INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: Sitting Positions ?


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Sitting Positions ? Sep 03, 2002 12:38 a.m.

Hey there, I'm just curious about the sitting positions you fellow sitar nuts use? Do you use the traditional half lotus,a chair the girl position "ewww" or whatever? Right now I practice sittin on the couch with the gourd sitting on the cusion to the right of me. I will eventually use the lotus but it really kills me. I want to use the lotus all the time but I'm a wimp and I have to ease into it like an old man easing into a warm bath, if you get my drift.
Jeffrey R King
Re:Sitting Positions ? Sep 03, 2002 06:38 a.m.

Yes, this is a painful subject. I started on the couch and stayed there for about a week before moving to the floor. Even if you can only stand it for ten minutes, do it. Then get up and walk it off and get back down there. gradually you will be able to spend more time down there and within a year will be able to stay an hour or more (younger folks that haven't had shattered vertibrae might be able to stay down there much longer). The important thing ablut this is that it positions the instrument to where you can work out on the lower end of the fret board without twisting your wrist too much. Look at where a surbahar player has to position the toomba in order to reach the low end. The further back your foot will reach the easier it will be to play on the low end. And it has had a positive effect on my back. Just do it!
Re:Sitting Positions ? Sep 03, 2002 12:17 p.m.

Hi Jeff;
Sitting was the first "hurdle" to overcome for most of us I think. Instead of sitting at home on the couch or chairs as usual, get into a habit of sitting on the floor in the komal assam (half lotus)as often as possible so you get used to it. For comfort, you can sit on a thick piece of rug/carpet, or some people use a thick pillow, but that one is not so good for the back. If you have time, learn some basic yoga. It helps condition and stretch your legs, hip joints and back. Like Stephen (and Nike) says, just do it!
Re:Sitting Positions ? Sep 03, 2002 06:32 p.m.

Ive converted my whole life to the floor, Now Chairs I cant stand for 15 minutes or more
Schooll is killer on the back.
Re:Sitting Positions ? Sep 03, 2002 07:02 p.m.

I use a strap and play standing up so I can look at myself in the mirror......
Ok.......half lotus, you'll get used to it.....sometimes my leg falls asleep though!


Big L
Re:Sitting Positions ? Mar 10, 2003 01:02 p.m.

dang it- I've been playing for 3 years now and to this day every time I play for more than 15 minutes my right leg falls dead asleep- to the point where I have to wait 5 minutes for the blood to return before I can walk!
Re:Sitting Positions ? Mar 10, 2003 02:40 p.m.

Right leg? With me its my left foot. Tends to go to sleep or even spasm now and then, as my weight(and sitar)is resting on it. Maybe try using the "relaxed" lotus for your right leg. Just simply don't cross it over the left leg. Keep it relaxed and on the floor.
Re:Sitting Positions ? Mar 10, 2003 02:57 p.m.

LOL!!! Hey Big L, I have the same problem. At first I thought it was because I�ve got a skinny butt. Now I�m convinced that people of Indian descent have some extra blood vessels we westerners don't know about. Last year I saw Anoushka in concert, at the end of the show one of her tanpura players (westerner) fell off the stage when she tried to get up. Her legs had completely fallen asleep. Last Friday, I saw Kartik Seshadri in concert at a local college. At the end of the show, the tanpura player (westerner) could barely make it to his feet.
Re:Sitting Positions ? Mar 10, 2003 03:39 p.m.

I do the exact same.On the couch with the main gourd on the cushion to my right. I know it is not accepted in traditional ICM but I find I play ALOT more when I leave the Sitar seated next to me, plop myself down on the couch and play away. I find that I can play the lower fret board just fine and am in proper hand postion etc. I am Happy. I want to enjoy the process, I have no desire to become a professional sitar player and this way I can assure that won't happen.HaHa. Maybe play Harvard Square next summer for some coin! Oh, Sh-t, but then I'll have to bring my couch? I did by a plush 4 X 6 piece of carpet to induce me to the floor, and I do use it! but 80% of the time I am on the couch ( a firm leather one-can't be too soft) Sometimes, and this may not go over too well, I'll sit there with the mute button on my TV and spend hours practicing basic scales, meends.

Right now I practice sittin on the couch with the gourd sitting on the cushion to the right of me.

Re:Sitting Positions ? Mar 10, 2003 05:08 p.m.

I use half lotus and yes my feet always fall asleep. I'm in the process of changing my practiceregimen. I use to pratice 2x30 minutes, but changed to 2x45 minutes (no pauses or breaks), just to get used to it. My lessons last 1 1/2 hour and really have to do stretching exercises halfway the lessons. My teacher advised me to use one of those (whoopee-like)cushions: they are made by a company called Sissel, perhaps they have a branch in the US. It's a rubber cushion: when you sit on it it feels very wobbly, but the idea behind it is that you (subconciously) balance to the right position, it felt really weird at first, but after some time it made sense.



Re:Sitting Positions ? Mar 10, 2003 07:28 p.m.

Ha ha ha....ouch!
Thanks for making my day Remco. Just couldn't stop laughing, picturing some pandit sitting down on a whoppie cushion in a quite recital hall to play some serious sitar. Once the audience caught their breath after rolling in the aisles, I rather imagine a change in venue is in order............!
Re:Sitting Positions ? Mar 11, 2003 09:39 p.m.

