Sitting meditation and leg numbness

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Dec 17, 2010 4:38 PM GMT
    I've been going to a local Zen dojo this month and really prefer it for my meditation practice. However, during the sitting meditation I'm finding that I'm losing all circulation in my feet and calves if I sit in lotus position or even demi-lotus position for very long. I've tried a number of things to ease it, including placing cushions or blankets under my legs or wearing warmer clothing. Normally it wouldn't be a problem at home because I would just wait for the blood to come back, but in the dojo we stand up right after sitting meditation for walking meditation. I've already had one incident of feeling faint and light-headed on standing up and want to avoid this happening again.

    Ultimately it's distracting and I'm feeling like I'm not able to concentrate well during meditation. It's potentially disturbing for everyone else as well should I happen to collapse.

    Would anyone have some suggestions as to how to overcome this? Or perhaps share what you do to overcome circulation problems during meditation?

    Much appreciation in advance.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Dec 20, 2010 3:49 AM GMT
    Sounds like it's time for a chiropractor.
    That used to happen to me and I never knew what it was. Then I got two herniated disks earlier this year. After a few weeks of chiropractor visits, not only did the herniated disks heal up, but I also noticed the ability to sit in those positions for the first time in years.
  • COyogabum

    Posts: 42

    Dec 20, 2010 4:06 AM GMT
    You may want to try some yoga before going to sit. A good class before you go to meditation should help open your hips and low back for sitting practice.
  • jlly_rnchr

    Posts: 1759

    Dec 20, 2010 4:19 AM GMT
    I have little advice, but I would urge you not to rush to judgement on what it could be. It's easy to self-diagnose as a circulation or a disk issue, but I would see a chiropractor, any doctor really, just to be safe.

    Good luck!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 05, 2011 12:16 AM GMT
    I noticed the same thing happening the few times I tried to meditate on the cushion, I just chalked it up to not doing it right, so I just meditate in a chair. I always thought though in the back of mind I want to try the cushion again, but my mind wonders to the discomfort and i cannot focus on the breath.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Aug 17, 2011 5:22 PM GMT
    The reason this happens is because we are from the west and our bodies are not used to sitting in these positions for very long. There is nothing wrong with you. It will take time.

    I have been meditating for a few years now. When I started, I could barely go for 5 minutes without losing feeling in my legs and being distracted by the pain. Now it takes about 45 minutes for me to feel discomfort.

    For me, progress came by first doing the right asanas. Most people do yoga to get fit and stay in shape. But the true purpose of the asanas is to prepare you for meditation . . . and meditation leads to samadhi, which is the real original purpose of yoga. Of course, it doesn't have to be any specific asanas. As a dancer, sometimes I would just stretch. Do anything that opens up your hips and makes your legs feel more limber. Learn to use your intuition and do whatever makes you feel good. My personal favorite is to start the day with some sun salutations until my body feel warm and loose.

    This will make it much easier on your legs and back. Secondly, I purchased a zafu and zabuton set to sit on.

    ZABUTON (Just the cushion, although the back rest does look pretty sweet!)

    It helps to keep your back straight without straining. Without it, my hip flexors tend to over work while trying keep my upper body from slumping forward. And my knees can't touch the ground which makes for a less stable base. The first time I tried this, my meditation improved by 15 minutes.

    The only other thing to do is keep practicing. Like with all things, you will improve with time and effort. Don't give up!! You are doing great!
  • inundation

    Posts: 11

    Aug 29, 2011 1:42 AM GMT
    kangourou saidWould anyone have some suggestions as to how to overcome this? Or perhaps share what you do to overcome circulation problems during meditation?

    Much appreciation in advance.

    If you are using a zafu and zabuton (I'm going to run on that assumption), you should make sure that you are essentially forming a tripod with your butt and two knees. If you sit too far back on the zafu, this won't happen and you'll cut off circulation. You basically want to form a wedge with the zafu in a sense, so your body is tilted forward. If you are sitting in the half-lotus posture, make sure that the foot not on your thigh is sitting sort of in the groove made by your folded leg underneath, if that makes sense. You don't want your foot to be pressed down by either your calf or upper leg.

    You also don't want your legs to be too "tight" and pressed together. A good way to prevent this is to rock side to side and back and forth after you assume the position. This will naturally slide your legs in such a way that they should fall into a posture of stability.

    You also want to make sure that you are not slumping back any, putting tension on your hips and legs to keep you from falling backward. You should push your lower back forward a bit and allow your spine to have a natural curve. Essentially, your posture should feel very stable, you should not feel tension anywhere in the lower body to "keep you afloat." If you do, something is wrong.

    One last thing: Fluff your zafu. Take it on its end and gently kneed it all around the perimeter. If your zafu is squashed flat it won't do its job of elevating your upper body. If you are sitting too "flat" you will be straining to hold yourself up, and you won't have the rise given by the zafu to alleviate pressure on your folded legs.

    Check this out:
  • Bigolbear

    Posts: 528

    Apr 03, 2012 5:14 PM GMT
    Have you tried a seiza position?

  • BardBear

    Posts: 533

    Apr 29, 2012 1:06 PM GMT
    I like the Zafu myself, and, if I'm on the road and don't have it, I've used rolled up towels and pillows if need be. I also recommend, as already posted, a chiropractor on occasion and brief stretches.

    Its something you'll have to warm up to. Take short breaks, time it and then try again.

    Good luck.