Yoga to Help You Sit, Part 2: Easing the Transition to Sitting Practice

Martha demonstrates Sun Breath.

Martha demonstrates Sun Breath.

By Martha Whitney and Trina Magi

In our last column, we discussed what to sit upon and ways to make the sitting posture more comfortable. In Part 2, Burlington Shambhala Center member and yoga instructor Martha Whitney suggests two tools you can use to help ease the transition to sitting at the beginning of your practice session: Sun Breath and body scan. Both of these techniques bring awareness to the body, help stabilize the mind, and bring us into the present. In Part 3, we’ll offer tips for dealing with discomfort in the back.

Sun Breath

You can do Sun Breath in either a standing or sitting position. It will help energize the body and mind and bring focus to your breath.

1) Begin with arms at your sides.

2) Exhale gently.

3) As you inhale, raise both of your arms out to the sides and up overhead.

4) As you exhale, bring arms down and back to your sides.

5) Do this five-10 times, synchronizing your arm movements with your breath, arms up at the end of your inhalation and arms down at the end of your exhalation.

6) Mindfully transition into meditation.

Body Scan

1) While sitting, standing, or lying down, bring awareness to the soles of your feet, and invite your mind to notice whatever sensation is there, without judgment. Allow yourself to feel the sensations, just as they are, letting go of commentary. Simply feel.

2) After about 10 seconds, move up to the next area of your body and bring awareness to any sensations there.

3) Continue in this way, spending about 10 seconds on each part of the body, for a total of about two minutes.

4) If you experience pain, notice it as a sensation and then move on. The goal is not to describe what’s happening in your body, but to let your mind attend to the sensations without judgment.

5) Finally, expand your attention to your whole body and the sensation of the ground under you. From here, mindfully transition into meditation.