As I write this I am sitting on the floor. Right now i have one leg straight out to the side and one leg bent. In a moment I will shift my position to introduce another geometry to my body.
The reason I tell you this is because I want to introduce you to the concept of floor sitting outside of yoga class. I often ask people if they sit on the floor much at home and usually they look at me like I’m crazy. Why would I go to the floor when I have that comfy couch? I get it.
Here is the thing, if you just sat on the floor (in varying ways) for ten or more minutes per day, you would be so much better off. Read the research here.
I think you should still come to yoga (!!) but really – just floor sitting would do wonders for you.
Your hip and hamstring flexibility would improve. Your core strength would improve as you practice getting up and down from the floor. Your knees – if healthy- would remain so. You would be less still; lying on a couch encourages a lot of stillness and I find I change positions much more when I’m floor sitting while watching tv or doing work at the computer. Start with lots of pillows and supports or even a try sitting on a low stool and getting up and down from there.
I know this is a huge shift in thinking and I personally know well the siren call of the couch or chair. I also see floor sitting as a major thing even some yogis can’t do. I remember my teacher Douglas talking about the yogis he took to India being able to do handstand but not being able to sit for an extended period of time to participate in the Homa Ritual. I even think some people put legs up the wall at the beginning of a yoga class to avoid floor sitting because it is so uncomfortable for them. (FYI love legs up the wall pose)
In general, there is a huge cultural bias towards more and more cushy comfort. Resist this. I am all for relaxation but sometimes we confuse happiness with comfort. Becoming comfortable on the floor does not take long and it will go a long way toward all the flexibility you are looking for in yoga class.
Here is an example…