Knees Touching the ground (posture question)

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

Knees Touching the ground (posture question)

Postby mddrill » Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:21 pm

I've read that in a cross legged posture your knees should touch the ground, and if not I either need to put pillows under my knees or get a higher seat. But I have relatively thick calf and thigh muscles which prevent my knees from touching the floor, what should I do in this situation? they say your weight should be balanced on your pelvis and knees but when I sit my weight is on my pelvis, calves and ankles (I sit Burmese style with a buckwheat zafu, a blanket underneath to make it higher, and no zabuton or support cushions) the only way my knees could possibly touch the ground would be if I had a seat high enough to make my thighs perpendicular to the ground.

I also feel strain on my knees which isn't painful but worries me that It could cause problems in the long run.

Any advice would be helpful,
Thanks
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Re: Knees Touching the ground (posture question)

Postby PsychedelicSunSet » Sat Apr 19, 2014 8:15 pm

To my knowledge the important part isn't necessarily having your knees touch the ground (although it's a plus), it's having your knees below or level with your hips. When your knees are elevated above your hips is when problems start to arise. And that sounds like quite a lot of height for your seat! I find that a seat that high usually gives me back/shoulder problems. It's possible that having a seat that high might be causing some of the knee discomfort. Have you tried sitting with a lower seat? I would watch this video about common alignment mistakes made in meditation, and see if you're making any of those. You may also want to try some other positions out. Ones that use your hip flexibility to angle your knees down. I hope some of this helps you find your answer.


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Re: Knees Touching the ground (posture question)

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Apr 19, 2014 8:27 pm

Yes it is important to have your knees touching the ground as this gives you balance and means there will be less weight on your buttocks and strain on your back, however if you have thick calves then as long as your calves are lying flat this is much the same thing.

Google the butterfly stretch, I did this daily for about a month to get me knees on the ground.
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Re: Knees Touching the ground (posture question)

Postby beeblebrox » Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:19 pm

I think it is more crucial to have the pelvis in a vertical position, not rolled under. The latter will pull down your back along with it, causing you more work to sit upright.

After I broke my leg few years ago, it was impossible for me to bring down the knee to the ground for a couple years. I just sat with that knee up off the ground (it was around 1 ft. above), even with no support under it. I didn't have much problem. It was because I kept my pelvis balanced... just one knee on the ground was good enough.

Over the time, that knee just dropped a bit by a bit to the ground, till it's touched completely. I also used to do some stretching before every sit.

These days, I don't bother trying to force the legs down to the ground. If they feel stiff, I just sit like that at first... and then in few minutes the thighs will just roll out by themselves (the buttocks might have to be picked up off the ground first), and the knees will drop down comfortably.

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Re: Knees Touching the ground (posture question)

Postby James the Giant » Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:56 pm

I damaged one knee permanently by sitting through the pain during meditation retreats where the teacher said "just ignore the knee pain, sit through it, it's okay". No, it was not okay, and 10 years later I'm still paying the price for listening to that foolish, ignorant teacher. It was not meditation-imaginary pain, it was real cartilage damage being done to my delicate knees.
Many older western monks have knee damage, and it is from sitting in meditation on the floor. And the stupid thing is, there is no reason to sit on the floor. Is is just a custom, a pointless tradition, a cultural thing from Asia.
Use a chair or a seiza bench.
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saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
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Re: Knees Touching the ground (posture question)

Postby Ananda26 » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:01 pm

mddrill wrote:I've read that in a cross legged posture your knees should touch the ground, and if not I either need to put pillows under my knees or get a higher seat. But I have relatively thick calf and thigh muscles which prevent my knees from touching the floor, what should I do in this situation? they say your weight should be balanced on your pelvis and knees but when I sit my weight is on my pelvis, calves and ankles (I sit Burmese style with a buckwheat zafu, a blanket underneath to make it higher, and no zabuton or support cushions) the only way my knees could possibly touch the ground would be if I had a seat high enough to make my thighs perpendicular to the ground.

I also feel strain on my knees which isn't painful but worries me that It could cause problems in the long run.

Any advice would be helpful,
Thanks


One can put a robe or sometype of clothing under one or both knees. This may make it easier to meditate longer.

Actual injuries are very rare in meditation. So I recommend to keep trying to increase the meditation time and you probably do not need to worry too much about the feeling. You can also include Walking Meditation with the Sitting Meditation.
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Re: Knees Touching the ground (posture question)

Postby Wideshanks » Thu May 08, 2014 12:32 am

James the Giant wrote:I damaged one knee permanently by sitting through the pain during meditation retreats where the teacher said "just ignore the knee pain, sit through it, it's okay". No, it was not okay, and 10 years later I'm still paying the price for listening to that foolish, ignorant teacher. It was not meditation-imaginary pain, it was real cartilage damage being done to my delicate knees.
Many older western monks have knee damage, and it is from sitting in meditation on the floor. And the stupid thing is, there is no reason to sit on the floor. Is is just a custom, a pointless tradition, a cultural thing from Asia.
Use a chair or a seiza bench.


What posture did he/she have you sit in?
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Re: Knees Touching the ground (posture question)

Postby James the Giant » Thu May 08, 2014 5:50 am

Wideshanks wrote:What posture did he/she have you sit in?

Cross legged, on a cushion, the common way.
Fine for a day or two, but then the inflexibility of the hips causes force to be transferred to the knees, slowly but constantly forcing the knee joint to try to bend sideways- not the way it's designed to bend! This pinches knee cartilige like a bolt cutter - two long bones of your leg magnifying or focusing the force.
It's all to do with how flexible the hips are, and most westerners are not flexible enough in that area.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Knees Touching the ground (posture question)

Postby greeneggsandsam » Thu May 08, 2014 1:37 pm

James the Giant wrote:
Wideshanks wrote:What posture did he/she have you sit in?

Cross legged, on a cushion, the common way.
Fine for a day or two, but then the inflexibility of the hips causes force to be transferred to the knees, slowly but constantly forcing the knee joint to try to bend sideways- not the way it's designed to bend! This pinches knee cartilige like a bolt cutter - two long bones of your leg magnifying or focusing the force.
It's all to do with how flexible the hips are, and most westerners are not flexible enough in that area.


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Out of curiosity what posture do you sit in now?
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