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Thread: Numb Legs

  1. #1

    Numb Legs

    Hello all! Since it has been some time since the most recent posts on this topic, as far as I could find in a search, I wanted to ask again:

    I sit in the Burmese position since my knees can't seem to handle half or full lotus and I seem to weigh a bit too much for my zafu to be able to support seiza. That said, after only 20 minutes, my left leg goes so numb that I can hardly feel my foot and I struggle to stand. Walking is incredibly unpleasant

    Does anyone have any advice for how to avoid this? Should I perhaps take a little longer before I stand? Or is my only real option to lose this 30 or so pounds I need to lose?

    Gassho
    SatToday
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  2. #2
    Try some leg and hip stretches before sitting. Loosening things up a bit may help some.


    Gassho,

    Junkyo
    SAT

    Sent from my SM-G955W using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    For me i switch which leg is in front and keep sitting. You dont need to feel your legs whilst sitting anyway

    Just make sure to wake them up before you start walking around, it can be dangerous if you dont.



    Washu

    Sat today lah

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-J727AZ using Tapatalk
    --Washu
    和 Harmony
    秀 Excellence

    "Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body" George Carlin Roshi

  4. #4
    Thank you both so much! Unfortunately stretching doesn't help a whole lot, but I'm going to continue stretching first anyway. I may try putting a regular cushion under my zafu and see if it makes any difference.

    My wife recommends stretching my legs before I stand as well, so I'll try that too.
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    Thank you both so much! Unfortunately stretching doesn't help a whole lot, but I'm going to continue stretching first anyway. I may try putting a regular cushion under my zafu and see if it makes any difference.

    My wife recommends stretching my legs before I stand as well, so I'll try that too.
    I didnt realize you werent using a zabuton. You might give that a shot. The stretching before and after will never hurt, and no matter what.... just sit

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-J727AZ using Tapatalk
    --Washu
    和 Harmony
    秀 Excellence

    "Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body" George Carlin Roshi

  6. #6
    Stretching is good, but it can be a slow process, so you may need to be patient to see improvement. Core strengthening is also helpful for zazen, because if you can hold yourself up better, you'll put less pressure on your legs and hips. Of course it might not help, depending on what you have going on. If your leg is going numb because you have, for example, really narrow openings in your hips that pinch the nerves, stretching won't help that so much. On the other hand, a good stretching regimen is one of the best things you can do for your physical body in general so I recommend it anyway. If your cushion is too squishy for seiza, you can try yoga blocks turned on their side with or without a pillow on top. They're pretty cheap and won't collapse like a soft cushion. Seiza benches are fantastic, but expensive, and not everyone likes them so I'd recommend testing one out at a Zen center if possible before dropping a bunch of money on one. And don't discount chair zazen!

    Gassho
    Kyōshin
    Satlah

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk

  7. #7
    A patient walks into the examination room and says "hey doctor, when I go like this it hurts."

    Doctor replies "Don't go like this then."

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_
    Last edited by Jishin; 05-04-2019 at 03:02 AM.

  8. #8
    Victor;

    Don't give up too soon. As Kyoshin says, be patient and take the time to stretch (and relax) before you sit. And, say some metta for yourself

    gassho, Shokai

    stlah
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

  9. #9
    It is the sciatic nerve being pressed, nothing dangerous if just for a time. I just lean a little to the side, like the Tower of Pisa, when it happens, taking the pressure of the nerve and it usually vanishes.

    More here ...

    =====

    This book on posture during Zazen is highly recommended around here ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...itting+johnson

    Usually, legs which tingle or "fall asleep" are due putting some pressure on the sciatic nerve ...

    My friend, Rev. Nonin Chowaney (Nebraska Zen Center) writes this ...


    There are many ways to sit zazen: full-lotus, half-lotus, quarter-lotus (with foot on calf), burmese (with both feet on the floor), seiza (Japanese kneeling posture) with the zafu on it's side, seiza on two zafus (one on top of the others), seiza on a bench, and sitting in a chair (this is frequently necessary for those who have injured themselves or with joint replacements). Also, some people with severe physical problems or illness sit zazen lying down.

    I recommend to all beginners that they sit as close to full lotus posture as they can for as long as they can. I also suggest that they sit somewhere between wimp and macho. Sit until it becomes uncomfortable, and then sit a few minutes more before you change postures. If you change too soon, you won't stretch out. On the other hand, don't tough it out for so long that you do yourself damage.

    Also, learn the difference between soft tissue or muscle pain and nerve pain. Everyone's legs fall asleep from time to time. Sometimes bending forward will take the pressure off the sciatic nerve and the legs will wake up. If your legs are asleep at the end of a sitting and they come back quickly as you stretch them out and get up, I wouldn't worry about it. If they don't and the numbness persists for some time, don't sit the way you have been. You can damage nerves. If you damage 1/8" of a nerve, it can take months to heal.

