Meditation posture matters because it keeps you comfortable, helps you focus, and keeps pain at bay while you are meditating. Many people struggle with meditating because of incorrect posture. Fortunately, with a little bit of knowledge, you can learn correct meditation posture and be on your way to mindfulness and calm in no time!
Here are sixteen meditation posture tips for getting the posture right every time:
- Find your space
- Support your body with a firm base
- Get comfortable
- Relax your body
- Use the seven-point meditation posture
- Lotus pose is not mandatory
- Don’t complicate the breathing
- Don’t obsess over your posture
- Always stretch before meditating
- The Lotus Position
- The Burmese Position
- Chair Sitting
- Lying Down
In this in-depth guide about meditation posture, you will acquire helpful tips about meditation posture and learn about the positions you can use during meditation. Above all else, you will learn that the way you meditate and the posture you use are unique to you.
Meditation Posture 101: 16 Tips for Meditators
Although sometimes overlooked, posture is crucial for successful meditation. If you’re positioned inappropriately, it might be challenging to meditate because of discomfort. However, with the following tips, you can meditate better and, hopefully, achieve the results you want.
1. Find Your Space
The meditation space you choose often dictates the posture you use. You need to choose a space where you can stretch your feet and legs without meeting obstacles like walls or other objects. This helps you stretch yourself sufficiently and also gives you a chance to explore multiple meditation postures without hindrance.
Ensure that you find an open space indoors or outdoors where you can bring everything you use during meditation. Yes, you can meditate anywhere. However, the meditation space you create at home needs to feel like it — just like your bedroom or other rooms have specific ambiances to them.
You can consider the following meditation space tips:
- Choose the calmest area of your house.
- Declutter the space and keep it clean.
- Include nature since it soothes and promotes peace.
- Personalize the area.
- Use aromatic enhancements.
If you set up a place for meditation, ensure that you’ve done your best to make it feel comfortable to you—the external mood matters, especially at the beginning and for people who prefer purpose-driven spaces.
2. Support Your Body with a Firm Base
Supporting your body when sitting makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. However, since floors tend to be hard, many people grab cushions to sit on during meditation. This can be a serious problem for your posture because not all cushions are suitable for meditation. If you sink into the cushion, you will compromise the whole meditation posture.
Therefore, if the floors are too hard for you, try the following:
- Mat: The Lotuscrafts Zabuton Meditation Mat is made of 100% organic cotton and one of the best you’ll find online.
- Cushion: The Florensi Meditation Cushion is firm thanks to its long-lasting features like the 100% buckwheat hull filling.
- Block: The Gaiam Essentials Yoga Block is a best seller in the yoga blocks section.
Otherwise, you can use a firm mat, cushion, block, or chair from your home. It just should be firm and help you meditate without feeling physical discomfort or pain after a session.
Choosing the right object to sit on is vital for the proper alignment of your spine and the positioning of your legs – both are principal parts of the body influencing your meditation posture.
3. Get Comfortable
You can’t achieve the comfort you may feel when you’re lying in bed while sleeping but at least position yourself to feel alert yet at ease. Whether you’re sitting, standing, or lying down, ensure that your focus isn’t entirely directed at the intense pain you feel, or the awkward angle of your knees, no. That’ll mean you’re not comfortable.
Take the time to make sure that you are in a position that is comfortable for you before meditating so that your body does not distract you during meditation.
4. Relax Your Body
After you feel comfortable with the position you’re in, let go of all the physical tension you might be having. Relax your limbs, stomach, shoulders — every inch of your body no matter what position it holds, should feel relaxed. If you choose to sit, you can use the seven-point meditation posture.
Here are tips to help you relax:
- Take deep breaths.
- Relax your muscles by stretching and massaging the tense points.
- Exercise before meditation.
- Use some soothing background music
5. Use the Seven-Point Meditation Posture
The seven-point meditation posture is a traditional sitting position practiced by Tibetan Buddhists. This posture aims to position seven distinct parts of the body appropriately. It has been used by several meditators for thousands of years with great success.
In the beginning, the seven-point posture can feel impossible to achieve. However, as you go through the fundamentals, step by step, the posture will become more natural to you.
