INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Tabla Forum: sitting crosslegged - the pain!


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sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 24, 2002 09:48 p.m.

hey there. I'm a new tabla student, and I'm have a very hard time sitting crosslegged. I've been trying to get used to it, mostly by listening to raags and sitting in a crosslegged position for the duration of that raag. Right now, 20 minutes is the longest I can go and even that is extremely difficult and painful for me. I'm hoping that other people had similar problems when they started. If I'm not alone, what can I do to make this easier? Should I try something like yoga or stretches? Should I quit being such a baby and get used to it? the one thing I'm worried about is long-term damage to my joints, which I've heard is possible. thanks for your help.
Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 25, 2002 03:29 a.m.

Hello Neruda,

Being a yoga teacher I know a bit about cross-legged sitting and this problem. Every beginner in this sitting has the same problem, we Westerners unfortunately are too much accustomed sitting on chairs which, I can assure you is much more damaging for the body than sitting cross-legged. There is only one way to make it sit in this position as much as you can. It is always suggested to put a folded blanket or a pillow under your buttocks, which gives a relief to the spinal column. Anyway, 20 minutes is already a good time! There is also a special excercise to make the hip joints more flexible, it is called the "butterfly". You must sit down on the floor, bend both legs, join your soles together, grab your feet with both hands, and move your knees up and down as if they were wings, and as if you were a colourful butterfly. This is specially designed to make cross-legged sitting easier. I can assure you though of two thing:1) cross-legged sitting will never cause long-term damage unless you force yourself too much into it 2) once you got accustomed to sit cross-legged, to sit on a chair for a longer time becomes just as a suffering as sitting cross-legged now...:o))

I think I've read once on this board, that the tablas can be put on a table and you can play them standing on sitting on a chair. Ask you fellow tablayas.

Best Wishes

Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 25, 2002 05:40 a.m.

The tabla players (in the past) that played light music didn't sit if I remember correctly. While playing classical music players sit. Few years ago I saw a picture from Mickey Hart and the planet drum tour. Zakir Hussain played standing tablas, because he was playing other percussion too. If you are playing classical it's a custom, but otherwise it depends on a situation and instruments you're covering besides tabla. I hope that helped...
Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 25, 2002 04:37 p.m.

Sita (Jan 25, 2002 03:29 a.m.):
2) once you got accustomed to sit cross-legged, to sit on a chair for a longer time becomes just as a suffering as sitting cross-legged now...:o))

Oh no!!!

thank you very much for your response (Jake as well). I'm trying to do stretches right now, and I'll incorporate the butterfly in more often (I was doing it to begin with, but not often). It's good to know that it isn't damaging as I had previously thought. I will try not to force it on myself too much, however. Now I just have to work on my bols...

Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 25, 2002 07:02 p.m.

theres a few positions beside crosslegged but I think it is the best for playing with control over the drums. I know what you mean about sitting in chairs being uncomfortable now after being on the ground so much. everything in my room is on the floor.
Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 25, 2002 09:01 p.m.

I'm not going to learn any other way than crosslegged. I have to learn to play these the right way.
Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 26, 2002 04:16 p.m.

Just thought I'd give a sitar player perspective too! My right leg falls asleep sometimes but the majority of the time the culprit is my wallet in the back pocket of my jeans so maybe the same thing is happening for you as well??
Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 26, 2002 11:44 p.m.

Hi, who are you? are you the reinarnation of don Pablo Neruda? jejeje
Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 27, 2002 02:15 a.m.

haha! no, just a very devoted fan of his work

lars, that's not the problem for me. Whenever I'm sitting crosslegged I wear sweatpants with no back pocket, so I couldn't keep a wallet back there even if i wanted to. But even if I could, I wouldnt, because I don't need anything making this even remotely harder than it already is :D.

man, my legs are really protesting today. maybe I'll give myself a day's respite from the standard 20 minutes of torture.

Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 27, 2002 08:21 a.m.

Another minor suggestion - I am also a new tabla student and having the same problem - my teacher suggested I try sitting with my back against a wall while practising, and it does help a lot I find.

Rest assured - you're not the only one with this problem!

Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 27, 2002 09:35 a.m.

