Meditation Positions: How to Sit Properly for Meditation?

Meditation is a calming and soothing mental exercise that can be performed at any time, in any place, and for any timeframe. It’s essential to keep flexibility in your method whether you’re new to meditation or a seasoned practitioner.

The unique aspect of meditation is that it isn’t one size fits all. Someone may be comfortable sitting directly on the floor for 2 hours straight, while another may find sitting on a chair much more relaxing. There are a number of different positions and techniques one can choose from.

However, in most cases, sitting postures are the most preferred and practiced positions for meditation. A correct sitting posture is essential for meditation because one’s state of the body influences the state of mind.

In this article, we look at how to sit comfortably for meditation and explain the yoga poses in which you can do meditation.

Why does position is so important in meditation? 

Whether you’re looking for enlightenment or just to improve your mental health, correctly positioning your body is the first process in supporting meditation. This mental balance will be more difficult to accomplish if you do not begin meditation in a steady, comfortable position.

A good meditation posture is one that keeps the mind still. In yoga, the reason specific meditative asanas (postures) are recommended for meditation is because they help maintain a balance of ease and steadiness.

If you get too comfortable in a posture, you risk falling asleep. If it’s not easy, your mind will not able to focus. You can understand you’re there for much more than sleep if you sit up for meditation. Your physical posture aids in this awareness.

You need to minimize stiffness and laziness as much as possible. The intensity of your experience will be influenced by the balance between your body and mind. You’ll be calmer during meditation if you pay attention to your posture.

When it comes to identifying the suitable sitting pose for meditation, keeping the back tall and straight is one of the most crucial factors to consider. Instead of leaning forward or back, keep your body in a neutral position. 

This position will aid in breathing properly and allow the flow of energy and the Kundalini to proceed when your spine is in a neutral position.

Seven-Point Meditation Posture

The seven-point position has been suggested by seasoned meditators for centuries as the greatest technique to achieve a calm and clear mindset. These seven points have been derived from the sitting posture of Vairochana, who is one of the main buddhas and also looked upon as a meditational deity in Tibetan Buddhism. 

The description of the seven points is an ideal or optimal posture and can be tweaked to suit each individual’s physical capacity. The primary goal of the various postural positions is to promote a calm and alert mind, which will help with meditation.

When sitting for meditation, look up these seven points to improve your posture;

1. Cross-legged sitting

Cross-legged postures are very common in yoga. When you sit cross-legged, you will notice the back will automatically get elevated and the hips are firm. So it builds a better foundation for sitting in meditation.

Padmasana (full lotus), Ardha Padmasana (half-lotus), Siddhasana, and Sukhasana (any easy cross-legged position) are some of the ideal sitting positions. If you find it challenging, you might try other sitting positions. Other options for sitting include kneeling postures such as Virasana (sitting between the heels) and Vajrasana (sitting on the heels). 

Sitting on an elevated cushion can help relieve leg and knee pain. A cushion or bolster can also be used to brace the knees.

Each of these poses can be modified based on your flexibility and physical capabilities. The key objective is to follow a posture that promotes a calm and alert mind while avoiding the discomfort that would hinder that mindset.

2. Hands in the lap or on the knees

In a correct meditation posture, your hands should be placed around 2–3 inches beneath your navel, palms facing upwards, or laying palms down on the knees or thighs in a relaxing meditation.

There are various hand postures in yoga that assist in meditation, called meditation hand mudras. The most common one is Dhyan mudra.

In this hand mudra, the two hands should be cradled gently such that the tips of the thumbs create a triangle. This is a normal axis point to lay them on, which can provide proper support for your upright spine.

Sitting with your palms down has the impact of refreshing the flow of energy all over your body.

The left hand represents wisdom, while the right hand symbolizes compassion. You are helping to bring the two together with this pose.

3. Straight back

The most significant postural aim of a meditation position is to keep the spine naturally erect. Your spine should be as straight as an arrow or a pile of coins stacked on top of each other.

Being naturally erect means having a poised, alert posture that is neither constrictive nor slumped. This posture increases alertness during meditation practice and allows energy to flow freely through the body’s subtle energy channels (aka Nadis).

It may be challenging at first, but it will become innate over time, and you will be able to sit easily in meditation for evermore extended periods of time.