    Anytime you hold the body in a specific position, it will hurt. Just try holding your arm out parallel to the floor for any length of time. Sitting zazen for any length of time will hurt most people, although some can without pain. I have never been very limber, and I sat seiza for three years when I first started while I did exercises and stretched out. Then, I was able to sit burmese style. Eventually I was able to sit quarter-lotus and then half-lotus. I've never been able to sit full-lotus, and as I've aged, I've gone back to quarter lotus. Also, I have a knee problem, and when it flared up severely a couple of years ago, I spent six months sitting in a chair.
    When my legs begin to "fall asleep", I lightly shift my weight on the Zafu to the left or right (or front or back) as needed to slightly take my weight off the top of my thigh. That seems to work. Also, if sitting in Full or Half Lotus, I will "gassho" and untangle my legs (usually into Burmese) about a minute or two before I need to stand up. The feeling is usually back by that time.

    If not, I usually do what I call the "butt shift" , gently putting my weight slightly more on one butt cheek or the other, while lightening the load on the other, or subtly shifting slightly back or forth. It tends to take the pressure of the nerve. If you really need too, you might also try untangling the legs a bit about a minute before the bell will ring.

    Also, is you underwear too tight, your pants pinching your upper thigh or circulation? (This is one reason that we wear loose fitting trousers in Zazen ... and avoid Jeans and such).

    I might just add that our Zazen is often practice in microcosm for experiencing our whole life. Our lives are sometimes pain, including physical pain. Zazen recognizes that fact. We have to embrace that fact.

    So, nothing wrong with trying to make the pain or other unpleasantness go away. We move our legs, shift our posture, do whatever we can. Still, we accept it is there, whether it goes away or not (acceptance without acceptance). No running from the pain, even as we try to walk away from it. If it really will not go away no matter what we do, that is just our life. We just sit with it.

    We also learn that, in all cases, there is a great degree of "mind over matter" to pain. Our minds magnify the pain, focus on it. Our minds can also do the opposite. It may not make the pain go away, but mind and body are one.

    Remember, pain is not suffering without more ...

    All that being said, we also do not do Zazen to the point that there is a real risk of damage to the body. If you overdo with the pain, nerve damage and the like is possible. Even if you need to stand up in the middle of Zazen and do Zazen that way, as walking meditation, no problem. But, to be with a reasonable bit of pain now and then is part of Practice.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Thanks again, everyone! I'll definitely have to try shifting around a bit to see if that helps. Thank you! I almost never wear trousers that aren't loose. As for my underwear, I feel like it isn't too tight but it could be! I'll try a different pair sometime and see if that helps!

    For all I know, perhaps there could be an issue with my zafu as well? I can post an image of it if that would be helpful. And I haven't been using a zabuton because a zafu is all I could afford at the time, honestly.

    I'll definitely try out different things that were suggested here!

    Gassho!

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  11. #11
    Don't sit too far back on the Zafu either. Try sitting on the forward 1\3. Also, if it is too hard or soft could have an effect ... the bottom line is that something is pressing the nerve.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Don't sit too far back on the Zafu either. Try sitting on the forward 1\3. Also, if it is too hard or soft could have an effect ... the bottom line is that something is pressing the nerve.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    I'll have to work on it! I feel like it may be too soft in some ways, too hard in others. I'll have to eventually get one like yours when I can eventually afford it.

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  13. #13
    This is the style I got and it has become rather pliable. I guess I'm already crushing the buckwheat filling down. I could maybe make a new filling layer to add to it.

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  14. #14
    Dear Victor,

    If the numbness starts from the knee, you have tightness in the hip. If it starts from the hip, its a back problem.

    The knee is a hinge joint, like a door, if your hips are tight and have limited external rotation, this applies an unnatural twist to the knee that will impinge the tibial nerve on the inside of the leg.

    The sciatic nerve passes out of the lower back either under or through the piriformis muscle. Typically sciatic problems come with shooting pain going into the big toe.

    Doing yoga/stretches specifically for hips and lower back should help to improve ranges of movement and reduce numbness.

    Frequent, prolonged and repeated nerve impingement can cause nerve damage later in life, so it is not harmless.

    Are you able to have someone examine your posture?

    Love and bows,
    Chishou
    Sat


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Ask not what the Sangha can do for you, but what you can do for your Sangha.

  15. #15
    Hi Victor,

    there's lots of advice here that I'm not qualified to add to - particularly because I have to 'sit' Zazen mainly lying down or semi- recline.
    Because of that I haven't been through the process of trying different positions and waiting to see if things loosen up or pain/discomfort and one's attitude towards it becomes part of the meditation process.

    But what might be interesting would be to drop all expectations of sitting a certain way and simply try chair meditation. It might be useful to explore whether that feels significantly different and whether certain attachments are at play here.

    Just a thought,

    Gassho

    Jinyo

    ST

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Jinyo View Post
    Hi Victor,

    there's lots of advice here that I'm not qualified to add to - particularly because I have to 'sit' Zazen mainly lying down or semi- recline.
    Because of that I haven't been through the process of trying different positions and waiting to see if things loosen up or pain/discomfort and one's attitude towards it becomes part of the meditation process.

    But what might be interesting would be to drop all expectations of sitting a certain way and simply try chair meditation. It might be useful to explore whether that feels significantly different and whether certain attachments are at play here.

