Sukhasana is a posture found in almost any yoga practice at some point or another. It is sometimes known as Decent Pose, Easy Seat/Pose or Pleasant Pose.
Regardless of what you call it, this posture is a wonderful alternative to half or Full Lotus pose, and is a great place to rest for breathing exercises, intention setting and meditation.
The benefits of this posture are plentiful depending on what you pair it with, but Sukhasana also has many, many benefits all of its own. Here are just a few:
1. Find stillness and tranquility.
Eliminate anxiety by using this pose as a calmant during every practice, or simply when life gets challenging. Add in a breathing technique or repeat a mantra that fits your situation and you will have a beautiful meditation practice going on.
2. Stretch the external aspect of the knees.
This crisscross seat encourages open knees, which can be an area of tightness for many people, particularly if you drive a fair amount or sit at a desk for long periods each day.
3. Open the ankles.
This posture opens the ankles slowly but surely. You know you have tight ankles if Child's Pose is painful for your ankles or you feel a strain in your ankle joint when you sit cross legged.
Try sitting on a cushion or block to take some of the stress out of the ankles as they open. With time, you will find your ankles begin to open and that will allow you to sit more deeply.
4. Promote grounded-ness.
Inhaling to reach your chest up to the sky and exhaling to ground through the sitting bones in this shape will help you feel more grounded and less stressed out.
5. Unlock the hips.
To open the hips, sit in this posture for 5-10 minutes daily, switching the feet over half way to even out the stretch capacity. If your hips are very tight, place blocks under each knee and gradually lessen the height of the blocks to allow gravity to drop your hips open for you.
6. Lengthen the back muscles and spine.
Sitting up tall and spreading your collar bones apart to lift your heart will encourage better posture in general. Anchor through your seat to press the spine open and broaden the low back muscles.
If you have a history with a severe knee or back injury, sit over a folded blanket or use a bolster so that your knees are lower than your hips and the strain will be removed. You could also try using a wall to lean back on, or see if it feels better to lean slightly forward.
In most eastern cultures, sitting on the floor in this manner is expected and commonplace, thus the hips, ankles and back are used to it. In our culture, this seated position can be challenging. This is also means that the many benefits of Sukhasana are exponential for us tight-hipped individuals.