What are the best meditation positions for beginners? And do you need to use the traditional Buddhist meditation sitting position?
Your meditation posture is incredibly important. Not just for your body, but for your mind too.
If you have a bad body position when meditating, you will put pressure on your spine, and this could potentially lead to spinal injury. [here’s how to use meditation to improve your spinal health]
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 have the right posture when meditating.
Even if you are lying down to meditate, you should ideally still adopt one of the proper meditation positions.
But what are the best meditation positions for beginners?
7 Best Meditation Positions For Beginners To Learn For Good Posture
These are the technical positions for meditating. However I highly recommend you read my guide on how to sit for meditation, because for many people these technical positions are not ideal.
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).
Seiza is a kneeling position usually on a cushion.
Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to sit on a chair or cushion. Actually, a good chair will improve your seated meditation posture.
Shavasana is lying down with the arms and hands at the side of the body, legs a little spread.
8: Standing Up
Yes, one of the best meditation positions for beginners is standing up. This is 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 movement meditations.
A More Comfortable Posture
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, the traditional meditation sitting position with the 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
In other words: sitting cross-legged is probably not the best meditation position for beginners.
It Poses No Issue!
If you force yourself to sit in meditation positions that are uncomfortable for you, you are going to get knee and back pain when meditating.
Forcing your legs into a position they are not comfortable in is unsafe, especially if you have problems with your knees or other joints, or if you have a medical condition such as arthritis. Arthritic knees make it utterly impossible to sit for meditation in lotus position.
Not only are these positions bad for your body, they are bad for your practice too.
Forcing yourself into uncomfortable meditation sitting positions when meditating will actually stop you from meditating properly.
When you are uncomfortable, you cannot focus. If you sit in a painful way your mind will simply focus on the pain. It will be impossible for you to meditate.
That is why the right way how to sit for meditation is not in the technical positions.
Yes, Buddhist monks sit with their legs cross. And so do yoga teachers. But that is because they are trained to do so. And they find it perfectly comfortable.
If you do not find lotus position or Burmese position comfortable, then it is now the right way how to sit for meditation.
Sitting Could Be Bad
You may be thinking, “Buddhist monks sit in lotus position, and they are the masters, so if they sit with legs crossed, I should too.”
Fair point. Except that Buddhist monks can sit comfortably with their legs crossed. Most adults in the west cannot. Plus, sitting with your legs crossed for too long can be bad for your health.
To prove this, go ahead and sit with your legs crossed for a few minutes. And try to focus on your breath. If you are not comfortable in this positions, you will find that your mind continually focuses on the discomfort in your legs. This makes it impossible to focus your mind on meditating.
Clearly this is not a good way how to sit for meditation for most people.
But then, why do Buddhists sit in lotus?
The reasons behind the Buddhist meditation sitting position
Have you ever wondered precisely why monks meditate with their legs crossed? Why is lotus position considered the best meditation sitting position?
The reason we meditate in lotus position is because it creates a sense of stability. And science proves this. In one scientific study, researchers found that sitting with your legs crossed increases stability in the pelvis. This stability in the pelvis supports the spine and, importantly, it creates a sense of grounding in the mind. When body is stable and still, the mind is more likely to be so. And that is why the best way of sitting for meditation is lotus position.
But: This is only true if you can sit comfortably with your legs crossed. Otherwise, you will not have stability, and instead of helping you, lotus position will harm you and make it harder to focus during meditation.
Instead Of Lotus Position, THIS Is How To Sit For Meditation
If you cannot sit with your legs crossed and meditate comfortably, what are you supposed to do?
Actually, you have a lot of options. And I suggest you try out a few different sitting positions when meditating. That way you can find the position that is best for you both in terms of comfort and in terms of focusing your mind on meditating.
That said there are a few essentials when it comes to sitting for meditation.
How To Sit For Meditation In 3 Steps
1: Good posture
Do you do yoga or tai chi? If so, you will know the feeling of intentionally adopting a pose.
For instance, when you are in Warrior Position, you are in an energised, intentional, consciously aware position.
There is a level of intent in the way you are holding you body. And that same intent must be there when you are meditating.
It doesn’t matter precisely which position you are in. But when you meditate, sit with intent.
2: Check For Stability
The main reason Buddhist monks sit in lotus position is because it creates a sense of stability in the pelvis and in the spine.
You can get that same level of stability in other positions. Whether you’re in a chair, on a cushion or pillow, you can feel that level of stability when you sit properly.
So ask yourself when you are sitting meditating: Do you feel stability? It should be a kind of grounding stability that creates solidity in your body.
3: Tune-In To Your Mind
If you have followed steps one and two, you should feel a sense of focus and stability in your mind. You should feel grounded.
This is the final test. And it is the most important point. If you have a good meditation sitting position, you will feel focused in your mind.
If your current sitting position is not meeting those three points above, change your position and the run through these same 3 steps. And that is how to sit for meditation in a way that works for you personally.
An Alternative Pose
In some instances you will still struggle to sit comfortably for meditation.
Another solution is to do a more active form of meditation.
There are some meditations that are not done sitting. For instance, Osho dynamic meditations offer a way to meditate while moving. These are perfect when you can’t sit comfortably for long stretches of time.
There are so many different ways how to sit for meditation, and lots of meditations that don’t require you to sit at all. So if you’ve been uncomfortable up to now, simply try something different. Trust me, you will find a technique that works for you.
So what are best meditation positions for beginners?
Ultimately, it’s up to you what meditation position you meditate in.
Your meditation posture is up to you, and you should decide based on your own body.
Are you comfortable?
You will know that you have bad meditation posture if you are uncomfortable.
Is your posture when meditating healthy?
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 meditation posture, you probably do, so move.
Are you fidgeting?
One way to know if you have good meditation posture is to notice whether you’re fidgeting.
Meditation is about focusing. When we focus we do not fidget. So, if your meditation 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.
If you have bad meditation posture you might experience pain afterwards
When you finish your session do you have any muscle tension, numbness, or soreness? If so it’s a sign you’re in the wrong position. The key signs to look for are knee and back pain.
Do you have a serious issue?
If you have a known medical condition which is interfering with your practice, 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 one meditation position too long?
The best meditation position for beginners might be a combination of different postures.
Normally when practicing 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 practice 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.
So, really, there is no one best meditation position for beginners. It is entirely up to you and your body.
With these tips you can find the best meditation position for you. This will help you to stay comfortable and safe when meditating.