    Just a thought,

    Gassho

    Jinyo

    ST
    Took me a long while to come to this conclusion.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  17. #17
    I admit that it is possible that I could be attached to sitting on the cushion. I'm a young man of 28 with no history of major injuries or any serious conditions. I mostly just have a bit of a weight issue and flexibility issue that I need to work on.

    That said, all of your advice is still important to take to heart. I do need to push myself to try towards lotus over time, but keeping a chair nearby if I need it. It is definitely important that I try not to hurt myself.

    It's funny: I used to think I was sitting in half lotus, but I didn't realize that both knees are supposed to touch the floor. Once I adjusted it, I realized my ankles and knees couldn't handle it, so I switched it Burmese.

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  18. #18
    Victor,

    There is already some great advice here, but I wanted to share a few thing from my perspective as a fat yogi who can't sit full or half lotus. For this conversation I will say that I am a certified yoga teacher, although I don't teach anymore.

    One question I didn't see asked that I'm curious about is, is it new that you are going numb at the 20 min mark? Or is it new that you are sitting for 20 mins? I ask because it will lead to different things to think about.

    First if it is the case that this is a new development, for example you had been comfortably sitting for 20 mins without this problem and now you are getting it. Then there are a few things to consider. I used to be able to sit comfortably for 30 minutes in burmense without going numb or needing to adjust. But now, I can barely make 10 mins without needing to adjust. The change is because I commute much more than I used (over 2 hours a day... ugh). So the use on my driving leg and that hip have more than doubled suddenly. It is enough that stretching can't keep up with the change, and now whichever leg is in front while sitting goes numb between 10-15 mins. This is the most recent change to my sitting probably over the past 6 months.

    A few years ago sitting became uncomfortable, and I realized that after a year of sitting on the husk filled cushion it had broken down. I ordered some buckwheat husk and stuffed it fuller. Solved the problem. I'm overweight so it isn't shocking that I would wear out a cushion after sitting it on it daily for a year. I'm sure everyone eventually wears their cushion out.

    So I would suggest if it is something that has come on recently look for what has maybe changed.

    If it is the second that sitting for 20 mins is new or has never been comfortable, then I would start adjusting things (one thing at a time). I swear right now everyday when I sit something feels different. My zafu doesn't get moved around, but I'll sit down and it will feel completely different than the day before. So I take a few moments to make sure that I have adjusted myself as best I can. If you watch the zazenkais you can see Jundo shifting back and forth when he first sits. This movement can help to get the sit bones on the cushion and make sure you feel balanced.

    I'm much slower getting settled, I shift back and forth a bit, then fold my legs gently, wiggle my toes, wiggle around a little to make sure nothing feels tight at the start. If something does feel tight then I support it. For example since my driving hip is super tight right now that leg often gets a small towel folded under the knee to support the hip and give it a gentler fall to the floor.

    It takes time and the stinky thing is that it will continue to change... because you know everyday is a new day and the body is a little different. Keep playing with it if you want. Or as Jinyo notes above, perhaps practice with sitting in a chair and let go of sitting on the cushion for a while.

    Good luck!

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday (on a stack of drywall at the jobsite)
    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  19. #19
    Hi Victor,


    I was struggling with the same issue and I still do but to a lesser extent. The height of the zafu also matters. My old zafu, a traditional one, is about 8 centimeters or 3.14 inches and caused what you described in your first post. One day I tried my sensei's zafu which is 14 centimeters or 5.5 inches and it allowed me to sit longer in Burmese position. I got one myself and it has been much more comfortable, but not too comfortable because I still have to switch legs after 15-20 minutes most of the times. Gradually I'm trying to increase hip flexibility so I'll be able to sit on the lower zafu one day again. The new cushion isn't a zafu in the traditional sense of the word but has rounded edges and is known as a round meditation cushion. Remove or add some of the buckwheat each time you sit until you find that sweet spot that allows you to sit a bit more comfortably.

