Comfortable Postures for Meditating
Occasionally, yoga students will ask what are the best ways to sit during meditation. Today, let’s examine 4 basic meditative seats that can help your practice and your posture. Each of these poses encourage an upright spine, which helps the breath flow deeply and the mind remain alert. They’re also excellent seats for practicing pranayama, or breath control exercises.
The Sanskrit word sukha means easy and comfortable. Asana means seat. Therefore, sukhasana is an easy, comfortable seat. Ideally, this seat should feel like its namesake!
I recommend sitting on a folded blanket or meditation cushion for greater lower back support.
- Sit on blanket/cushion with legs straight and slightly spread.
- Gently bend one knee, then the other, crossing legs at shins, just above ankles.
- Position feet so they’re under their opposite thigh.
- If necessary, draw the seat muscles back with hands and even out across the left and right side of the body.
- Lengthen the spine, broaden through the chest, and allow the palms to rest comfortably in your lap.
2. Supported Virasana
The word vira means hero or warrior. This posture is not only used for meditation in the yogic tradition, but also in Buddhism and Islam. If practiced properly, it can help maintain healthy flexibility and mobility in the knees.
Additionally, virasana encouragessuch a nice, tall spine and open front body that it’s one of the 2 poses recommended to practice after eating. The other recommended posture is vajrasana, or thunderbolt pose.
For this version, have a yoga block or folded blanket. A yoga mat or additional blanket for under the shins might also be preferable.
- Sit on the shins and then place the block or folded blanket under the seat (my preference is have the block parallel with the sitting bones). Keeping the inner thighs together, bring each heel to rest outside its respective hip.
- Even out across the sitting bones and make any other adjustments to find symmetry between the right and left sides of the body.
- The tops of the feet should rest comfortably on the floor, middle toe in line with center knee on each side.
- Sit up tall and allow the palms to rest face down on the tops of the thighs, or in any other mudra or hand gesture.
Ardha padmasana means half-lotus pose. This is the preparatory stance for full lotus, which is considered one of the greatest meditative seats. While full lotus is a powerful posture, it demands more flexibility to assume and can be contradictory for those with even minor knee injuries.
Therefore, the half-variation is a great alternative. Like sukhasana, we encourage propping yourself up on a blanket or meditation cushion for added comfort and support.
- Sit with the legs extended and slightly apart.
- Bend one leg, bringing the foot to the inner edge of the opposite thigh.
- Bend the second leg and cross the ankle over the bottom shin. Without strain, bring the foot as high up towards the pubic bone as possible.
- Sit up tall and bring the hands to rest in a mudra of your choice.
If sitting on the floor is not ideal for your knees, back, or hips, sitting upright in a chair is a fine alternative.
Adjust yourself on the chair so your spine is comfortable and upright and both feet can rest evenly on the floor. You might find that sitting more forward in the seat can make a big difference in helping to maintain good posture and a sense of levelness throughout the seat.
Let your hands rest face up or down on the thighs and feel the shoulders and elbows soften.
by Sophie Slater