Foot/Leg Numbness During Sitting Meditation

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Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2009 8:05 am
Location: Eugene, Oregon

Foot/Leg Numbness During Sitting Meditation

Post by acorn484 »

Hi Bernie, After about 10 or 15 minutes of seated meditation, my front foot and leg (I sit in Burmese posture) begin to fall asleep. The numbness starts in my foot and then works its way up my front leg and lasts the rest of the meditation. It's not that uncomfortable during the meditation, but when I get up I have a bothersome tingling feeling in that foot and leg for about a minute or two. Other than that it is a fairly comfortable posture to sit in compared to others I've tried (i.e. Virasana, Sukhasana).

I'm wondering if this could be harmful or cause permanent damage to my foot or leg, or if it's just a harmless sensation I don't need to worry about.

Thanks, Vincent

P.S. - Thanks so much for your reply to my last post, it was very helpful and informative!
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Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver


Post by Bernie »

Hi Vincent

Your experience is not unusual. Many meditators, even experienced ones, have parts of their anatomy fall asleep on them. This is usually caused by pressure on the legs cutting off some of the blood flow to the lower extremities. This is the cause of the "pins & needles" feeling, when sensation returns. (If you were damaging the nerves, you would feel more sharp sensations or longer lasting dully achy feelings...those are not good.)

While uncomfortable, it is not dangerous: not for the length of time you are sitting. Generally, we don't sit in meditation longer than 45 minutes at a time, or up to maybe 1 hour. That should not be long enough for gangrene to set in. :)

Many people find that as their practice progresses, these feelings go away. To help, you may want to make sure you alternate your sitting posture: one time have the right foot in front, then the next time have the left one in front. Some days, do sit on a bench in a seiza style (it is like virasana but with the hips higher up, there is less stress in the knees.)

Another possible solution is to prepare for sitting by including in your yin practice a lot of poses such as Butterfly, Straddle and Saddle.

Whenever you end your sitting, take time to massage the legs and circle the ankles before you get up to walk.


ps - never accept burning in the knees! This is a sign that you are damaging the joint. Find another posture if this is happening.
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