    Gassho,
    Jack
    Sattoday

  20. #20
    Hi Victor,
    I have a similar problem that I want to bring here. Iíve already talked a little with Jundo some months ago and his advices were very helpful. Perhaps I can also find some help like you, and perhaps me bringing it here can help you not to have them in the future.
    Iím also over weighted and recently the combination of my weight with my general bad posture and 9 hours per week driving brought me a hernia in the spine. I used to sit in Burmese for some years (not everyday, though). But now my back hernia hurt a lot when I sit in Burmese. I think itís because of my weight and bad posture that make me force the back muscles in order to maintain the posture without collapsing and the combination of this and the hernia make it very uncomfortable.
    Iíd like to say that I can ignore this pain like many others, mainly because it is nothing compared to what other people feel and is really a minor problem. But I keep switching positions while sitting and I canít let go of body and mind.
    I tried to switch to chair zazen, but it only increased the pain. I think itís because the lack of balance and the difficulty to keep the spine straight. So, Burmese and chair are very similar to me. I find both very unstable and painful for the back.
    So, I switched to full lotus and the pain in the back almost disappeared while sitting (tough not while driving or sitting in a chair in front of the computer). I think it is because of the pressure in the legs that forces the spine to realign and relieves the pressure in the hernia and the muscles around it. Or perhaps itís only my mind that creates the illusion of less pain and it is all a placebo effect. But it works great.
    Half and quarter lotus is better than Burmese to my back, but not so as full lotus.
    Seiza is also an excellent position for my back that I tried. But I donít have a seiza bench (too expensive, but perhaps worth the money) and my zafu is too soft to maintain me. So I sit Japanese style directly in the zabuton.
    The problem is that I canít maintain lotus for more than 20 or 25 minutes (sometimes I manage 30 minutes, but it is rare), and seiza for even less (10 to 15 minutes maximum), so I end the last minutes in Burmese as the pain in the back will slowly grow.
    But with time my knees started to hurt not only during zazen, but during the day as well.
    This Monday I decided to sit in Burmese the whole week, which I did. Today (Saturday) my knees donít hurt anymore, but my back is in more pain than usually.
    So Iíll probably return to lotus (half or full) and will have to find some good stretches for my knee and legs.
    Talking to Jundo and now reading this thread, I realized that part of the problem is my zafu. It has almost ten years and is not hugely small, but itís not tall nor firm enough. My mother-in-law sews professionally (my zabuton was made for her, by the way). She offered to make one for me larger and firmer than mine. But buckwheat filling is difficult to find, so she uses a harder filling.
    I thank everyone that gave Victor this great suggestions and I will make use of them to see if my problem can also be solved.

    And if I can make a suggestion to you, Victor if the numbness is persistent as my back pain and if it doesnít go away after sitting, I will suggest that you find some professional help. I went to an orthopedist and am now doing physiotherapy and Pilates. It has helped me a lot with the pain. If your leg is getting numb of the cushion too, perhaps this can help you as well.
    Thank you all and good practice, Victor.
    Gassho,
    Mateus
    Sat/LAH
    Last edited by mateus.baldin; 05-04-2019 at 11:02 PM.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Shoka View Post
    Victor,

    There is already some great advice here, but I wanted to share a few thing from my perspective as a fat yogi who can't sit full or half lotus. For this conversation I will say that I am a certified yoga teacher, although I don't teach anymore.

    One question I didn't see asked that I'm curious about is, is it new that you are going numb at the 20 min mark? Or is it new that you are sitting for 20 mins? I ask because it will lead to different things to think about.

    First if it is the case that this is a new development, for example you had been comfortably sitting for 20 mins without this problem and now you are getting it. Then there are a few things to consider. I used to be able to sit comfortably for 30 minutes in burmense without going numb or needing to adjust. But now, I can barely make 10 mins without needing to adjust. The change is because I commute much more than I used (over 2 hours a day... ugh). So the use on my driving leg and that hip have more than doubled suddenly. It is enough that stretching can't keep up with the change, and now whichever leg is in front while sitting goes numb between 10-15 mins. This is the most recent change to my sitting probably over the past 6 months.

    A few years ago sitting became uncomfortable, and I realized that after a year of sitting on the husk filled cushion it had broken down. I ordered some buckwheat husk and stuffed it fuller. Solved the problem. I'm overweight so it isn't shocking that I would wear out a cushion after sitting it on it daily for a year. I'm sure everyone eventually wears their cushion out.

    So I would suggest if it is something that has come on recently look for what has maybe changed.

    If it is the second that sitting for 20 mins is new or has never been comfortable, then I would start adjusting things (one thing at a time). I swear right now everyday when I sit something feels different. My zafu doesn't get moved around, but I'll sit down and it will feel completely different than the day before. So I take a few moments to make sure that I have adjusted myself as best I can. If you watch the zazenkais you can see Jundo shifting back and forth when he first sits. This movement can help to get the sit bones on the cushion and make sure you feel balanced.

    I'm much slower getting settled, I shift back and forth a bit, then fold my legs gently, wiggle my toes, wiggle around a little to make sure nothing feels tight at the start. If something does feel tight then I support it. For example since my driving hip is super tight right now that leg often gets a small towel folded under the knee to support the hip and give it a gentler fall to the floor.

    It takes time and the stinky thing is that it will continue to change... because you know everyday is a new day and the body is a little different. Keep playing with it if you want. Or as Jinyo notes above, perhaps practice with sitting in a chair and let go of sitting on the cushion for a while.

    Good luck!

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday (on a stack of drywall at the jobsite)
    Well, sitting for 20 minutes is relatively new. About 2-3 months. I strive for daily, sometimes things come up. I feel like the numbness wasn't as intense until after my first time sitting a 30 minute stretch during zazenkai. Now 20 does it.

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Kakedashi View Post
    Hi Victor,


    I was struggling with the same issue and I still do but to a lesser extent. The height of the zafu also matters. My old zafu, a traditional one, is about 8 centimeters or 3.14 inches and caused what you described in your first post. One day I tried my sensei's zafu which is 14 centimeters or 5.5 inches and it allowed me to sit longer in Burmese position. I got one myself and it has been much more comfortable, but not too comfortable because I still have to switch legs after 15-20 minutes most of the times. Gradually I'm trying to increase hip flexibility so I'll be able to sit on the lower zafu one day again. The new cushion isn't a zafu in the traditional sense of the word but has rounded edges and is known as a round meditation cushion. Remove or add some of the buckwheat each time you sit until you find that sweet spot that allows you to sit a bit more comfortably.

