One of the classic images that come to mind when you think about meditation is that of a yogi sitting in lotus position on the floor, back almost impossibly straight. For people new to meditation, it’s a position that can be uncomfortable and hard to maintain for longer periods of time.
While posture is important in meditation, you’re not expected to adopt the perfect posture immediately. It is something you will develop over time.
Body postures are perhaps most well known in yoga where practitioners use Asanas, or body positions to tap into deeper levels of relaxation, awareness, and strength. Meditation, as a branch of yoga, also encourages certain body postures.
Different Meditation Techniques
There are different techniques that can be used for meditation, and the position of the body often depends on the intention of, or reason for, the session. Meditation can be used for relaxation, to develop concentration, to aid in emotional healing, or it may be directed toward self-witnessing, self-understanding, spiritual practices, and mastering one’s own thoughts.
If the purpose behind a meditation session is to relax and heal emotionally, and you prefer to listen to a guided meditation or visualization of some sort, you can choose just about any comfortable position—even lying down. If your intention is to further your practice, it’s more important to keep a position of awareness and attention.
Basic Meditation Posture
For traditional seated meditation, there are many different ways to prepare your body for a session. Traditionally, meditation postures have consisted of sitting crossed-legged with certain mudras (hand positions) in place. However, sitting crossed-legged for longer periods of time is the most common challenge to individuals who are new to meditation, and it’s a major reason why some people quickly abandon the practice altogether. It takes time to get used to sitting crossed-legged without having your legs fall asleep within minutes.
The reason this position is so popular is because it encourages a rested state while at the same time having an active body, which includes your legs. When done properly, your body should not sit heavy on top of your legs. It is an energized position where the entire body remains straight and upright.
When you meditate, the goal is to get your body to a state of restful awareness, where you can witness the fluctuations of the mind. You don’t have to sit cross-legged, but it is important to make sure you’re comfortable, as this is the number one rule in meditation. Here are a few important things to consider when choosing a position and preparing to meditate.
6 Tips for Finding Comfort in Meditation
- Wear comfortable clothes: Always wear loose-fitting clothes that allow your breathing to be deep and natural. Proper breathing is directly linked to relaxation. Tight jeans or slacks, shirts, and belts might constrict the expansion of the belly.
- Meditate on an empty stomach: A heavy, full stomach can impede your efforts toward awareness and, instead, in the direction of thoughts.
- Sit up straight: A straight spine is essential in meditation. You can sit on the floor cross-legged, or you can sit in a chair. You can even walk while you meditate—the important thing is to keep a straight spine. This will allow the life force energy to move freely throughout the body. This energy is awareness, and awareness is one of the most important components of meditation.
- Get comfortable: Whether you sit in a chair or on a meditation cushion, it’s important to make yourself as comfortable as possible—but not so comfortable that you fall asleep.
- Find the right head position: Keep your chin slightly pulled back, like a soldier at attention.
- Stay warm: If you run cold, use a shawl to cover your body. It provides both warmth and a feeling of protection as you start your journey into the abstract layers of your mind.
When you’re first starting out, don’t worry too much if your posture feels off. Just try to sit with a straight spine and know that it will get easier over time. Perseverance and a deep desire to connect with your inner essence are the main keys to a successful meditation practice, no matter what body position you decide to use.