The seven-point meditation posture requires the following positioning:
It all starts with the legs where you may use the full lotus position or Padmasana.
To get into the full lotus position:
- Put your right leg on your left thigh.
- Put your left leg on your right thigh.
- Make sure your soles are facing upwards.
However, this position is challenging for many people, so you can start with half lotus.
The half lotus or Ardha Padmasana is a meditation posture where:
- The right foot is on the left thigh, and the left foot is under the right thigh.
- The left foot is on the right thigh and the right foot under the left thigh.
It’s just “one leg under” and “one leg over” as opposed to “both legs over” the thigh, which is the full lotus. If both the full lotus and the half-lotus seem painful for you to accomplish, you can assume the quarter lotus position.
In the quarter lotus meditation posture, you:
- Put the right leg under your left thigh and place the left leg on the calf of your right leg.
- Place the left leg under your right thigh and then put the right leg on your left leg’s calf.
Starting with the quarter lotus helps you learn posture and position your other body parts appropriately.
Here’s how you should position your arms:
- Relax the arms and put the right palm on the left palm — both facing upwards.
- Let the thumb fingers of each arm touch each other lightly, forming a figure resembling a flame or teardrop.
- Position your palms up to three inches below your navel.
- Relax your shoulders and project your arms outward subtly.
The above placement of the arms is the best for keeping you alert and also promotes air circulation around your body.
Your back’s posture is crucial for meditation since it determines your upper body positioning. It needs to be upright yet relaxed so that you can hold your head high. Think about it as elongating your spine as much as you can.
A straight back promotes alertness and clarity of the mind during meditation. It also enables the natural flow of energy throughout the entire body. The benefits of a straight back are not only seen through meditation but also in normal body positioning.
Here’s how to keep your back straight when meditating:
- Keep your buttocks raised and your knees lowered.
- Always keep the shoulders relaxed, so you breathe easier and keep the back sturdier.
- Imagine your spine is made of blocks stacked on each other and stretch the furthest you can to build a spine block skyscraper.
- Relax your body so that you can stay upright for an extended time.
Many beginner meditators choose to close their eyes when meditating to shut out all visual distractions, but the seven-point posture follows a different method.
For this posture, your eyes need to be semi-closed to let some light in, and your gaze needs to be directed downwards as if focusing on the tip of your nose.
If you close your eyes, you might become sluggish, sleepy, or even start daydreaming, and all these things are considered as hindrances of clarity in meditation.
For a lengthy attention span, the shoulders should be relaxed and spread. Slightly arch your shoulders backward instead of slumping forward.
This positioning of the shoulders also helps you keep your spine elongated for alertness and a harmonious posture for the whole body. If you slump your shoulders forward, you may find yourself feeling lazy. Moreover, long sessions might lead to back pain.
The tongue can be distracting since, in its usual position, it creates additional saliva. This can trigger your senses and compromise your focus.
Therefore, the seven-point meditation posture needs you to put your tongue slightly against the palette behind your front teeth. In addition to keeping you alert, this will help you keep the salivary glands on hold so that you can finish your meditation session.
As opposed to the thinking of many people, your head shouldn’t be held superficially high. Neither should it be slouched forward until the neck bends entirely. The seven-point posture requires you to incline the head subtly so that your gaze is comfortably directed to the ground.
That’s it for the seven-point meditation. As you can see, this posture is geared toward attentiveness and clarity of the mind. Even though Buddha used many meditation postures, the fundamentals of the seven-point meditation posture are considered some of the best posture techniques.
6. Lotus Pose is Not Mandatory
When most people think of meditation, a person sitting with their legs in a lotus position will likely come to mind. And this might be the only meditation posture many people know. As a result, they meditate in the lotus pose, whether they are comfortable or not.
However, you don’t have to stick with one single position that isn‘t working for you. There are numerous meditation postures that you can try to find the perfect one for you. You don’t even have to sit to meditate!
7. Don’t Complicate the Breathing
Some people focus on the phrase, “Concentrate on your breathing,” a bit too much, whether consciously or subconsciously. This leads to sighing and taking deep breaths that never end. It can also lead to yawns, which might compromise your posture and focus.