    Gassho,
    Jack
    Sattoday
    Thanks so much! I'll try raising it with a cushion or two first. After that, I'll try buying more buckwheat hulls so I can try different degrees of fullness.

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by mateus.baldin View Post
    Hi Victor,
    I have a similar problem that I want to bring here. Iíve already talked a little with Juno some months ago and his advices were very helpful. Perhaps I can also find some help like you, and perhaps me bringing it here can help you not to have them in the future.
    Iím also over weighted and recently the combination of my weight with my general bad posture and 9 hours per week driving brought me a hernia in the spine. I used to sit in Burmese for some years (not everyday, though). But now my back hernia hurt a lot when I sit in Burmese. I think itís because of my weight and bad posture that make me force the back muscles in order to maintain the posture without collapsing and the combination of this and the hernia make it very uncomfortable.
    Iíd like to say that I can ignore this pain like many others, mainly because it is nothing compared to what other people feel and is really a minor problem. But I keep switching positions while sitting and I canít let go of body and mind.
    I tried to switch to chair zazen, but it only increased the pain. I think itís because the lack of balance and the difficulty to keep the spine straight. So, Burmese and chair are very similar to me. I find both very unstable and painful for the back.
    So, I switched to full lotus and the pain in the back almost disappeared while sitting (tough not while driving or sitting in a chair in front of the computer). I think it is because of the pressure in the legs that forces the spine to realign and relieves the pressure in the hernia and the muscles around it. Or perhaps itís only my mind that creates the illusion of less pain and it is all a placebo effect. But it works great.
    Half and quarter lotus is better than Burmese to my back, but not so as full lotus.
    Seiza is also an excellent position for my back that I tried. But I donít have a seiza bench (too expensive, but perhaps worth the money) and my zafu is too soft to maintain me. So I sit Japanese style directly in the zabuton.
    The problem is that I canít maintain lotus for more than 20 or 25 minutes (sometimes I manage 30 minutes, but it is rare), and seiza for even less (10 to 15 minutes maximum), so I end the last minutes in Burmese as the pain in the back will slowly grow.
    But with time my knees started to hurt not only during zazen, but during the day as well.
    This Monday I decided to sit in Burmese the whole week, which I did. Today (Saturday) my knees donít hurt anymore, but my back is in more pain than usually.
    So Iíll probably return to lotus (half or full) and will have to find some good stretches for my knee and legs.
    Talking to Jundo and now reading this thread, I realized that part of the problem is my zafu. It has almost ten years and is not hugely small, but itís not tall nor firm enough. My mother-in-law sews professionally (my zabuton was made for her, by the way). She offered to make one for me larger and firmer than mine. But buckwheat filling is difficult to find, so she uses a harder filling.
    I thank everyone that gave Victor this great suggestions and I will make use of them to see if my problem can also be solved.

    And if I can make a suggestion to you, Victor if the numbness is persistent as my back pain and if it doesnít go away after sitting, I will suggest that you find some professional help. I went to an orthopedist and am now doing physiotherapy and Pilates. It has helped me a lot with the pain. If your leg is getting numb of the cushion too, perhaps this can help you as well.
    Thank you all and good practice, Victor.
    Gassho,
    Mateus
    Sat/LAH
    I'm glad you were able to find some good advice here and with Jundo! I really hope it helps! I'll have to try filling my zafu more full as well and see if it helps

    Unfortunately my knees won't even go into any lotus postures. Either way, stretching is definitely a need!

    Thanks so much, Mateus!

    Good practice to you as well and gassho!

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  24. #24
    Thank you, Victor. Letís practice together.

    Mateus
    Sat/LAH
    Last edited by mateus.baldin; 05-05-2019 at 01:57 AM.

  25. #25
    Absolutely, brother! And thank you! Gassho!

