From a pelvic floor perspective, when you sit on the tailbone (which I fully admit I do when I'm tucked up on the couch watching a movie), you're more likely to be tilting the pelvis backward and contracting the pelvic floor muscles. Sitting on the sit bones is more likely to tilt the pelvis forward (to its neutral position, really), angle the tailbone back slightly, and stretch the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Sukhasana / Easy Pose
See it and read about it on Yoga Journal.
I am a huge, huge fan of sitting on the front edge of a block, a bolster, or some folded blankets for support. Even if I don't strictly strictly "need" them to have my hips higher than my knees, if my intention is spinal support and pelvic relaxation, I find that additional elevation can enhance the posture for me:
- Arrange proper cushioning under your bum. This may involve sitting on a blanket, yoga block, bolster, or some other cushion. A good rule of thumb is to sufficient padding to elevate your hip points above your knees. If you feel strain or rounding in your low back, that may be a sign you need to prop yourself up higher.
- Scoot to the front edge of whatever you're sitting on -- not so far that you slide off, of course, but as far as you can up to that point.
- Check to make sure that you're sitting on your sit bones. I absolutely do this by grabbing the flesh of my bum and pulling it diagonally out of the way. Some people pull straight back, others more out to the side: what works best for you will depend on your individual butt.
- Cross your shins in front of you, letting your feet be a comfortable distance in front of you and your knees be a comfortable distance out to the side. If you are feeling pinching or torquing in your knees, that is probably a sign to modify. Find a comfortable place to rest your hands.
- Focus on relaxing your low body (pelvis, hips, thighs) while your spine lightly lifts up from the support created.
This first video, so you can see the pose in real time, does a good job of showing how to roll the fleshy part of the bum out of the way and how to use a block for support:
(Though some people find the demonstrated foot tucking or stacking comfortable, it's also totally fine to position the front foot on the ground in front of the opposite shin.)
This one illustrates sitting on a cushion and offers a way to support the knees if they're feeling any strain:
One assisted version, using a yoga strap to support the body:
Another assisted option is to sit so your bum is against a wall, placing a yoga block between the wall and your upper back -- just under the shoulder blades at bra band level -- to provide support for your upper back.
I'm sure there are a number of people reading this post and going, "frolicnaked, WTF. This is so easy. It's just... sitting." That's kind of the point and why this asana got its own post. I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of minutes in the day sitting. Which, realistically, means I have a lot of opportunities to practice some variation of this pose. As this post over at Blissful Body Yoga explains:
any where you sit, and whether you sit cross-legged, as in the posture sukhasana (easy pose), or with the feet on the floor as you sit in the chair, you still need to employ the same basic postural elements. The next time you are sitting in your chair at work come forward on the seat a bit so that your feet are flat on the floor and you can feel your sitz bones firmly against the seat. In the sitting position your sitz bones are your base, so press them firmly against the seat, as you would push your feet firmly against the floor. Notice how this immediately causes your torso to lengthen, your shoulders to drop and your neck to elongate. This will give you the same open line of energy from the base of your spine, through the crown of your head, and the same openness in the rib cage for breath to move, that we cultivate in all the sitting asanas.And, incidentally, it gives the same type of opening and relaxation to the pelvic floor.
So wherever you are sitting -- it's okay -- go ahead and grab your ass**.
** This is not professional advice. Neither frolicnaked nor vaginapagina assumes any responsibility for any weird looks people might give you for grabbing your butt, say, at work or in church. Please, assgrab at your own discretion.