The placement of your legs can strongly impact how effortless it is to sustain a straight back; mostly, the higher the cushion under your buttocks and the relatively low your knees, the easier it is to retain a straight back.

4. Spread shoulders

Arms and shoulders should be relaxed. Your arms must not be placed against your body, but should be held a few inches apart to enable air circulation, which will allow you to stay awake.

Shoulders ought to be slightly back and not dropped forward. Relax the muscles in your shoulder and back. This forms a strong back all the while opening the front body. As stated earlier, this promotes an alert, attentive mind as opposed to one that is distracted or gloomy.

5. Straight head 

Instead of being pointed forward, the chin should be tucked down slightly toward the neck. You don’t need to go so far that you’re staring down at your lap, but you also don’t want your head tilted so high that it tires you out.

If you hold your head excessively high, you could experience distraction and restlessness, and if you hold it too low, you might feel heaviness or sleepiness.

Your neck must be lowered to the point where your vision is easily drawn to the floor in front of you. This facilitates your neck to remain comfortable, it should never be strained.

6. Relaxed mouth

Your jaw should be relaxed, and your teeth should be mildly apart rather than clenched. Your mouth must also be loosened, with your lips delicately together.

The tip of your tongue should rest behind your upper teeth on the palate. This restricts the flow of saliva hence the need to swallow, as these are obstacles as your concentration improves and you sit in meditation for longer periods of time.

7. Fixed gaze

Without any fixed object of concentrate, one’s gaze should be focused slightly downward, along the bridge of the nose. Eye motions to the left or right should be avoided; but, depending on one’s mental level of activity, the gaze may be elevated or dropped. 

Shift the gaze down if the mind is extremely active; if the mind is dull or sleepy, raise the gaze to offset that state.

With their eyes closed, novice meditators typically find it easier to concentrate. This is perfectly OK. It is advisable, however, that you keep your eyes partially open to allow some light in and focus your attention slightly downward. Shut your eyes could lead to sluggishness, drowsiness, all of which are unhelpful to meditation.

If you find it difficult to concentrate with your eyes open, close them. Before you start to meditate, you must make the choice about what you will do, or you will shift back and forth between closing or opening your eyes for the entire meditation duration.

Seated yoga poses for meditation

One of the most prevalent meditation positions is sitting in a cross-legged position. The posture pointers are the same regardless of which sitting meditation position you decide: the back is straight but relaxed, the head and neck are centered over the spine, and the arms lay on the thighs or in the lap.

If your body aches or hurts while meditation, you can modify your position. Remember that if your seating isn’t comfortable, the entire body will constrict, making it even harder to meditate.

In any of the below-mentioned seated positions, you also can lean against a wall for support. To assist optimal spine posture, place a rolled-up towel, sweatshirt, or a small bolster between the base of your lower back and the wall.

Let us have a look at some of the seated positions most preferred for meditation.

1. Full lotus pose

legs and hands in lotus pose
Legs crossed and hands in Gyan mudra in Lotus pose. Image Source: Shutterstock

Also known as Padmasana, it entails sitting on the ground or a flat surface while crossing the legs and resting the top of each foot on the opposing thigh. It is one of the ideal and recognized meditative positions.

This meditation posture is incredibly steady and uniform, which is good when understanding the connectivity of mind and body, but it demands a lot of lower body flexibility. This is why this pose is often difficult to practice by beginners.

This is primarily due to the fact that we are no longer accustomed to squatting and sitting on the floor. As a result, our hips are restricted in their motion. If you have serious knee or hip problems, or if it feels like pressure on your body, don’t try full lotus.

  • Sit comfortably on the ground with your hips open. 
  • Cross your legs such that your left foot is on top of your right ankle and your right foot is on top of your left ankle. 
  • Pull the feet and place them on the opposite upper thigh, the left foot in the right upper thigh and vice versa. 
  • Put the soles of your feet to face up. 
  • Relax the shoulders and knees toward the floor to lengthen the spine. 
  • Your palms can face up when you put your hands on your knees.
  • Raise your chest and stretch your spine by sitting upright. 
  • Sitting on a folded blanket raises the pelvis above the knees, which helps to align the hips and prevent the spine from rounding.

