's not so much about being able to kick somebody's ass, as its about self-Discipline and awareness of the quote unquote Here&Now(TM). Discipline, willpower, passion. when these things are in harmony, anything is possible. But it is very difficult (to me) to constantly maintain this harmony. something tells me that true harmony is effortless, not to sound all cliche or clever or whatever, bit the task is easier said than done (or so it would seem)

...meditate on images of surfers, and waves....

post-onymous said...

...autonomic nervous system.....yes..

Anonymous said...


SWANS said...

mind body light sound

post-onymous said...


oNymous(E)??? said...

What Can You Do About Medication Side Effects?

Understand what side effects to expect as normal for your medication and the differance between a serious unexpected side effect and something that will go away after a period of use and the body adapts.

Ask your physician about making a change in the dosage to minimize the side effects. Minimizing medication side effects can be done by using the lowest effective dose and avoiding interactions between one medicine and another. Always have medication changes prescribed by your doctor. You do not have the knowledge to do this on your own and may cause yourself serious harm.

Know that there are many medications with differant levels of side effects that can be switched by your doctor and only switched by your doctor as more serious problems can occur.

Ask your doctor if there are any methods to cope with the specific side effects of a new medication. For example; should it be taken with food, late at night?

Ask your pharmacist to check for drug interactions every time you get a prescription filled. Tell your pharmacist if you are taking any non-prescription or herbal treatments. Some herbals can interact with your prescription. Ask and be safe!

Be informed! The best ways to deal with medication side effects is to ask questions, learn the information, and to keep your doctor updated and informed. By keeping the lines of communication open, your doctor will be able to make your use of a new medication as side effect free as possible.

Anonymous said...

happy holidays, shitheads.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Brad! This is really great! Now I can get enlightened!

Jinzang said...

Don't fear Godzilla. Fear Toho's lawyers.

Mumon said...

This is actually very good.

What really impresses me though is that an economic crisis rivaling the Great Depression's going on, but I guess it's up to me to get the Buddhist angle on that...but geez, man, you're not much younger than me.

andro said...

This has not begun to rival the great depression yet. This is a five hour flight and we are only ten minutes into it. The bad news is the middle class is completely screwed. The good news is that things won't be much different for the very lowest and upper classes.

Anonymous said...

A leading Russian political analyst has said the economic turmoil in the United States has confirmed his long-held view that the country is heading for collapse, and will divide into separate parts.

Professor Igor Panarin said in an interview with the respected daily IZVESTIA published on Monday: "The dollar is not secured by anything. The country's foreign debt has grown like an avalanche, even though in the early 1980s there was no debt. By 1998, when I first made my prediction, it had exceeded $2 trillion. Now it is more than 11 trillion. This is a pyramid that can only collapse."

Mysterion said...

So I haven't posted, but I am still around.

If it hurts, don't do it (that way).

Rocket science.

Anonymous said...

so happy anniversary for those who celebrate such things
Wink wink nudge nudge know what I mean, say no more, say no more

And also 11th Annual Three Stooges Big Screen Event
on Sat 11/29/08 Glendale Alex Theatre
go to

The Lone Ranger said...

muebles madrid said...

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