The positions in which I meditate have changed a lot over time. That is mostly due to my improved body flexibility led by lots of yoga practice. It hasn’t been a linear path, I was not always going forward, as my back pain has imposed some restrictions from time to time. Another reason is that I like to experiment and see for myself as one posture, compared to another, could influence my daily practice.
Before going straight to each posture there are some general rules to follow. Look at them as the fundamental: basic directions that won’t change depending on the position you choose.
The most important thing to consider is to ease for your body. Hence, to someone starting out, I always suggest using a chair or a stool as it doesn’t need lots of body elasticity. You are going to keep the same position for some time while focusing on your mind, and being uncomfortable won’t help you with that.
Your back should be relaxed yet up straight, following its natural curve. If you find it difficult or distressing, try to lean against a wall or a seat-back. Your spine should be the source of balance and stability, so no slouching permitted. To help you maintain your spine aligned, keep your chin slightly tucked.Keep your shoulder loosen up as well as your neck, arms, and hands. Slightly push your shoulder back, without forcing it, and leave the arms to hang effortlessly. If you are just starting out, I suggest you to keep your hands resting on your tight with palms down – as this will allow the energy to flow naturally throughout your body. If you feel like experimenting with hands postures, just go check the different mudras.
As a general rule, your eyes should be closed or slightly looking downward. Some meditation practices though include focusing on an object which may be intangible (as your breath or a chakra in the body) or tangible (as a candle or a little statue). I suggest you experiment and test for yourself, as this is no one size fits all situation.
I’d like to start with this one as it’s the easiest way in my opinion to approach meditation. Hopefully, this position will prevent you to quit immediately and maybe will bring to your second, third and so on session. As perseverance plays a crucial role in meditation! Start with back straight and your feet flat on the floor, they should form a 90-degree angle with your knees. I like to have just the base of my spine to touch the seat back, as my back could follow its natural curve. Furthermore, your knees should be lower than your hips: use a cushion whether this can improve your position. Learning to meditate in this way could be very helpful as you can repeat the procedures at your office, in your car or even in every waiting room.
This is one of the most used positions and can be practiced by almost anyone as it doesn’t require lots of body flexibility. Sit with your legs loosely crossed, palms down on your knees and both feet resting below the opposite thigh. You can use a zafu, or meditation cushion, to help you maintain your hips open and above the line of your knees.
As you can imagine, the quarter lotus and the half lotus are both variations of the full lotus, the quintessential meditation position. You can see the act of switching between these posture as your own personal path when your body feels ready for them. Just remember that those are physical postures and they don’t really affect the quality of your daily meditation. Practicing is the real core of meditation and you can switch posture when you feel ready.
To start sit with your legs extended, preferably on a zafu, then bend one of your knee and bring the correspondent ankle on top of the opposite thigh, with the sole of your feel faced up. After that, gently bring the other foot beneath the opposite knee.
Always remember to keep your spine straight, your chin slightly tucked and shoulder and arms relaxed.
Also called Padmasana, the full lotus posture is the one we naturally associate with meditation. Unless you are really trained, this position won’t fit so easy into your practice but, I promise, with some practice and time you’ll get there! Furthermore, the increased strength and flexibility in your legs and thighs will preserve you from other injuries when doing sports.
PLEASE NOTE: the full lotus position is a very advanced pose. If you feel pain in your knees and lower back you’ll need to slow down until it feels comfortable and right for your body. Don’t push your body if you feel pain.
Sit on the floor or on a zafu (your knees with be lower than your hips anyway, but a cushion may help if you’re just starting out). Keep your spine straight then take your right foot and gently place it on your left thigh, as close to the crease of your hip as you can. Proceed with the other foot on the opposite thigh. Be aware of correct posture as you open your chest, lengthen your spine, and gently pull your shoulders back; feel yourself relax as you sit proud, with your chin held high. The key here is to learn how to open and rotate the hip joints.
This posture comes in hand when you’re not ready for the full lotus yet. Its original name is Sukhasana aka the easy pose.
Take a sit on a meditation cushion (it may be very helpful here) and cross your legs keeping your feet laying on the floor. They should be as close as possible to your body. Your knees should also be touching the floor, but it may take some time to get there. Don’t rush and always remember to be gentle with your body. Proceed with every posture as long as you don’t feel excessive pain.
I left this at the end because it’s the most tricky posture in my opinion, but let me explain. It seems the easiest one but whether you have knees problem I recommend you not to practice with this one.
Keep your knees together and buttocks resting on ankles. Your back should be straight as always and the upturned feet should form an anatomical cushion for your body.
You can use a pillow, to keep the weight off your ankles, or a seiza bench, to maintain the weight off your feet and helps the natural curve of your spine.
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