Seiza, the proper style of sitting on the floor, can be done in a few ways–one is the rather common sense approach to just support your rear in the nest of your feet, but this leads to cutting off your circulation rather quickly. Another approach I hear a lot from martial arts practitioners is to keep your rear slightly elevated off your feet, but this leads to pain in the knees–which is why when I have to get out of seiza I’m usually told “rest your knees” instead of “let some blood back into your feet.” For people who really have bad knees (or who are not held to the same standards as Japanese people), the third option is to get a little stool to fit between your legs and rest on.

I’ve been looking for ways to improve my seiza posture and endurance, but the greatest reassurance I’ve found is that circulation should improve with practice, and it doesn’t seem anyone has ever had their toes fall off due to this posture. I practice seiza while reading or studying kanji so as to keep my mind off the burn, but when I think I’ve been doing it for half an hour, it’s only been eight minutes. Furthermore, it’s one thing to practice this while I’m at home on my carpet, but it seems my feet go cold twice as fast when I’m on the tatami mats in the tea classroom. Perhaps it’s just that my sense of time is altered there?

If I’m going to practice the tea ceremony, I’m just going to have to deal with it and get better! Does anyone else have any seiza training tips you’d like to share?

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