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by mateus.baldin View Post
    Hi Victor,
    I have a similar problem that I want to bring here. Iíve already talked a little with Jundo some months ago and his advices were very helpful. Perhaps I can also find some help like you, and perhaps me bringing it here can help you not to have them in the future.
    Iím also over weighted and recently the combination of my weight with my general bad posture and 9 hours per week driving brought me a hernia in the spine. I used to sit in Burmese for some years (not everyday, though). But now my back hernia hurt a lot when I sit in Burmese. I think itís because of my weight and bad posture that make me force the back muscles in order to maintain the posture without collapsing and the combination of this and the hernia make it very uncomfortable.
    Iíd like to say that I can ignore this pain like many others, mainly because it is nothing compared to what other people feel and is really a minor problem. But I keep switching positions while sitting and I canít let go of body and mind.
    I tried to switch to chair zazen, but it only increased the pain. I think itís because the lack of balance and the difficulty to keep the spine straight. So, Burmese and chair are very similar to me. I find both very unstable and painful for the back.
    So, I switched to full lotus and the pain in the back almost disappeared while sitting (tough not while driving or sitting in a chair in front of the computer). I think it is because of the pressure in the legs that forces the spine to realign and relieves the pressure in the hernia and the muscles around it. Or perhaps itís only my mind that creates the illusion of less pain and it is all a placebo effect. But it works great.
    Half and quarter lotus is better than Burmese to my back, but not so as full lotus.
    Seiza is also an excellent position for my back that I tried. But I donít have a seiza bench (too expensive, but perhaps worth the money) and my zafu is too soft to maintain me. So I sit Japanese style directly in the zabuton.
    The problem is that I canít maintain lotus for more than 20 or 25 minutes (sometimes I manage 30 minutes, but it is rare), and seiza for even less (10 to 15 minutes maximum), so I end the last minutes in Burmese as the pain in the back will slowly grow.
    But with time my knees started to hurt not only during zazen, but during the day as well.
    This Monday I decided to sit in Burmese the whole week, which I did. Today (Saturday) my knees donít hurt anymore, but my back is in more pain than usually.
    So Iíll probably return to lotus (half or full) and will have to find some good stretches for my knee and legs.
    Talking to Jundo and now reading this thread, I realized that part of the problem is my zafu. It has almost ten years and is not hugely small, but itís not tall nor firm enough. My mother-in-law sews professionally (my zabuton was made for her, by the way). She offered to make one for me larger and firmer than mine. But buckwheat filling is difficult to find, so she uses a harder filling.
    I thank everyone that gave Victor this great suggestions and I will make use of them to see if my problem can also be solved.

    And if I can make a suggestion to you, Victor if the numbness is persistent as my back pain and if it doesnít go away after sitting, I will suggest that you find some professional help. I went to an orthopedist and am now doing physiotherapy and Pilates. It has helped me a lot with the pain. If your leg is getting numb of the cushion too, perhaps this can help you as well.
    Thank you all and good practice, Victor.
    Gassho,
    Mateus
    Sat/LAH
    I have a zafu 25 cm tall with buckwheat husks, my height is 182 cm, weight 79 kg and everything is fine

    Gassho,
    Oleg
    Sat today, Lend a Hand
    [Gassholook]:Будда:: TL:

  27. #27
    Sounds like I definitely need a taller, firmer zafu!

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    Sounds like I definitely need a taller, firmer zafu!

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    I do not know

    Gassho,
    Oleg
    Sat today, Lend a Hand
    [Gassholook]:Будда:: TL:

  29. #29
    Haha!

    Gassho, my friend!

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  30. #30
    I'm also around 182 cm and 100 kg

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    I'm also around 182 cm and 100 kg

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    You can stuff or unstuff a Zafu to adjust the firmness ...

    https://www.instructables.com/id/Mak...tation-pillow/

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  32. #32
    Thank you Jundo, that is likely what I'll do!

    Gassho

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  33. #33
    I love how these threads really demonstrate that something a little different works for everyone.

    I canít sit cross-legged because I have hip issues. Seiza is my preference, but even then my legs go to sleep at 30 minutes so I shift my weight subtly in different directions as Jundo suggests, as well as straightening my spine when I catch it getting curved. I sit seiza on a Monastery Store Mountain Seat and Memory foam Zabuton which makes me feel like I am cheating sometimes because they are so comfortable! The height takes pressure off my ankles in seiza.

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    I love how these threads really demonstrate that something a little different works for everyone.

    I canít sit cross-legged because I have hip issues. Seiza is my preference, but even then my legs go to sleep at 30 minutes so I shift my weight subtly in different directions as Jundo suggests, as well as straightening my spine when I catch it getting curved. I sit seiza on a Monastery Store Mountain Seat and Memory foam Zabuton which makes me feel like I am cheating sometimes because they are so comfortable! The height takes pressure off my ankles in seiza.

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    Thank you so much Jakuden! You're absolutely right! I may try to make a seiza bench sometime. Seiza is a position I like, but my ankles can't handle my weight even with a zafu. I'd honestly love to try one of those Zafu and zabuton sets you were talking about, but unfortunately they are quite expensive and I currently have no income. That will be rectified though I am unsure of when haha.

    Gassho,
    Victor

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    Thank you so much Jakuden! You're absolutely right! I may try to make a seiza bench sometime. Seiza is a position I like, but my ankles can't handle my weight even with a zafu. I'd honestly love to try one of those Zafu and zabuton sets you were talking about, but unfortunately they are quite expensive and I currently have no income. That will be rectified though I am unsure of when haha.

    Gassho,
    Victor

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    The ancestors didnt really have much of an income either. Sit on some folded blankets, on a couch coushion (rotate them out so they wear evenly), a dog bed, or your bed. There are 108 and excuses to not sit

    One of these days ill get around to making my tutorial on how to fold a hoodie into a zafu

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-J727AZ using Tapatalk
    --Washu
    和 Harmony
    秀 Excellence

    "Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body" George Carlin Roshi

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by threethirty View Post
    The ancestors didnt really have much of an income either. Sit on some folded blankets, on a couch coushion (rotate them out so they wear evenly), a dog bed, or your bed. There are 108 and excuses to not sit

    One of these days ill get around to making my tutorial on how to fold a hoodie into a zafu

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-J727AZ using Tapatalk
    I first started out sitting directly on the floor. Then I started using folded blankets. Now I have this zafu and will likely put a cushion and/or a folded blanket under it.

