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Why Meditation Position Matters
When it comes to starting a meditation practice, the first hurdle is often deciding on the best position.
Many people new to meditating find themselves panicking when it comes to their position, realising that any seated position can become uncomfortable if held for a long period of time!
The position you choose to meditate in is very important, as sitting uncomfortably or feeling fidgety can detract from the meditation itself.
You may lose the benefits that come from a regular practice, and just a few minutes spent meditating in an awkward position can leave you stiff and sore.
Why is Posture Important?
Meditating can be hard enough without physical discomfort, and if you’re struggling to focus on anything but painful niggles in your body, you’re not going to be able to make the most of your practice.
If you can’t relax, you’ll end the meditation feeling anxious instead of refreshed and revitalised.
Many people believe that the most relaxing and comfortable position is best for meditation, and this is partly true. But while listening to a sleep meditation tucked up in bed with a blanket is perfectly fine, a revitalising morning meditation is best practiced sitting up instead of lying down.
If you are too comfortable, you may find yourself drifting off to sleep. While this isn’t a problem last thing at night, it certainly is first thing in the morning!
So, your meditation position needs to strike a balance between relaxation and awareness. You should be comfortable enough that you aren’t stiff or sore, but alert enough that you’re not softly snoring within a few minutes!
The Best Position
The best meditation position can vary from person to person. Some people aren’t flexible enough to sit cross-legged, and this is absolutely fine.
If any body part is sore, it’s probably not the correct position for you! While sitting in the Lotus position definitely looks the most traditionally ‘meditative’, this position is too much for the vast majority of people just starting out.
For most people, a straight back and the ability to breathe fully and deeply are all that’s needed from a meditation posture. There’s a few different positions that allow you space to breathe while also keeping you alert and aware during your practice.
Lying down to meditate is extremely relaxing, and many people find it the comfiest position of all. Your body is supported by the earth, leading to feelings of grounding and reassurance. Lying down can help ease anxiety, as physical stability will help to stabilise the mind.
Mindfulness meditation and sleep meditations both lend themselves beautifully to a lying down posture. When practising mindfulness, it can help to feel the earth underneath you and allow your gaze to soften towards the ceiling or sky.
Mindfulness meditation requires some awareness, which is why we’d recommend lying down on a yoga mat or blanket, with a cushion underneath your head if needed.
Sleep meditations allow you to drift off whenever you’re ready, so tucking yourself up in bed underneath your duvet will help.
Sitting in a Chair
Many people choose to meditate sitting in a chair. Place your feet firmly on the floor, aligned with your hips and knees, and try not to rest your back against the chair.
Sit upright and allow your spine to elongate. Ensure the chair is the right height so that your hips and knees make 90 degree angles.
Sitting in a chair to meditate is accessible for most people, and it allows you to sneak in a quick practice at your desk or commuting to work.
It’s easier to maintain your position when sitting in a chair, as the back of the chair will remind you when you start to slouch!
A standing meditation isn’t for the faint-hearted, but it has a range of benefits. Standing postures can increase vitality, internal strength and lead to feelings of empowerment.
In ancient tradition, standing meditation was thought to cure diseases and help with injuries while also bringing about a range of psychological benefits.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your spine elongated. Your heels should be turned slightly inwards, with your toes pointing just slightly away from each other.
Gently bend your knees and try to feel your body rooting down into the earth. Lift through the crown of the head with every exhale.
Standing meditations can be tiring on the body, so we recommend starting with a shorter meditation if you are new to this position.
Sitting on the floor
If you want to adopt the traditional position of sitting crossed-legged on the floor, then that’s great too. Either use a mediation cushion, pillow, yoga mat, or you can even sit on a folded blanket if that’s all you can find.
Make sure that whatever you are sitting on your hips slightly more elevated than your knees. You also might want to think about putting something soft under your feet or ankles if you’re sitting on a hard floor.
If you want to sit on the floor but still find it hard to sit upright, just move your cushion over to a wall and use that to support you.
The only thing you really have to keep in mind is that your back is straight and relaxed, your and neck are head are aligned and that you can breathe easily.
Meditation Hand Positions
What They Mean and Why They’re Important
One of the primary aims of a mindfulness meditation practice is to become fully aware of your own body, including your hands. Unfortunately, once we become aware of a certain body part, we often realise that we have no idea what we should be doing with it!
In both meditation and yoga, various hand positions are used. These are referred to as the mudras.
What are the Mudras?