Instead, take one deep breath to start and then focus on your natural breathing. Your breathing cycles are always there, and you are merely focusing on them so that you can empty thoughts about your surroundings. There’s no right or wrong way to breathe, and when instructed to concentrate on your breathing, do exactly that; don’t try to change the rate of your respiration.
Here are some breathing tips for meditation:
- Count your breath cycles: To enhance your focus on breathing instead of distractions, count your breath cycles. You can repeat counting cycles within 4-10 for relaxed concentration.
- Observe your exhalation: You can use this as a symbol for letting go.
- Follow the movement of your body with each breath: Another way of harnessing focus is following the respiratory movements you can feel, i.e., your belly or nostril movements.
8. Don’t Obsess Over Your Posture
Do not focus on perfecting a position before letting your thoughts flow a bit. Whether you have perfectionistic tendencies or you just want to get a position right, don’t obsess over it more than meditating.
Instead of countlessly trying the full lotus position in a particular meditation session, use the type of position you’re used to and progress to more complex postures. For instance, you should focus on meditating with the quarter lotus position and upgrade over time to half and eventually full lotus position.
9. Always Stretch Before Meditating
Especially if preparing for complex meditation positions like the full lotus pose, you need to stretch your muscles and joints to promote flexibility and to initiate a proper posture. This also encourages better blood flow before you settle for the session.
You can follow the exercises for developing flexibility in this video:
Sitting Meditation Postures
Sitting meditation postures are the most traditional and popular positions around the globe. They follow some of the most comprehensive guidelines which help even beginners understand. So here are the common sitting meditation postures you can use:
10. The Lotus Position
The lotus position has been used in meditation practices for over ten centuries and has a plethora of benefits.
Here are the benefits of the lotus position:
- Hip opening: Stress affects parts of your body, including the hips which become tense. However, as you settle into a lotus position, which maximizes the distance between your thighs, you release the tension and open up your hips.
- Deeply stretches knees and ankles: If you’ve tried the lotus position, you know how flexible your knees and ankles feel after the session.
- Keeps the spine straight: With the current generations being used to slouching as they use computers, study, or succumb to stress and fatigue, practices that straighten out the spine are encouraged.
- Relieves menstrual pain: This position alleviates pain by reducing cramping, bloating, mood swings, and fatigue that plague women every month.
- Enhances awareness, calmness, and concentration: The posture itself connects parts of our bodies in a way that keeps us aware, calm, and focused — all which are vital, especially in a highly distracted era.
- Stimulates the abdominal muscles hence improving digestion: As the abdomen becomes more flexible, bloating diminishes as the gut opens up hence enhancing digestion.
Whether you’re a beginner meditator or you’ve been practicing for a while, consider using a lotus position from time to time. You will receive the benefits of grounding yourself and connecting with full awareness.
11. The Burmese Position
Also known as the “easy” pose, the Burmese position is one of the most straightforward meditation postures that you can learn.
Here’s how you can settle in the Burmese position:
- Sit and bend your legs at the knee, placing them flat, each facing the knee of the opposite leg.
- Ensure that the knees are flat on the ground as well, so you should sit on a raised platform like a cushion or block.
- Aim your feet in the middle of your pose, resting them right in front of your groin. This helps you stay alert since you’re completely stretched.
- Assume you’re hanging from the ceiling and stretch your back.
- Relax your shoulders and face your palms upward, placing them on each other.
- Touch your thumbs comfortably so that you can keep yourself grounded.
You can put your hands straight in any way you like, but the above method helps you keep a straight back and everything in place for the most effective Burmese position. Also, you should know that no particular leg has to stay in front of the other—experiment by switching the leg positions to maintain flexibility and find the most comfortable of the two.
You can check out how to sit in Burmese position in this video:
12. Chair Sitting
The chair sitting meditation posture is simple and can be done anywhere as long as you have a chair. To meditate in this type of meditation posture:
- Sit with your back straight and put your legs flat on the ground.
- Ensure that the knees are at a 90-degree angle — If you can’t attain that while seated at the back of the chair, you can move to sit on the edge.
The goal here is to rest your feet flat on the ground from a raised position while maintaining right angles around the knees and waist.
