Conquering my Pins during meditation

Prior to taking up the yoga teacher-training course, I have never gotten past the 30-minute mark when meditating. Four weeks into the ttc, I am pleased to say that I’ve managed to meditate past the 30-minute mark and even achieved past the one-hour mark! With my recent progression, I have come out with 1 trick to help deepen my meditation practice.
Conquer the Pins
Pins and needles are my biggest stumbling blocks in my meditation practice. I could not get over the 30-minute mark before as I could not overcome the burning/tingling sensation I get when recovering from a numbed leg.
Our leg has a few key nerve channels; of which the most problematic is the peroneal nerve channel. The peroneal nerve channel lies next to the tibia and fibula bones of the lower leg. When we seat cross-legged during meditation for a long time, pressure is constantly applied on the area where the peroneal nerve channel is. The pressure also called the pinch, blocks the flow of Potassium inside the nerve channel, resulting in the nerve to stop conducting and miscommunicates to the brain. This is when you first start to experience the numbness of your leg. The burning/tingling sensation happens only after you remove the pressure on the peroneal nerve channel, allowing the Potassium to flow, waking the nerves up, firing abnormally to create an intense discomfort. This sensation is what we all know it as the pins and needles sensation.
My meditation was always halted abruptly as I did not understand how to manage the pins and needles sensation in my earlier practice. Understanding how it works has helped me greatly. Previously, whenever I start to feel a tinge of numbness in my leg, usually between the 10-15 minute mark, I would make a slight shift in my posture to relieve the pressure point, which always leads me to a slippery slope; making me jerk out of my meditation due to the discomfort.
Learning how the pins and needles sensation are created has taught me that I should maintain my leg posture instead of moving them slightly. I now let myself sit through the numbness whilst concentrating on my pranayama. Instead of allowing the pins and needles to jerk me out of my meditation, I now control when this pins and needles sensation occurs. I go into meditation for as long as I can, and only when I plan to come out of meditation, I’ll start bracing myself with deep Ujjayi breathing to make the slight shift in my leg posture for the inevitable pins and needles sensation.
Charlie Tan
200 hour YTTC September 2015

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