    Believe me, I'm not trying to make any excuses
    Gassho

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by threethirty View Post
    The ancestors didnt really have much of an income either. Sit on some folded blankets, on a couch coushion (rotate them out so they wear evenly), a dog bed, or your bed. There are 108 and excuses to not sit

    One of these days ill get around to making my tutorial on how to fold a hoodie into a zafu

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-J727AZ using Tapatalk
    Yes, but a couch cushion or folded blanket may be too soft without some support.

    We had this wonderful tip awhile back on firming up those blankets (thank you, Kotei) ...

    how to fold a cushion from a blanket
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...from-a-blanket

    Gassho, J
    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  38. #38
    Hi Victor

    Instead of a zabuton, see if you can use a thick blanket or a quilt. When I go to visit my in-laws I take my zafu but use one of their think knitted blankets folded as a zabuton


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Yes, but a couch cushion or folded blanket may be too soft without some support.

    We had this wonderful tip awhile back on firming up those blankets (thank you, Kotei) ...

    how to fold a cushion from a blanket
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...from-a-blanket

    Gassho, J
    STLah
    Thank you for sharing this, Jundo!

    Gassho, V

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Tairin View Post
    Hi Victor

    Instead of a zabuton, see if you can use a thick blanket or a quilt. When I go to visit my in-laws I take my zafu but use one of their think knitted blankets folded as a zabuton


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    Thank you for this idea! I've used blankets before but we don't really own thick quilt style blankets.

    Gassho

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Timchenko_Oleg View Post
    I have a zafu 25 cm tall with buckwheat husks, my height is 182 cm, weight 79 kg and everything is fine

    Gassho,
    Oleg
    Sat today, Lend a Hand
    Hi Oleg, Victor and everyone,
    I'm not so tall as you two. I'm 168 cm and weight 95 Kg. My zafu is only 8 cm tall. I do think it is small.
    Does anyone know the recommended measures for a zafu so that a person with my heigh and weight can sit more confortably in it?

    Gassho,
    Mateus
    Sat today/LAH

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by mateus.baldin View Post
    Hi Oleg, Victor and everyone,
    I'm not so tall as you two. I'm 168 cm and weight 95 Kg. My zafu is only 8 cm tall. I do think it is small.
    Does anyone know the recommended measures for a zafu so that a person with my heigh and weight can sit more confortably in it?

    Gassho,
    Mateus
    Sat today/LAH
    As far as I know, traditional zafu have a height of 18 cm, and in general the height is selected individually

    Gassho,
    Oleg
    Sat today, Lend a Hand
    [Gassholook]:Будда:: TL:

  43. #43
    As far as I understand, then raise the height of the zafu gradually until a natural backbend appears, and then this is your height

    Gassho,
    Oleg
    Sat today, Lend a Hand
    [Gassholook]:Будда:: TL:

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by mateus.baldin View Post
    Hi Oleg, Victor and everyone,
    I'm not so tall as you two. I'm 168 cm and weight 95 Kg. My zafu is only 8 cm tall. I do think it is small.
    Does anyone know the recommended measures for a zafu so that a person with my heigh and weight can sit more confortably in it?

    Gassho,
    Mateus
    Sat today/LAH
    Start the experiment with a zafu height from 15 cm, try to sit down and feel comfortable for you, that is, if there is a natural deflection in the lower back, if it does not appear, then increase or decrease the height until you find the optimum height for the zafu You have a natural deflection in the fifth vertebra in the lumbar region, experiment

    Gassho,
    Oleg
    Sat today, Lend a Hand
    [Gassholook]:Будда:: TL:

  45. #45
    Thank you, Oleg, for your kind suggestions.
    Gassho,
    Mateus
    Sat/LAH

  46. #46
    Hi All,

    so much great advice! Another seating option is the V-shaped cushion, like this:

    https://www.yogaoutlet.com/p/hugger-...RoCe5oQAvD_BwE

    As you can see it's thicker in back and thinner in front, to encourage the proper pelvic tilt and eliminate the front edge of the zafu putting any pressure on the back of the thighs. You can adjust the level of filling to your preference. It looks funny but I have one and I like it. Happy sitting!

    Gassho
    Byōkan
    sat + lah
    Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Byokan View Post
    Hi All,

    so much great advice! Another seating option is the V-shaped cushion, like this:

    https://www.yogaoutlet.com/p/hugger-...RoCe5oQAvD_BwE

    As you can see it's thicker in back and thinner in front, to encourage the proper pelvic tilt and eliminate the front edge of the zafu putting any pressure on the back of the thighs. You can adjust the level of filling to your preference. It looks funny but I have one and I like it. Happy sitting!

