Meditation Positions: How To Lie Down, Stand Or Sit To Meditate

Published by Paul Martin Harrison on

meditation sitting positions
  • Whether you choose to sit, lie down or stand up, it is important to know the correct meditation positions. This guide hows the proper posture and poses for meditation.

It is crucial to know how to sit when meditating.

Whether you’re meditating sitting on a meditation chair, a mat, or the floor, you need to have proper posture.

If you sit improperly when you meditate you will put pressure on your spine, and this could potentially lead to spinal injury.  This might not be a problem if you only sit to meditate for a few minutes, but if you’re meditating for an extended period of time (which could be hours if you’re at a Vipassana retreat) then you definitely need to sit properly to meditate.

Even if you are lying down to meditate, you should ideally still be in good posture.

Let’s take a look at the 7 most important meditation postures. 

 

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7 Best Meditation Positions 

*Yoga Journal has a great guide to these different positions. Read it here

1. Quarter Lotus

Quarter Lotus is a position in which your legs are gently crossed with feet underneath the opposite knee.  

 

2. Half Lotus

 Half Lotus is different to Quarter Lotus because one foot is on top of the opposite knee.  

 

3. Full Lotus

Full lotus has both feet on the knees

 

4. Burmese Position

Burmese position is an easier position to lotus. It is done sitting with both feet on the floor and feet in front of the pelvis (not crossed).  

 

5. Seiza

Seiza is a kneeling position usually on a meditation cushion.   

 

6. Chair

Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to sit on a chair or cushion. There is a proper way how to sit on a meditation chair / cushion (use the checklist lower down in this article).

 

7. Shavasana

Shavasana is lying down with the arms and hands at the side of the body, legs a little spread.  

 

8: Standing Up

Yes, you can meditate standing up and this can be a good option, especially if you have injuries of arthritis. Standing up will also help you to focus and to feel grounded when meditating.

And of course, you can always do dance and dynamic meditations.

 

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Yeah, but, these technical meditation postures are not what matters

Newsflash: No matter what any flexible yogi may try to tell you, it does not matter if you can sit with your legs crossed or not.

In fact, sitting with your legs crossed could be doing more damage than good.

Forcing yourself to sit crossed-legged could cause health problems (read this article on the BBC).

  • Sitting crossed-legged can:
  • Increase blood pressure
  • Cause knee injury
  • Cause problems in other areas of the body as you compensate for lack of balance in your legs
  • Cause varicose veins

 

So what are best meditation positions?

Ultimately, it’s up to you what position you meditate in.

You might like to run through the following checklist though:  

Are you comfortable?

If you’re not comfortable when meditating you’re in the wrong position. Period.

Do you have good posture?

It can be hard to know if you’re sitting with perfect posture when  meditating. But you can easily get a sense of whether your spine is in alignment or not. If you think you have bad posture, you probably do, so move.

Are you fidgeting?

Meditation is about focusing. When we focus we do not fidget. So, if your posture is making you fidget while meditating, it’s probably wrong.

Are you trying to look cool?

If I had a dollar for every person who tried to do full lotus just because it looks cool… well, I’d probably donate it all to OXFAM. Point is: it doesn’t matter if you look good when you meditate. That’s not what the meditation postures are for. All that matter is that you’re comfortable and not putting any strain on your body.

Are you uncomfortable after meditating?

When you finish your meditation session do you have any muscle tension, numbness, or soreness? If so it’s a sign you’re in the wrong position.

Do you have a serious issue?

If you have a known medical condition which is interfering with your meditation, ask a professional. Your physiotherapist will be able to suggest the best meditation posture for you.

 

Would a meditation chair / mat / cushion help?

A high quality one of these will provide support for your spine and sitting muscles. It will help to prevent injury. Here’s our picks of the best meditation cushions.

Are you forcing yourself to stay in position?

Normally in meditation we do not move. We’re supposed to be still like a heron. But if you are truly uncomfortable it is far better to get up and move for a few minutes that to continue in the meditation posture for longer (which could cause injury).

Why don’t you take it easy?

Remember the meditation is mostly for the mind, not the body. While you might push yourself physically when you exercise, you shouldn’t push yourself when you meditate. Chill. Go easy. Use the meditation posture that feels best for you.

 

 

With these tips you can find the best meditation position for you. This will help you to stay comfortable and safe when meditating.  

 

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Paul Martin Harrison

Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher, author and journalist based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential. Don’t miss Paul’s inspirational and enlightening book Journey To The Buddha Within You.

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