Legs Falling Asleep

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Legs Falling Asleep

Postby Bakmoon » Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:05 pm

I have recently got back to sitting on the floor in half lotus, and with no cushion, for 30 minutes for my meditation sessions. I find that I get less sloth and torpor that way, but I have had a lot of issues with the leg I put on top falling asleep. Is this something that the legs eventually get used to and not fall asleep?
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: Legs Falling Asleep

Postby beeblebrox » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:54 pm

Hi Bakmoon,

I think the leg falling asleep reflects the tightness of some muscles around it, including the lower back. This might pull the leg together in a certain way where the sciata nerve becomes compressed... it is a large cord of nerve that runs down the back of the leg, a picture here.

I'm able to sit in half-lotus without the leg going numb... but I've found that this doesn't seem to carry over into the full lotus, where my leg (or both legs even) will go numb. I can sit in full-lotus quite comfortably... but still the leg goes numb after 15 minutes.

I've tried to apply my experience from the half-lotus to full-lotus, to try figure out how to keep the legs from going numb, but that doesn't seem to work. So, I experimented by stretching in several ways, just by trial and error, and when I lied on my back, while keeping the legs in full-lotus, I found some muscles that I never knew that I had. They were quite tight, and deep in the back of my thigh... I think that this is probably the cause.

Just experiment, learn how to relax the muscles in the legs. Don't allow any unnecessary tension to develop. Try to figure out how to position the legs in a way where the nerve will not be compressed. I actually learned all of that just by trial and error, with some reading.

Lately, there haven't been enough free time for me to go into the physics of my own sitting as deeply as I'd like... so it has been just regular samatha meditation for me. Good luck with your practice.

:anjali:
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Re: Legs Falling Asleep

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:34 pm

Bakmoon wrote:I have recently got back to sitting on the floor in half lotus, and with no cushion, for 30 minutes for my meditation sessions. I find that I get less sloth and torpor that way, but I have had a lot of issues with the leg I put on top falling asleep. Is this something that the legs eventually get used to and not fall asleep?


Use a cushion, put a pad or blanket under you and if its still a problem you might want to switch to the burmese position.
No points are awarded for masochism, use a cushion.
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"When a man comes to you with nothing,
what would you say to him ?"
Joshu replied, "Throw it away!"
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Re: Legs Falling Asleep

Postby beeblebrox » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:48 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:Use a cushion, put a pad or blanket under you and if its still a problem you might want to switch to the burmese position.
No points are awarded for masochism, use a cushion.


Actually, if you go about this in a masochistic way, you will not get very far. Learning how to sit properly without cushion I think requires sensitivity... similar to walking barefoot. Many people try to walk as if they still have their shoes on.

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Re: Legs Falling Asleep

Postby Bakmoon » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:38 pm

beeblebrox wrote:Hi Bakmoon,

I think the leg falling asleep reflects the tightness of some muscles around it, including the lower back. This might pull the leg together in a certain way where the sciata nerve becomes compressed... it is a large cord of nerve that runs down the back of the leg, a picture here.

I'm able to sit in half-lotus without the leg going numb... but I've found that this doesn't seem to carry over into the full lotus, where my leg (or both legs even) will go numb. I can sit in full-lotus quite comfortably... but still the leg goes numb after 15 minutes.

I've tried to apply my experience from the half-lotus to full-lotus, to try figure out how to keep the legs from going numb, but that doesn't seem to work. So, I experimented by stretching in several ways, just by trial and error, and when I lied on my back, while keeping the legs in full-lotus, I found some muscles that I never knew that I had. They were quite tight, and deep in the back of my thigh... I think that this is probably the cause.

Just experiment, learn how to relax the muscles in the legs. Don't allow any unnecessary tension to develop. Try to figure out how to position the legs in a way where the nerve will not be compressed. I actually learned all of that just by trial and error, with some reading.

Lately, there haven't been enough free time for me to go into the physics of my own sitting as deeply as I'd like... so it has been just regular samatha meditation for me. Good luck with your practice.

:anjali:


Thanks. I'll definitely try that out.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
Bakmoon
 
Posts: 187
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:14 pm

Re: Legs Falling Asleep

Postby Digity » Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:29 am

I had this issue, but it got better over time. It should improve with time.
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Re: Legs Falling Asleep

Postby Bakmoon » Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:25 pm

beeblebrox wrote:Hi Bakmoon,

I think the leg falling asleep reflects the tightness of some muscles around it, including the lower back. This might pull the leg together in a certain way where the sciata nerve becomes compressed... it is a large cord of nerve that runs down the back of the leg, a picture here.

I'm able to sit in half-lotus without the leg going numb... but I've found that this doesn't seem to carry over into the full lotus, where my leg (or both legs even) will go numb. I can sit in full-lotus quite comfortably... but still the leg goes numb after 15 minutes.

I've tried to apply my experience from the half-lotus to full-lotus, to try figure out how to keep the legs from going numb, but that doesn't seem to work. So, I experimented by stretching in several ways, just by trial and error, and when I lied on my back, while keeping the legs in full-lotus, I found some muscles that I never knew that I had. They were quite tight, and deep in the back of my thigh... I think that this is probably the cause.

Just experiment, learn how to relax the muscles in the legs. Don't allow any unnecessary tension to develop. Try to figure out how to position the legs in a way where the nerve will not be compressed. I actually learned all of that just by trial and error, with some reading.

Lately, there haven't been enough free time for me to go into the physics of my own sitting as deeply as I'd like... so it has been just regular samatha meditation for me. Good luck with your practice.

:anjali:


It turns out you were right. It turns out my leg was falling asleep because I was holding my back too erect, thus tensing my lower back muscles too much. If I sit without going too straight, my leg doesn't fall asleep. Thanks.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
Bakmoon
 
Posts: 187
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:14 pm

Re: Legs Falling Asleep

Postby ricebowl » Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:35 pm

I tend to think of it as blood circulation sometimes. While I may not be a seasoned meditator, as a teenager I ever tried to masturbate and I noticed that as blood gushes to the lower part of the body the brain itself doesn't contemplate as well as it does under normal circumstances. Occasionally when I meditate my mind despite having eyes closed actually feels more awake than it usually does. During that period of sitting I do not really recall what sort of sensations the legs actually experience (ain't sure whether you regard this as legs falling asleep), still the thing is that the needles and sharp sensations only arise when I get out of sitting in lotus position as if the legs "awoke" after 30 minutes..
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