The science behind sitting cross legged

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Indian Culture / Wisdom For Seekers


Questioner: This question is from Claire, here at III. "Namaskaram Sadhguru, why do we not place our feet towards lingas or other consecrated objects, or even people for that matter? Is it simply a matter of respect, or is there a scientific basis to this?


Duration: 14 min


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9 min read

The science behind sitting cross legged

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Questioner: This question is from Claire, here at III. “Namaskaram Sadhguru, why do we not place our feet towards lingas or other consecrated objects, or even people for that matter? Is it simply a matter of respect, or is there a scientific basis to this?

Sadhguru: Well, why if there is an energetic situation, you always are asked to cross your legs, no to stretch your legs in the direction. Well, this respect thing is a more newer expression of that.

Essentially because, you can receive anything that comes towards you in many different ways. The yogic intention always is, to receive it from the higher aspects of your life. You know there is anahata, which is the meeting of two triangles. Below that is manipuraka, swadisthana, and muladhara, which are all chakras representing different aspects of survival process. Survival, basic survival, reproductive process, maintenance process – all survival related.

Here it comes [pointing to anahata], and there are two triangles intersecting each other. Because, this is ultimate ecstacy [pointing to sahsrar], this is realisation [agna], this is power [pointing to vishudhi], this is love [pointing to anahata], and these sections, these triangles intersecting. When there is a consecrated space, what it means is, there is a powerful energy which has the possibility of transforming you. That energy must come to you always from the highest possibility that you can receive. You can receive from your sahasrar, it would be too fantastic. That is the reason, the moment any Indian person goes into temple, first thing is [they bend down], they want to expose this. They keep it [sahsrar] wet. In a proper temple they’re told, even in the Dhyanalinga temple people go, wet themselves. A wet head – because they’re hoping this energy will enter here [sahsrar].

You don’t want to sit with your legs open like this in front of a consecrated space, because that will attract a totally different kind of energy towards you

It didn’t work, so [do namaskar], hoping here [agna]. Didn’t work, then they will take [apply vibhuti on throat], hoping this will work [vishudhi]. Nothing worked, then they will say this [apply vibhuti to anahata]. But they don’t want to go here [lower chakras]. Because these are survival processes. We don’t want to enhance them. We want to enhance other dimensions of life, which will enhance our life. Because if you survive better – if you survive, it’s good. It’s very essential we survive. But, surviving better than somebody is not a life goal. It’s a waste of time, because whatever you do, you’re not going to survive forever.

Whatever you may do, even minus the pandemic, you will not. survive forever. So, there is no need to invest too much in the direction of survival. So because of this, the whole culture – understanding this dimension, they created the societies in a certain way. Well, today what you find is a whole distorted version of that. But fundamentally it is still there, that when you go to any consecrated space you are like this [folded hands bending down]. Because you want it to enter here [sahsrar]. You want to become blissful, ecstatic. Doesn’t work, [pointing between eyebrows] at least peacefulness and realisation, [pointing to Vishudhi] balance and free from all kinds of poisons that are there in the world – should not enter you.

So essentially you want the upper part of your body – above anahata – to be exposed to this. You don’t want to sit with your legs open like this in front of a consecrated space, because that will attract a totally different kind of energy towards you. And that will work for you in a completely different way, which is not necessarily beneficial to you. It could be detrimental to you in many different ways. That’s the reason, when you sit in any space where you think there is power, there is energy, you always cross your legs and sit. Because you want to close the lower part of the body.

If you do this [crossing arms], you know in some way, you are closed to people, isn’t it? Hello! Ladies, you know this. Suppose, somebody is talking to you – let’s say – a stranger has come, a man, talking to you. Will you talk to him [arms stretched out] like this? Hello! Some of them are doing it these days, because they think what is wrong? Nothing wrong – you will bring a certain different type of attention to yourself. Well, if the man is descent, he will do this [namaskar], if you are Indian. Otherwise you will say ‘hello’, and maybe shake his hand.

And, if he is acting little fresh, you’ll say [crossed arms], ‘hmm’… or no? Because you know, you may not know intellectually, but instinctively you know what kind of postures bring what kind of attention to you, isn’t it? Hello! Whatever culture you have grown up in, instinctively you always know, because it happens in the body. It’s not that we make up in the mind. Certain things happen in the body. So, certain cultures have very consciously evolved these postures – that if you want to do this, this is how you must sit. It’s very very important.

