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I have never been able to sit on my heels. Ever. I've been a ballet dancer, a practitioner of kendo and yoga, and I've never been able to sit on my heels. Even at my most flexible. Now I am young and female, so the answer does not lie that way. Better yet, I've found what appears to be a solution, I just want to know if anyone has tried something similar and how often. Other options are also welcome!

 

 

Ah: this old one (a very common problem for Westerners). When I first went to Japan, I could not site on my heels at all (and that made mealtimes hell: I was living in a traditional environment, and all eating was done in seiza, which means sitting with your legs tucked under you, like virasana).


Usually, there are two restrictions: the inability to sufficiently plantar flex the foot (so you feel a strain in the ankles, and/or the front of the lower leg) or an inability to flex completely at the knee (and you feel a strain in either the knee or the lower part of quadriceps). A perhaps surprising solution to the knee/quad sensation is to stretch the calf muscles, because if they cannot "flow" out of the way, the knee is in a sense being forced apart (hamstrings and calves resisting your body's weight). Likewise the hamstrings, but if you are a Yoga student, let's assume that these are relatively soft.

If the restriction is in the ankles, then you need to place a blanket of mat under your legs, from in front of the knees to just below the ankle joint before you sit: this way, the foot will not have to point as far. Adjust the thickness so you still have a stretch, but a tolerable one.

If in the knees/quads, then you put a cushion between your bottom and the back of your legs—again, adjust the thickness so there is still a bit of a stretch there, but not so much that you cannot relax.

Then simply sit there, letting the body relax as much as possible. As the ankles become more comfortable, reduce the thickness of the blanket; as the knees/quads become more comfortable, have less of the cushion under you. I guarantee this works; after doing this for six months in Japan, I could sit in between my feet on the floor with no support, and easily, and still can (it is easy to maintain a particular flexibility once you have it). 

The solution is all about letting the fascia of both the ankles and the quadriceps slowly remodel. Even muscle is 50% by weight fascia, and the sensations people feel in the knees are because that movement levers off this joint—any muscle/fascia tightness, and the joint cannot close without this reaction force—the knee is trying to close, but the tissue in between will not move out of the way, so part of your weight is resolved as 'knee joint being pressed apart'. This can be very uncomfortable.

As well, once you can more-or-less easily sit on your legs, have a look at the RollStretch YouTube clips; there are two quad stretches there, and the other one I want to mention to you, which uses a stick in between the thighs and the calves in this position to soften the calf muscles; 

:

Anyway, I hope this all helps; let us know, Cheers, kl
 

 

Shril

 

p.s. I can touch my toes, Penny. Just not my sit bones to my heels.

 

 

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SO MANY VIEWS. No responses. I figured it was the wall of text so I'm going to upload some videos and pictures to help explain things. 

 

So I can't do this. To make it even easier: 

 

Seiza_01.gif

 

My bottom doesn't make it all the way to my heels. Now I've read that might be a flexibility issue. Either at my ankle, knee, hamstrings or all of the above. The above suggests I put a pillow/ thick comforter under my shins:

 

TP_shins_2.jpg

(though thicker than this and longer--from my knees to my ankles)

 

Or under my bottom:

 

yoga0021.jpg

 

or both. I'm trying to do both. What I'd like to know is if this sounds right to anyone who has struggled with this. How often should I stretch this way? Has anyone overcome this problem before?

 

Hope the pictures help!

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Looks good. What I do is to just try and sit in that position more often. So if I am reading a book, or watching TV, instead of sitting on a chair I will sit in that position or in the mobility squat position. Maybe make a goal of sitting like that for 30 minutes a day, spread through out the day?

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Something I should start working on again. I will need it in February.

 

Since I am very inflexibel and can't touch my toes, I have an adjustable bench.

I sat for up to 30 minutes every day and made the bench lower every some weeks.

Then I removed cushions under my ankles.

 

Then I stopped and now I have to start again.

 

Work on it regularly and constantly!

A few times a day is ok. One long session is ok, too.

Just remember to improve time or height(less cushions or aids) every time ;)

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