2. Half lotus pose

The half lotus or Ardha Padmasana is the next best option, as it is identical to the lotus but just one foot rests on the opposite thigh. Your legs are crossed, and one foot is resting on the thigh of the person on the other side. The other foot can be tucked under the top leg and nestled beneath the knee or thigh.

This is an intermediate-level pose. If you don’t have a lot of hip flexibility, to begin with, you’ll have to work your way up to it. If you have a chronic or recent knee or hip injury, or inflammatory problems in those joints, this posture is not for you. Your knees may be strained as a result.

  • Sit comfortably on the ground with your hips open. 
  • Cross your legs such that your left foot is on top of your right ankle and your right foot is on top of your left ankle. 
  • Pull the right foot and place it on the opposite left upper thigh. 
  • Maintain a cross-legged position with your left knee bent and your left shin resting comfortably on the floor.
  • Put the soles of your right foot to face up. 
  • Relax the shoulders and knees toward the floor to lengthen the spine. 
  • To maintain your spine straight, move your shoulders away from your ears. Your palms can be turned up or down as you rest your hands on your thighs.
  • Sitting on a folded blanket raises the pelvis above the knees, which helps to align the hips and prevent the spine from rounding.
  • You can also place a yoga block or cushion under the knee.

3. Quarter lotus

Each foot rests below the opposite knee in this posture. It’s the traditional cross-legged stance. The quarter lotus position is a modified version of the lotus pose that enables yogis with tight hips and ankles to maintain the sitting meditation pose. 

The pose is appropriate for practitioners of all levels and is typically performed by beginners who find the full lotus position too challenging to sustain for lengthy periods of time.

In this position, a meditation cushion can help elevate the hips and rotate the pelvis forward enough to keep the lower back from rounding. To achieve this tilt, sit towards the front cushion. 

No matter how you sit, you don’t want your knees to be higher than your hips. 

  • Sit comfortably on the ground with your legs stretched in front of you. 
  • Pull both legs toward you and place the feet under the opposite knee, i.e right foot under the left knee and vice versa. 
  • Make sure your calves are resting comfortably on the ground
  • Relax the shoulders and knees toward the floor to lengthen the spine. 
  • To maintain your spine straight, move your shoulders away from your ears. 
  • Your palms can be turned up or down as you rest your hands on your thighs.

4. Burmese or Easy Pose 

The Burmese position is more relaxing than the Lotus position. It is performed while sitting with both feet down on the ground in front of the pelvis, not crossed. It’s especially good for people who can’t sit cross-legged yet want to practise on the floor or on a mat.

This is the Sukhasana or the easy pose which is also the starting point for many yoga asanas. The word “easy” in this context implies “without difficulty,” not certainly the polar opposite of “difficult.”

Tilt your pelvis forward if you find your spine is rounding. It is simpler to tilt with the pelvis forward if the hips are raised above the knees by placing a prop below the sitting bones. As a result, you’ll be able to stay in this peaceful meditation stance for as long as you choose.

  • Sit comfortably on the ground with your legs stretched in front of you. 
  • Pull both legs toward you and place the legs in front of each other – with your left leg pulled in and your right leg just ahead of it. 
  • Relax the shoulders and knees toward the floor to lengthen the spine. 
  • To maintain your spine straight, move your shoulders away from your ears. 
  • Keep your elbows pointing inwards toward your torso. 
  • Place your hands in your lap, one on top of the other, palms up, or keep the hands palms down on your knees.

5. Seiza

Kneel and arrange a cushion, blanket, or a yoga block between your legs instead of sitting with your legs crossed. This position is simply a propped-up variation of Virasana (Hero Pose) or Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose).

Seiza’s kneeling position relieves pressure on the lower body’s joints and allows the back to naturally straighten. For a beginner, some cushioning under the knees and feet will be extremely beneficial.

Because the cushion provides support, many students find this more comforting than kneeling directly on the floor. It also helps with meditation as you automatically get a straight spine.

  • Kneel on the ground. 
  • If necessary, put a folded blanket or pillow between your calves and thighs. 
  • Your feet should be slightly wider than your hips, and the tops of your feet should be flat on the floor. 
  • Your big toes should be angled slightly inwards toward each other, and the top of each foot should be evenly pressed on the floor. 
  • Sit down between your feet with your torso tilted slightly forward.
  • Raise your buttocks on a block or a thick book put between your feet if you are unable to bring them down properly on the floor. 
  • You can also cushion your ankles with a blanket or towel if you’re having issues with them.
  • Place one hand on top of the other on your lap, palms up, or on your thighs, palms down.

