Meditation is a process that aims to calm the mind and bring inner peace. It makes sense that this can only be achieved when you are in a comfortable position, which allows you to meditate for enough minutes.
A poor posture means extra distraction, which affects your settling, messing up your focus, and extending the meditation duration. Here is a look at how to get a comfortable position in sitting meditation and the various positions you can try out.
The importance of posture
Posture contributes to four main things during meditation, which is why you need to get it right. These four are;
- Comfort, as already mentioned, is essential if you are to gain and maintain your focus for the meditation duration. A poor posture will result in pain necessitating regular shifting, which interferes with your attention. There is also the risk of developing a long-term pain issue with poor posture.
- Stillness is another factor to consider. In meditation, it implies stability, which is necessary for focus. You should not be moving around once you start the meditation. You can find the center you need by rocking side to side gently side to side and forward and backward until you settle in a stable position.
- Alignment is the third factor to consider when choosing a sitting position. Your sitting position should allow your back, neck, and head to align in a natural upright way. You should not lean or hunch forward, and the chin should be lowered slightly. You can raise your chest a bit to avoid slumping.
- Relaxation helps you settle down and focus on the key areas being the neck, the arms, shoulders, face, and knees. The arms should hang comfortably on the sides with the hands resting on the laps or the knees lightly. Legs should also be relaxed and comfortable with the knees, ideally touching the ground. Where this is not possible, the knees should be supported with auxiliary aids, like cushions, to alleviate any pressure and pain in the hips.
Related reading: Guide to Different Types of Meditation Practices – Opens in new tab
Types of seating meditation positions
There are several seating meditation positions which all offer options for keeping the right posture. All you have to do is find one that allows you to be relaxed and comfortable while maintaining stillness and the proper alignment. Here is a look at the six central positions for seated meditation.
1. Easy Pose
The easy pose is also known as the Burmese position or the Sukhasana pose. It is a foundational position for sitting meditation. It may be called easy, but the implication here is not the opposite of hard, but rather ‘with ease.’ It is a cross-legged position the simplest of its kind. It involves you sitting on a mat with your knees out wide. Your feet are pulled gently towards the pelvis, with the tops touching the mat and below the opposite knee.
While it is quite easy to learn this move, it is not one of the most stable positions, especially if you plan for longer than 10 minutes of meditation. You are more likely to round your spine in easy pose, and also, the feet tend to get numb faster in this position. You can avoid this by gently pushing your pelvis forward. You can put a prop beneath your sitting bones to make tilting the pelvis much smoother.
You can prevent the numbness by keeping the feet as far from the pelvis as you can, which prevents the knees from bending too much and affecting blood circulation in the body. You can further improve your comfort by placing meditation aids like meditating cushions or blankets under the knees or under the ankles to ease supination’s strain on the ankles.
The easy pose is excellent for opening up the hips and a good stretching exercise for your ankles and knees.
Related reading: New to Meditation? Here are the Major Mistakes you can make
2. Quarter Lotus
It is a position much similar to the Burmese pose. You will ideally need a zafu or pillow for better comfort in this position. You start cross-legged only this time the left foot stays on the floor, but the right foot is raised to rest on your left leg’s calf.
The left foot can remain on the floor or below the right leg thigh. If you are sitting on the cushion, make sure you are much closer to the edge to allow your hips to open and keep the legs crossed ahead of you.
3. Half Lotus
The half-lotus position is the next step in the progression to the full lotus position. It takes the quarter lotus a step further by having the right foot much closer to your body trunk since it is rested farther beyond the left leg’s calf higher on the thigh. Ideally, it should rest in the hips crease. If your knees are popping up, sit on a prop or place blankets under the knees.
Your head’s crown should be lifted to elongate the spine while relaxing your shoulders at the same time. You can rest your palms on top of the thighs. It is not an ideal position if you are suffering from any knee or hip injuries or complications.
4. Full Lotus
The full lotus is an advanced sitting meditation pose, and it is one of the most recognizable meditation positions. Like the other lotus positions, you begin from an easy posture, and this time you rest both feet on the opposite leg’s thigh with the soles facing upward. This position requires full hip mobility, which you can gain by consistent practice.
Fortunately, it is one of the best-seated meditation positions offering complete stability and symmetry. Keep a straight spine to relax the shoulders and prevent rounding while the knees should be towards the floor. You can always alternate which foot is at the bottom and which is at the top in different meditation sessions for evenness in stretching and weight distribution.
5. Seiza position
Kneeling is also an option for seated meditation. It is a straightforward position to get in and out. It is excellent for people with limited flexibility, especially at the hips, which limits the legs range of motion that allows for the cross-legged seated positions.
In seiza position, the knees are kept shoulder-width apart with the buttocks resting in the space between or placed on the heels. Several meditation aids can be used in this position. You can have a meditation bench, a pillow or cushion placed under your buttocks for more comfort, and relieve pressure on your knee joints.
6. Sitting on a chair
The final sitting position is to sit on a chair. It is an excellent position for those struggling with flexibility, mobility, sore knees, and comfort. The only challenge here is that you may find it too comfortable and can easily fall asleep.
Maintaining alignment is also critical when sitting in a chair to avoid the wrong posture, especially leaning back into the backrest. You should sit up straight towards the front third of the chair with your feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor. If you have a problem with your back, use a pillow or cushion to support your lower back but still keep you in the right posture.
If your feet do not touch the ground, you can look for support to pace them on to not remain hanging. You can also place blankets under the sitting bones to raise your hips and relieve the knees’ tension.
Read also our article: Warnings about Meditation (Precautions and Negative Side Effects). – Opens in new tab
Meditation aids to help you with comfort
Several meditation aids will help you achieve the most from your meditation period and also do it safely. The main kinds of meditation aids include;
- Meditation benches
- Meditation cushions
- Meditation pillows
- Meditation bolsters
- Meditation blankets
Meditation aids: Check here for availability and current prices (aff.link)
Your body is not designed as either perfectly straight or perfectly curved. It will usually be contorted into the shape of the surface it rests upon unless proper support is provided. Without the right support, the hips spine, shoulders, legs, and neck muscles are under extreme pain, which may even create long term complications on top of affecting your meditation productivity.
These meditation aids help you achieve the right posture, elongated and upright by providing the needed support. They also help you attain the correct alignment from your head to the toes supporting the right curving of the back and head level, easing pressure on the spinal components. Other benefits include;
- Alleviating physical discomfort allowing you to meditate for more extended periods.
- Elevating your hips and sitting bones which distributes weight from your behind to your legs.
- Provide relief and support to your back neck and shoulders.
- Allow for proper stretching of the hips, knees, and ankles.
Finding the right meditation position is all about your comfort, relaxation, stability, stillness, and alignment. It is no use going for an advanced pose if you cannot stay on one comfortably for your meditation duration. Try out the different methods and find one that allows you to reap all your meditation session benefits.
The more relaxed you will be, the few distractions die to physical discomfort you will have. Investing in several high-quality meditation aids will also add the required quality in comfort and posture, critical for your safety and meditation effectiveness.
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