Hi Neruda !!! .... Further to SITA Devi's comments re. soreness and stiffness from traditional Indian sitting .... Remember much of India's music is DEVOTIONAL and associated with TEMPLES/ GURDWARAS which uphold the Vegetarian tradition ... It has been established by Diet/ nutritional anthropology and similar research that LESS processed/ more RAW vegetarian type food leads to greater bodily (and Spiritual) suppleness and elasticity .... Inversely more meat and processed food leads to greater incidence of stiffness, soreness, arthritis, gout, and rheumatism (and Spiritual ridgidity) .... Some people experience DRAMATIC diet-related change in as little as 10-14 days .... Should I say Assalamu Aleikam
Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 27, 2002 01:39 p.m.

thanks for the tip abhinav. actually, I sort of figured that out on my own! It definitely helps.
Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 27, 2002 05:51 p.m.

About 4 yrs ago I had a disk in my back removed, thus sitting cross legged is out of the question. so if you can't pull out of tradition,& be able to play whats more comfortable , then I think that we must toss the indian instruments and go back to guitar & drums
Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 27, 2002 10:53 p.m.

I certianly hope I don't give up; I'd hate it if I couldn't play this instrument (properly).

right now I'm in a bit of a funk, because a visiting dog just licked my dayan and now it sounds funny. Of topic I know, but I still thought I'd post it. Now my gat's all smeared and I'm gunna have to clean that too. How could that possibly taste good?? A normal dog would have gone for the hide!

Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 28, 2002 03:47 a.m.

Hi Neruda,

As you can see you've managed to touch a topic in which many players are concerned. I've read all the replies and I can only agree with everyone. The most important thing is that you find a comfortable position and thus practice becomes something that you look forward to and not a "torture" as you write. However, I found Hanuman's comment especially intelligent. Without seeming to be willing to convert you to become a "grass-eater", you must consider the fact that excess meat-eating adds considerably to the stiffness of the body.

I have a mrdanga (bengali khol) at home, and whenever I unwrap it to practice my dog is going crazy thinking that there's a tasty bone somewhere around...:o)

Best Wishes

Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 28, 2002 04:25 p.m.

Neruda, I'm sorry but I just had to laugh after reading a dog licked your dayan and now it sounds funny. That's just too weird not to chuckle! But it did taste funny. My cat was always fascinated with my sitar, but I don't think she ever tried to taste it.
Hannuman and Sita, hi. I'm not sure if being a vegetarian helps or not. I have not eaten of any meat in three years, and I have the same stiff legs and back problems Neruda has. Might be age and not staying in shape in my case. I think your idea of stretching exercises or yoga is the best bet, plus keeping weight under control.
Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 28, 2002 05:50 p.m.

Yes not eating meat weakens your tendons, thus making them more stretchy, but old age effects you no matter what you eat. I found it quite hilarious also that a dog licked your dayan. My dog is to scared of the sounds from the tabla to get close enough to lick them. Im sure hed love to chew on some of the raw hide though.
Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 28, 2002 09:00 p.m.

HanumanBaba, u'r wrong, man. Do you think that is necesary to be a devote hindu for play tabla? what do you think about the great muslim musicians as Ustad Ahmedjan Thirakwa, Ustad Amir Hussain Khan, U. Wajid Hussain Khan, U. Shaafat Ahmed Khan, U. Sabir Khan, U. Keramatullah Khan, U. Alla Rakha, U. Inam Ali Khan, and a great christian tablaji as Sri Anthony Dass?
Assalamu Alaikun, brother.
Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Jan 29, 2002 12:04 p.m.

well Amir, he never actually said that. All he did was point out that a vegetarian diet could help with sitting crosslegged. He didn't say that being a devote hindu was the only way you could be a good Indian musician...

well guys, the good news is that my dayan sounds fine now. But I'm still going to have to sand off the smeared part. Stupid mutt...

anyway, I probably just need to work on my flexability more than anything else. I've been doing more stretches and I think it's starting to help. thanks again!

Re:Pandit Kishen Mahraj sitting position! Apr 16, 2002 04:36 a.m.

Hi I went to see Pandit Kishen Maharaj last week playing with Ustad Vilayat Khan in Manchester England, he was truly marvellous and the audience really loved him.

Just to point out he did not sit as other tabla players do but kind of sat on his knees. Can any body shed any light on this sitting position. Would this be more easier or difficult??

Aaron Murray
Re:sitting crosslegged - the pain! Apr 15, 2002 02:46 p.m.

I have found that sitting in a "half lotus" position helps me with the pain. Instead of crossing your legs, lay one leg on top of the other, if you know what I mean. When seated your legs will be parallel with one below and one above. When using this position I feel less pain and my legs and feet fall asleep less often as well. Hope this helps.


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