Alternative positions for meditation

If you do not prefer sitting meditation, you can always try out other positions that will give you the same calming effect. All you need to make sure that your spine is straight with your head aligned, your hands resting comfortably on your lap, thighs, or knees and your muscles are completely relaxed.

The most important thing in meditation is to find a comfortable position that allows you to feel quiet and relaxed.

Meditation on a chair

Sitting on a chair may be a more suitable option than sitting on the floor in a cross-legged or kneeling position. Meditating in a chair gives all of the perks of sitting (cross-legged) meditation. If it’s feasible, set aside a chair solely for meditation. This acts as a cue to the environment. It’s a technique for the mind to become accustomed to the fact that this is how I meditate.

Chair meditation is a great choice for anyone who has knee injuries or other physical challenges that make sitting on the floor painful. Place both feet firmly on the ground if you prefer to sit in a chair. If the feet do not reach the ground, place a prop under them to provide them support.

But ensure you’re sitting away from the chair’s back and your feet are firmly planted on the floor, lined with your hips and knees. Position your head over your spine and sit on the edge of the chair. Insert a cushion behind your back or sit on one if your spine requires more stability.

Meditation while standing

Standing meditation is just like standing in the Tadasana or Mountain Pose. Your feet have to be placed firmly on the ground, arms hanging beside you in a relaxed manner and head aligned comfortably with the spine. You also have to maintain a straight spine in this method as well.

For people who can’t sit for lengthy periods of time, this is a good option. It’s especially beneficial if you find yourself falling asleep during your meditations or if sitting brings you pain. You can do all of the sitting meditation practices while standing. If you’re standing, make sure your knees aren’t locked.

You can try some variations with the placement of your legs and feet. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart or join your feet at the heels so that they are closer and the toes are pointing away from each other.

Also, you can place both your hands on the belly, one hand on the heart, and one on the belly, or in the prayer position.

Meditation while lying

Any prolonged meditation session may cause moderate ache, but if sitting in a chair brings you pain, lying down meditation is an alternative. If you lie down, you may benefit from being able to loosen up and relieve tension. Your body will be fully supported in this manner. 

To meditate in this manner, lie down on your back in the corpse pose (savasana) with your arms at your sides and palms up, like in yoga. Then begin your meditation by keeping your body calm yet awake and aware.

You can make the meditation more comfortable, you can place a folded blanket under your head to support your neck and head. Lying on a bolster, placed lengthwise under your spine, will help support the spine. Using props is extremely beneficial if you are extremely tired or suffer from severe body aches.

However, you need to be cautious that this position often induces sleep. To keep it at bay, try a few of these modifications:

  • Bend your knees to place your feet on the ground so as to keep your mind alert. 
  • Keep the legs hip-width apart. When you start falling asleep, your legs will automatically fall on the sides, which will wake you up.
  • Place your hands on your belly. Join the tips of the thumbs and interlock all the other fingers. When you start to fall asleep, your thumbs will pull apart, alerting you to wake up.
  • Instead of placing your arms flat on the ground, raise one forearm so that it is perpendicular to the floor. As soon as you fall asleep, the arm will fall and wake you up.

Meditation while walking

Walking while meditating may appear unusual at first, but it is a great way to bring a gentle awareness to this common activity. We’re walking deliberately, utilizing a meditative approach, with our eyes wide open, a comfortable pace, and our focus on whatever setting we’re in. 

A meditation stroll, which is ideal for people who lead hectic lives, maybe done anywhere and at any pace.

Meditative walking is often practiced as a part of mindfulness meditation, where you train your brain to be mindful of the activity you are performing, without paying heed to any thoughts that arise.

Conclusion

Assess different meditation positions and see what feels right for you. The most important thing is to create a solid and comfortable position, not to sit in the way you think a meditator should sit. Don’t put your physical health in the back seat in order to improve your mental health.

It’s critical to begin in a comfortable position so that you can gradually adjust your body into proper alignment throughout your practice.

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