Here’s a demonstration on how to meditate while sitting on a chair:
Other Meditation Postures
Some people don’t like meditating while they sit, and it’s commonly because of one reason: pain. If you have arthritis, for instance, it’s best to start with meditation postures that don’t cause additional pain so you can focus on the meditating itself. Here are sitting alternatives you can choose from:
Also known as Zhan Zhuang, standing meditation is tremendously beneficial to the body and mind. It was popularized by Chinese martial masters for enhancing awareness and providing physical fitness.
Here’s how to do standing meditation:
- Take your shoes off.
- Stand straight – ensure your feet are parallel to your shoulders.
- Evenly spread your body weight on your feet by stretching your toes as much as you can.
- Stand up straight so the spine can stay upright and elongated.
- Look forward and keep your head straight.
- Gently place your tongue against the palate behind your top front teeth.
- Hold your left hand in your right hand, and gently place it against your belly.
With this standing meditation, you can feel your breathing with your hands and cultivate a serene environment within meditation.
Check out the perks of standing meditation:
- Improves core strength
- Enhances balance
- Promotes the increase of bone density
- Cultivates awareness
- Ensures full-body alignment
If you sit a lot during your daily job, when commuting to home among other daily practices, you should try standing meditation. It not only helps you maintain calm but also adds some fitness to it.
Some people prefer kneeling to all meditation postures. This is common in eastern cultures, but anyone who wishes to strengthen their core would benefit from this posture.
Although the main focus is to align the body and achieve stillness properly, many people don’t kneel entirely. It can be tiring to carry out long meditation sessions while kneeling, so they sought out an alternative: kneeling while supporting the buttocks. This posture is called the seiza pose.
The Seiza Pose
The seiza pose originates from Japan, where seiza is a common way of sitting. The Japanese can sit in seiza when taking tea, throughout a meeting, and when having dinner, among other scenarios. To the Japanese, it’s a polite way of sitting and a great position to meditate.
Here’s how to carry out the seiza pose:
- Kneel, settling your buttocks on your feet.
- Straighten your back and incline your head slightly.
Settling to this position isn’t hard, but the pain that can become overwhelming.
However, you can use a seiza bench for sitting comfortably while kneeling. This adjustable seiza bench is incredible for meditation since you can set the most comfortable height for you. After much practice, the seiza pose becomes tolerable, and you can meditate for even half an hour without overbearing pain. But why use this position if it’s so painful?
Here are the benefits of the seiza pose:
- It trains your core muscles.
- Helps cultivate a good posture.
- Enhances blood circulation.
- Helps offset bowed legs.
- Calms the heart and mind.
- Alleviates lower back pain
Here’s a visual presentation of how to make it to the seiza pose:
15. Lying Down
Although traditional meditation practices don’t typically involve lying, it’s a viable option as well. Furthermore, it’s bearable for those who may have pain problems like arthritis.
To ensure alertness and focus during meditation, you can use these lying down postures:
- Feet flat on the floor, knees stretched to hip size, and hands stretched to the side.
- Feet flat on the floor, knees stretched to hip size, one hand stretched to the side, and the other standing on the elbow at a right angle.
- Feet flat on the floor, knees stretched to hip size, hands on the belly, fingers interlocked, and the thumbs touching each other.
Walking meditation is also practical, and with benefits that go beyond the mind. Especially if you’ve mastered meditation while keeping still, you need to shake things up a little bit by doing walking meditation. It helps you stay flexible so you can meditate anywhere at any time, no matter what’s going on around you.
To succeed in walking meditation:
- Shut out external noise and focus on consistent things like your breath or the sounds of your feet as you walk.
- Balance your head and keep it slightly inclined.
It’s normal for your mind to wander, just like it will in serene environments while you’re still. So, keep redirecting your mind to where you want it to be until your meditation session is over.
The best place to perform walking meditation is in natural environments since you can incorporate the soothing aspects of nature into the practice.
Meditation postures are plentiful, so there is something for everyone. Therefore, avoid the urge to reinvent the wheel, adding unnecessary and possibly harmful aspects to the traditional postures. Focus on the tried and tested moves outlined above and follow the tips to attain successful meditation every time.
Remember, meditation does not begin and end with sitting, so try multiple meditation postures and find the one that is right for you!