    Gassho
    Byōkan
    sat + lah
    Thank you for sharing this option! It's definitely something to keep in mind!

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
    "Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train"-Ueshiba Morihei

  48. #48
    I don't think that "one size fits all" on the Zafu.

    Everybody ... every body ... is different. It really is just something to sit on comfortably, with some support, balance and stability, and then forget about.

    I do want to recommend this book again to all our sitters, especially folks struggling with posture a bit. Also some Zen folks can be quite obsessive about getting the posture "right," I am more fluid in my views toward posture, much as this book discusses.

    Book Recommendation: - THE POSTURE OF MEDITATION
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...-OF-MEDITATION

    Most Zafu, in my experience, are between 5 - 8 inches (150-250 cm) off the floor which should be perfectly fine for individuals of almost any height. Bigger people usually benefit from a bigger cushion, and small people from a small cushion. It is best not to be too high because you’ll be sitting at a forward angle most of the time and your knees should be able to touch the floor.

    This is one reason you may wish to get a buckwheat cushion (or make one!) and experiment with the quantity of stuffing inside. Same with a seiza bench (which, by the way, is also pretty cheap and easy to make with minimum woodworking skills, and a quick trip to the home improvement store.) Then, you can experiment with raising or lowering a bit until it "feels okay."

    However, most important is not to obsess and fetishize the cushion, and getting it "just right."

    Frankly, there is a tendency in some corners of Japanese Zen to obsess about getting the posture "just right." This is a concern not generally found in other flavors of Buddhism and meditation in other cultures in Asia. To make a long story short, throughout Japanese culture (not only in Zen) there is a lovely fixation with "proper" form. It is wonderful, and leads to everything from baseball to tea ceremony that is very beautiful. However, it also can lead to certain powers and unsupported (pun intended) physiological attributes being attributed to precise posture, e.g., that it results in certain mysterious Ki and like energy flows in the body. Baloney.

    Middle way here: There are balanced ways to sit which are comfortable and do not cause pain, and unbalanced ways to sit which are uncomfortable and cause pain. Every body is different, find the comfortable way for you then ...



    Find a comfortable, stable and balanced way to sit that lets you sit for long periods. Realize that it may need a "tweek" now and then during the sitting period as the body settles ... then forget about it, and just sit. There is no more a "proper" form for sitting than a "proper" form for riding a bicycle on a Sunday afternoon. If it feels right and comfortable, it is.

    Here is Taigu's always very wise and common sense advice on using and purchasing a Zafu ...



    Gassho, jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post


    h
    I love that sign, itís on the Belt Parkway near where I grew up :-) Thereís one that says ďOy VeyĒ too!!!

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH

  50. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I don't think that "one size fits all" on the Zafu.

    Everybody ... every body ... is different. It really is just something to sit on comfortably, with some support, balance and stability, and then forget about.

    I do want to recommend this book again to all our sitters, especially folks struggling with posture a bit. Also some Zen folks can be quite obsessive about getting the posture "right," I am more fluid in my views toward posture, much as this book discusses.

    Book Recommendation: - THE POSTURE OF MEDITATION
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...-OF-MEDITATION

    Most Zafu, in my experience, are between 5 - 8 inches (150-250 cm) off the floor which should be perfectly fine for individuals of almost any height. Bigger people usually benefit from a bigger cushion, and small people from a small cushion. It is best not to be too high because youíll be sitting at a forward angle most of the time and your knees should be able to touch the floor.

    This is one reason you may wish to get a buckwheat cushion (or make one!) and experiment with the quantity of stuffing inside. Same with a seiza bench (which, by the way, is also pretty cheap and easy to make with minimum woodworking skills, and a quick trip to the home improvement store.) Then, you can experiment with raising or lowering a bit until it "feels okay."

    However, most important is not to obsess and fetishize the cushion, and getting it "just right."

    Frankly, there is a tendency in some corners of Japanese Zen to obsess about getting the posture "just right." This is a concern not generally found in other flavors of Buddhism and meditation in other cultures in Asia. To make a long story short, throughout Japanese culture (not only in Zen) there is a lovely fixation with "proper" form. It is wonderful, and leads to everything from baseball to tea ceremony that is very beautiful. However, it also can lead to certain powers and unsupported (pun intended) physiological attributes being attributed to precise posture, e.g., that it results in certain mysterious Ki and like energy flows in the body. Baloney.

    Middle way here: There are balanced ways to sit which are comfortable and do not cause pain, and unbalanced ways to sit which are uncomfortable and cause pain. Every body is different, find the comfortable way for you then ...



    Find a comfortable, stable and balanced way to sit that lets you sit for long periods. Realize that it may need a "tweek" now and then during the sitting period as the body settles ... then forget about it, and just sit. There is no more a "proper" form for sitting than a "proper" form for riding a bicycle on a Sunday afternoon. If it feels right and comfortable, it is.

    Here is Taigu's always very wise and common sense advice on using and purchasing a Zafu ...



    Gassho, jundo

    STLah
    Thank you very much, Jundo


    Gassho,
    Oleg
    Sat today, Lend a Hand
    [Gassholook]:Будда:: TL:

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