What is Vajrasana?
Yes, it is that “very easy pose” where you just kneel down and sit back on your ankles. Vajra refers to the thunderbolt, a weapon used by Indra, a deity in Hindu mythology. Other sources (Nikam Yoga) also explains it as a strong alloy used to manufacture weapons.
Check out this link to see how it is performed: https://youtu.be/D5Q9jLPOpvc
Why Vajrasana is important to me
Having torn the same ankle ligament for the second time last year, I was well aware that my range of motion will be further limited if I did not exercise the ankle during the healing process. Hence two weeks after my injury, I performed Vajrasana every morning till it was unbearable to continue. I also continued to sit in Vajrasana in my office chair, enduring the throbbing pain. So how could such “a very easy pose” be so challenging for anybody?
Why Some People Find Vajrasana Difficult
Vajrasana distributes the body weight over the shin, knees and thighs. As a result, it thoroughly stretches all the joints on the legs i.e. ankles, knees and groin. It also stretches the muscles, tendons and ligaments along the hips and legs.
Anyone with very tight quadriceps, incredibly huge calf muscles, stiff ankles and weak knees may struggle with this asana. That could range from runners, gym rats, to the sedentary, elderly and overweight.
While it is often advised that those with serious knee and ankle injuries avoid this pose, those with slightly aching or weak knees and ankles could certainly benefit from this pose with a few modifications.
Possible Modifications to Vajrasana
For tight quadriceps, big calves or painful knees – Sit on a block or thick blanket to prop up the hips, or place a folded blanket deep into the back crease of the knees. The spine should be straight to enjoy the benefits of this pose.
For tight or painful ankles – Place a folded blanket under the ankles before sitting back. For mild aches, simply performing Vajrasana by kneeling on a folded blanket or cushion will ease off much of the discomfort.
Other Benefits of Vajrasana
Vajrasana is one of the very few poses one can perform after a meal. In fact, it improves digestion by limiting the blood flow to the legs. No wonder the Japanese naturally sit in Vajrasana during meals.
Breathing exercises can also be performed in Vajrasana, especially for those who find Padamasana too challenging.
This “very simple pose” also relieves lower spine pains, because the body weight is distributed to the shins, knees and thighs, thus allowing the lower spine to be relaxed and suspended between the hip bones. In fact, I have moved into Vajrasana many a times during long meetings, flights and bus rides, so that my lumbar feels less compressed.
All in all, I consider Vajrasana a deceivingly simple but elegant pose, which has many hidden benefits that are being overlooked due to its understated appearance. Furthermore, it helped my ankle recover to a mobile state. So no smirking when you see a gym rat struggling to get into Vajrasana, please. It is not easy for everyone.
– Teo Zhe Hui (TTC 200h, Sep 2017)