Man- All I can say about the lotus sitting position....OUCH! I'm 16 and should be more limber but man my left leg can only stand about 4-5 minutes in that position. I just go with the female sitting position,resting the gourd on the carpet or couch next to me. It just feels better.


Re:Sitting Positions ? Mar 12, 2003 03:42 a.m.

Hi, sitar friends,

I'm a westerner too and indeed my right leg falls asleep within � hour or so . I don't think it is related to the blood system though. Cause if it was so, then the sleeping parts would turn kind of blue, isn't-it? Just as if you squeeze bewteen your thumb and index a finger of the other hand. Within a few seconds, a change in color is noticable which is produced by the used blood stagnating there by not returning to the heart & lungs to get cleaned up.

I think the body parts falling asleep experience is more related to the nervous system. The major nerves, being pressurized by an unusual bending, are less and less transmitting the electric signals to/from the brain, creating this way the impression of a total lost of contact with those body parts .

It's always amusing to get wake up by the phone while your both arms are totaly num and just hanging there.. can't even pick the receiver.. had to throw it with a foot and bend down the head to anwser and than guess what? The other person just hanged up..

Seriously , about the sitting position, couch or floor, I've been recommanded to use a mirror to spot immidiatly any deviation from not sitting strait. To never tolerate bending sideway towards the main gourd or the more subtil deviation: sliding off sideway.. I did have to stop playing for quite some time to correct some missalignment of the spine which was causing some digesting and other problems .

So I came up with this following trick to avoid falling back into those deviation build-up problems. It is based upon the use of a �conter movement� or a �conter position� in this case. In other words, to do the opposit movement or position.

After I'm done playing (right hand position), I take a left hand position, the sitar with the tarab's pegs upsite down and hold it this way for some time . I take this �cooling down� opportunity to whipe off the strings, to re-align the frets or the treads holding them, to do some rotations of the now free right arm or even meditate a bit.. all that while holding the sitar with the left forearm. During that period, I can feel in my back the release of some tension that was building up unequally from both sides of the spine.. and it's feels so good to make it even .

And that gives the require time to the leg to wake up (to the leg).

Re:Sitting Positions ? Mar 12, 2003 12:13 p.m.

Like you say, we all start to lean after awhile. All I do is stop and bend forward to touch my chin on the floor, still in the half lotus. This stretches the spine quite well and releases all tension. If the legs are asleep, then stop, get up and wake them up. You don't want anything turning blue!!! Careful you don't fall down though as walking will be difficult (and hurts too).
Re:Sitting Positions ? Mar 27, 2003 08:59 a.m.

Hi I am a newbee,

I have been playing the sitar for just 5 days now! I have been very interested to read about the sitting problems and was shocked to here that even seasoned players still seem to suffer.

I have suffered from pins and needles and dead legs each day that I have practiced, but assumed that this would simply go away with time. At the moment I am sitting at my PC with one slightly numb bum cheek as well.

Inspite of the fact that noone seems to have a solution to this other than not to use the half lotus, I was wondering about using some Yoga to try and improve the bits that get squashed and bent? Has anyone else tried this?

Also I was wondering about the floor and someone mentioned a cushion, if there is no pressure on that area maybe blood flow and nerve trapping might be better? Is it worth investigating?



Re:Sitting Positions ? Sep 01, 2003 05:58 p.m.

Try doing some yoga!
just 5 minutes in the morning is a lot more than nothing at all.
If it hurts, than just go easy. You dont have to stand on your head or put your legs behind your head.
get some basic stretching of the net og find a nice book at the public library. The body is much nicer to play with when its prepared and capable to do the moves you want.

Listen to some ICM and stretch a little : )

Its allso nice to sit on the floor, you dont have to do it all day, just get down there and ground yourself (so to say).

I spend a lot of time on the floor, i find it comfy and good for my back... Support yourself with something soft, a nice blanket, a pillow, whatever makes it feel good.

I allso spend a lot of time sitting like this. I had to add a link i dint know what you call this way of unsuported sitting.

Its god for the feet to get used to the bended knee that a half lotus requires.

(the link is just out of the blue, just something i googeled...)


Re:Sitting Positions ? Sep 01, 2003 06:44 p.m.

You guys have it much easier, I play rudra veena so I have to adopt the full lotus posture, and it is not a very pleasent feeling at first, but eventually you (kind of) get used to it. I remember when I played sitar, if I raised my right knee up a bit like Vilayat Khan does, I didn't have any circulation problems, well not as There must be some trick, for one thing, I have noticed sitarist at the end of the concert will stand for a moment to recieve the applause, perhaps they are just standing to get the feeling back in their legs..... Well if all else fails, you can adopt the so called "female" position on which the sitar completely rests on the ground and both of your legs twist to the left. I didn't care for it because the sitar seemed to low and I like to have my arm resting on the tumba.
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
Re:Sitting Positions ? Sep 02, 2003 01:57 p.m.

There's really nothing wrong with the "female" position. Its just not a traditional position for a male. Actually if done correctly (move the center of balance to the spine)its quite comfortable. But then I have noticed that a lot of female sitarjis have begun to sit in the half lotus nowdays. Just as long as their "skirt" (don't know proper name)is large or long enough for modesty's sake.
Re:Sitting Positions ? Sep 02, 2003 02:26 p.m.

Awwwww, forget modesty, will ya!

Jeffrey R King
Re:Sitting Positions ? Sep 02, 2003 03:15 p.m.

Hey, I will if she will!
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