If you stand and eat, there are many negativities to this

Even food, I’m telling you. If you sit in front of food – one advantage you have is, there is a table between you and the lower parts of your body. But, if you sit with food, but with legs open – like many people are standing and eating. If you stand and eat, there are many negativities to this. You must understand, the longing for food is not just in your mouth. Entire body is longing for it, entire body. Well, people will say -oh, there is nothing scientific about it. Is my navel longing for food, is my genitals longing for food! Yes – it is. You may not understand, every part of the body is longing for food. But it must go through this route, isn’t it? Hello!

Similarly there are other kinds of longings in our body. They must go through the right route. Then only life works out in a certain way. Otherwise you will distort life. So, keeping your legs crossed whenever you see a powerful form, is a very important thing. And, also food – food is a very powerful thing. Hello! If you’ve not eaten for 3 days, you understand it’s a very powerful thing, isn’t it? Hello! It is a very powerful thing. And, you will see if you have not eaten for 3-5 days, every cell in the body will long for food. Now, if you place food here [in front of you], it’s not just here [mouth] mouth waters, everything. So, it’s important that your legs are crossed, when food comes in front of you.

But you have found another way – shielding yourself with a table. Alright, if that is working for you. But, if you are having food, you are very hungry, and food is exposed to the entire body – this is not good for you. This goes for food, because we consider food as a very powerful instrument. Consecrated objects. And human beings who are of a certain power within themselves. You never open your legs and sit like this, in front of them. Because that will bring a wrong kind of energy into your system.

I’m asking you – is it good to shit? Hello, I’m asking you a question! Yes. But, it must come out of a certain part of your body. If it comes out from elsewhere, it will become terrible, isn’t it? Hello! Similarly, food should go in a certain way. Food going in is not only physical food going in, food goes into you in so many ways. Because the entire body is capable of this.

I must tell you my experience. Once, you know, like we had a major success in some business venture when I was doing this. So I was always exposed to nature wherever possible. I’ve been trekking, motorcycling, all this. But my partner is a nice city boy. So we decided that we will go to a place where there was a reservoir, like a dam. And there’s a big lake, and there are small, reasonable-sized hills. We went there, and we were all swimming. After swimming – I was still in my swimming trunks, I thought let me climb the hill. The summer month’s – pretty dry. So I went up the hill.

Now I’m… sometimes I wonder these days wherever I go, somebody’s carrying a bottle of water. At that time I rode through the day and night, I never had a water bottle with me. We just managed just like that. So I went up the hill. As I went in the summer heat, bare bodied, I was sweating heavily. But, you know, I have a problem of turning back halfway. So I want to go all the way up, and then come down. I went up, and as I was beginning to come down, I started feeling that I was suffocating with my tongue kind of bloating up. I was dehydrating so much that my tongue was becoming like a block in my breathing, and I really started struggling. I badly needed at least a few drops of water. I tried to lick my own sweat but it didn’t help.

When I thought I’m going to kind of literally lose my consciousness, like I’m going to faint. Then I just sat there with my eyes closed for some time. Then I realised my entire body – you know like, all the hair on my hands and legs are all going this way. It’s not like goosebumps. Goosebumps means, this will rise ‘this’ way, this will rise ‘this’ way. I just saw that all the hair pointing this way. And I just knew there’s water somewhere here, and I just went in search of it. I went into a small, beneath a rock outcrop, like a small cave. A cave not for a human being, maybe rabbits and rats and those kind of animals could go and stay there, that kind of cave. Just about that much. There was a small pool of water. Maybe it was a rabbit’s urine, or it was rain water. I don’t know what the hell it was, it didn’t matter. I just put my face into it and drank up the whole thing, including the mud and everything. I sat there for a while recovered from that and came down.

Why I’m saying this is, when you really need something, like food or water, you will see every cell in the body will long for it. If you pay attention, you will see thirst is not just in your mouth, it’s everywhere. So, the same goes not just for food, the same goes for other types of energy also. Every cell in the body longs for it. It’s very important, you receive it the right way. So, whenever you feel there is a powerful place, it is always best to cross your legs and sit down, if you are sitting there. Not sitting like this [legs open and spread out] – you will attract something that you don’t need.

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