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Legs fall asleep!
Answer
2/28/12 9:30 PM
Hey all,

I have a practice-related question here that I've sort of found ways around but never satisfactorily solved - every time I try to meditate in a sitting position on a meditation cushion, either cross-legged or sitting on the cushion with my knees out to the sides, one or both of my legs falls painfully and totally asleep for the entire time I'm meditating. I've done and do walking meditation, and sometimes just laying down on my bed. Walking meditation is pretty cool beans, but I really do want to be able to do plain sitting meditation without being constantly distracted by my legs. I've tried stretches and a few yoga asanas now and then to remedy it, but alas either I don't do them enough or long enough, or else maybe they just don't work.

Has anyone found a better way around this?

~M

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
2/28/12 9:58 PM as a reply to Mike Kich.
You could sit in a chair. I used to think it was not legit, but... that's kind of silly, isn't it?

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
2/28/12 10:36 PM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Yea, chair could work if you can't sit on the floor without the circulation stopping - I wouldn't sit like that for long periods of time.

Have you tried the 'Burmese' position? crossed legged, but the legs aren't on top of each other

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
2/28/12 11:33 PM as a reply to Mike Kich.
Hi Mike,

The previous two suggestions are good possible solutions. I've used both in my time.

But the most important thing to be aware of accomplishing is what you mentioned in your question: "but I really do want to be able to do plain sitting meditation without being constantly distracted by my legs." Don't allow a physical pain to get in the way of your meditation session. Period! Do something to correct it so you can resume your meditation session.

I now sit cross-legged on my couch. When I begin to feel the numbing effect, I just immediately adjust my legs to restore circulation, meaning that I break the cross-legged position and drop them over the edge of the couch. I recommend doing that or anything else to make sure that you don't become distracted by physical aches and pains. And don't feel as though you are cheating or anything like that. The point of meditating is just that: to meditate, not to have to suffer through physical pains while meditating.

My basic recommendation is: Do whatever you have to do to relieve the physical situation and get back to your meditation as soon as possible.

Some people use such situations to observe their reaction to the painful situation. That can be useful in observation of the mind. But usually only for one or two sessions. After that, it becomes a bit old, if you understand what I mean.

Bottom line: there's no need to torture yourself when meditating. Return to basic recommendation: Do whatever you have to do to . . .

In peace,
Ian

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
2/29/12 12:52 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Hi Mike. I had (and still have) exactly this issue. I searched around for a solution and ended up using a meditation stool. It allows you sit comfortably in seiza position. In this posture there is no circulation issue and many people find the general effect on their spine, neck/shoulders very beneficial for longer sits.

I liked it so much I started a small company making them in the UK emoticon

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
2/29/12 5:57 AM as a reply to Mike Kich.
I hate to be that guy but legs falling asleep has nothing to do with blood circulation, it's caused by compressed nerves.

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
2/29/12 6:37 AM as a reply to Pål S..
Pål S.:
I hate to be that guy but legs falling asleep has nothing to do with blood circulation, it's caused by compressed nerves.


I've heard that as well. I couldn't find any good resources to work out what needs to be stretched/whatever though? I suspect with me it's the sciatic nerve being crushed by the piriformis, but no amount of stretching has so far helped...

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
2/29/12 7:19 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Whether its a nerve or blood flow, its still caused by one leg ontop of the other, isn't it?
Well thats the way it is in my case, anyway.
When I have pressure at certain points, a limb 'falls asleep', when I don't, it doesn't happen at all.

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
2/29/12 8:31 AM as a reply to Yadid dee.
If it is caused by just being one leg on top of the other, does it happen every time that you sit with one leg on top of the other? If it doesn't happen every time, then why is it that it happens sometimes only?

If it has to do just with pressure at certain points, then alleviating pressure at just those certain points should relieve the symptoms even if sitting cross-legged, right? But have you been able to pinpoint those certain points and able to relieve the pressure on just those pressure points while keeping on sitting and able to get the symptom of limbs falling asleep relieved? Why not?

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
2/29/12 8:45 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Bagpuss The Gnome:
Pål S.:
I hate to be that guy but legs falling asleep has nothing to do with blood circulation, it's caused by compressed nerves.


I've heard that as well. I couldn't find any good resources to work out what needs to be stretched/whatever though? I suspect with me it's the sciatic nerve being crushed by the piriformis, but no amount of stretching has so far helped...


Nerves carry signals which can act on muscles to control blood circulation, but what sends those signals through the nerves?

It is not the muscles that need stretching to relieve the pressure on the nerves, it is the mind itself that needs "stretching" to relieve the pressure on the nerves.

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
2/29/12 8:50 AM as a reply to Change A..
Aman A.:
If it is caused by just being one leg on top of the other, does it happen every time that you sit with one leg on top of the other? If it doesn't happen every time, then why is it that it happens sometimes only?

If it has to do just with pressure at certain points, then alleviating pressure at just those certain points should relieve the symptoms even if sitting cross-legged, right? But have you been able to pinpoint those certain points and able to relieve the pressure on just those pressure points while keeping on sitting and able to get the symptom of limbs falling asleep relieved? Why not?


Hi Aman,

Yes, I have found the specific postures that lead to this and have found the postures that do not lead to this.
The postures that do lead to this, lead to this everytime I sit in those ways for a certain amount of time.
The posutres that do not lead to this, do not lead to this even after prolonged periods of time.

Therefore I have stopped sitting in the ways that lead to the falling asleep of limbs, and have made a habit of sitting in the ways in which I can sit for prolonged periods of time without any limb falling asleep, though obviously in the course of practice many pains can arise, and that is ok.

emoticon

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
2/29/12 6:39 PM as a reply to Yadid dee.
Then this might be a good time to start with Kum-Nye which I think fills the gap between yoga and meditation and can show the practitioner how mental states affect physical body and how physical body affects mental states. It can give one a good hang of 'energy'.

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
2/29/12 6:47 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Bagpuss The Gnome:
I suspect with me it's the sciatic nerve being crushed by the piriformis, but no amount of stretching has so far helped...


Kum-Nye will help you as well because it is intermediary between just stretching (yoga) and meditation. Check out Tarthang Tulku's books on it. Extremely valuable to anyone having difficulties physically and which in turn help with meditation as well as life in general.

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
3/1/12 1:51 AM as a reply to Change A..
Thanks Aman. Which book would you recommend?

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
3/1/12 4:28 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Tibetan Relaxation: Kum Nye Massage and Movement by Tarthang Tulku.

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
3/1/12 5:45 AM as a reply to Change A..
Ordered!

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
3/1/12 8:50 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Cool!

Just so you know, I recommended this book because this is the only one that I have and I know for myself that every bit of description about this book at Amazon.com is true viz:

"These gentle exercises promote emotional and physical well-being by relieving tension, heightening energy, improving concentration and renewing clarity of the senses."

http://www.amazon.com/Tibetan-Relaxation-Kum-Massage-Movement/dp/0007662386

I will also get other books by Tarthang Tulku about Kum Nye soon.

RE: Legs fall asleep!
Answer
3/1/12 9:04 AM as a reply to Change A..
"These gentle exercises promote emotional and physical well-being by relieving tension, heightening energy, improving concentration and renewing clarity of the senses."


Yes. That's certainly what appeals to me!