STUDENT QUESTION SERIES:
Why Do My Legs Falling Asleep In Meditation? What Is Going On?
...and how do I fix it?
Click here to see my upcoming intro and video series about sitting comfortably in 'asana'.
Consider the graphic on the left here.
Now, when you first start meditating, too much bending of the knee will block many of the nerves and blood flow from the upper body into the lower leg.
Contributing to this is the constant tension much of that area is ALREADY under due to our continuous sitting in chairs, and the shortness of the hamstrings and, in particular, the sartorius and gracilius. Tension in these areas will create much of what you’re talking about.
My suggestion is to, of course, address these with sitting forward bend and half-spinal twists, as well as increased practice sitting cross-legged.
In particular, I found initially that it was the external rotation of the femur that presented me with the most difficulty, which is related to the lower back; and there, in the low back, we find many of the issues, as these issues cascade up and down the body in a pattern.
Much of what you’re asking about is very common, but the solutions largely depend upon your particular sitting methods.
I teach sitting in four sections:
- Setting Up The Base- knees, hips, feet.
- Position the Head- forward, back, etc.
- Set the Shoulders- best if back and down- whether or not you can do this easily is related to the issues with the feet falling asleep- it’s at the far end of the pattern from the low back, going up the body.
- Low Back- Often this is the last place you can comfortably relax, and all this is a matter of working on the front/back balance, and the achievement of the proper curve in the back, which should ALWAYS be similar to that normal curve in the back when one is standing. Too much sitting in chairs tends to push our backs out in PRECISELY the spot in the low back that would produce a problem for the rest of the body. Maintaining the gentle natural curve in the back should be a primary attitude steadfastly maintained in all asanas, not just when sitting- even in the forward bend when it is often hardest. I’ve seen Taiwanese students maintain this, even when fully folded forward, so I know it’s possible!
All this is also related to the overall mental tension in the body.
Usually, in 15–30 min, I can have someone sitting comfortably cross-legged, even when being a self-described “inflexible person.”
A general Sivananda-style class will help you to sit easily afterward.