The word ‘mudra’ refers to a symbolic gesture, with ‘hasta mudras’ the gestures of the hands and fingers. They are often used in meditation and yoga to enhance your practice and increase the flow of energy around your body.
The position of our hands can influence the energy flowing throughout our physical, mental and spiritual body, and they can also be deeply soothing.
It’s believed that there are 399 mudras, each with its own unique effect on the body. The vast majority can bring about various health benefits and help cure imbalances in the body.
The 9 Most Common Mudras
Prana Mudra involves bringing your hands to your sides and touching the tips of your ring finger and little finger to your thumb. This position symbolises energy, and can help move revitalising energy through the body.
Prana Mudra is often thought of as the most powerful mudra, and is said to improve eyesight, immunity, vitamin deficiency and energy levels.
Use Prana Mudra if you need a little boost!
Gyan Mudra is one of the most well-known hand positions. Bring the tip of your thumb and index finger together on both hands, keeping your other fingers outstretched.
The Gyan Mudra is used to direct energy and maintain focus. It’s commonly associated with wisdom and knowledge, but it’s also been said to ease tension and depression.
This mudra is calming and grounding, as it stimulates the root chakra – the chakra responsible for safety and security.
Surya Mudra represents the energy that comes from sunlight or fire. Bend both ring fingers and place them at the base of your thumb. Apply a gentle pressure with each thumb on your ring finger and hold.
The Surya Mudra aims to redirect the energy of the sun, and is thought to enhance the functioning of the abdominal organs. It’s regularly thought of as the ‘weight loss’ mudra, and it’s also thought to help improve eyesight.
The Flying Lotus Mudra
The Flying Lotus Mudra opens your heart chakra and is practiced for joy, compassion and love. Press your thumbs, index and middle fingers against each other, then link your remaining fingers together.
The Lotus Mudra can bring about feelings of grounding and positivity. It can help to drain misunderstanding, release tension and help you to see the beauty in the world and those around you.
If you are feeling negative or irritable, the Flying Lotus Mudra can be exceptionally soothing.
Vayu Mudra is the mudra of air. Simply fold each index finger to the base of your thumbs, then apply a gentle pressure on top of your fingers with each thumb.
Extend the rest of your fingers. This hand position is thought to help overcome a range of physical issues and recover peace of mind.
The Vaya Mudra can regulate the air element within your body, relieving you of chest pains and easing the symptoms of various respiratory issues.
Many people believe it can ease digestion, help with weight loss and improve the immune system.
The Shield of Shambhala
The Shield of Shambhala is a powerful hand position that will bring about feelings of peace and vitality.
Females should clench their right hand into a fist and press it against the open upward-facing palm of their left hand.
Males should do the same the opposite way.
Those going through hard times can find the Shield of Shambhala Mudra deeply calming.
Even in the most difficult of times, this hand position can bring peace to those who practice it, as it can help protect you from negative energy and vulnerability.
Shunya Mudra is a gesture of emptiness or space. This mudra controls the space in your body, helping to treat imbalances and even prevent motion sickness.
Fold each middle finger down towards the thumb, and apply a gentle pressure on top with your thumb.
Extend the other fingers.
This hand position can help with hearing troubles, circulation, and even improve willpower.
Many people who struggle with hormone imbalances can benefit from practicing this mudra, and it can also help to ease mental stress.
Apan Mudra is said to improve organ function and can help regulate hormones.
The top of the thumb touches the top of both your middle and ring fingers. Extend your index and pinky fingers.
The Apan Mudra can help with a huge range of organ and hormone-related difficulty. It’s benefits include boosting intestinal health, relieving indigestion, regulating menstrual cycles and strengthening pelvic organs.
For this reason, it’s a great option for pregnant women, and many people believe it can help enable an easier childbirth.
Finally, there is Prithvi Mudra, said to improve strength, stability and self confidence. Bring each ring finger to touch the tip of each thumb, and extend the remaining fingers.
The benefits of this hand position are seemingly endless!
Prithvi Mudra is thought to eradicate chronic weakness, build stamina, and boost spiritual stability. It’s also thought to help with hair growth.
Those struggling with burn out or exhaustion can benefit hugely from practising Prithvi Mudra.
When it comes to meditation positions, there is a lot to think about! While it may seem complex and confusing, there are really just a few basic principles to follow.
As long as you have your back straight and are able to breathe fully and deeply, whichever position is most comfortable for you is absolutely perfect.
- The right meditation position will enhance your practice instead of hindering it. Meditating is difficult enough without the added stress of physical discomfort!
- The right position for you will depend on your own body, your mood, and the type of meditation you are practicing.
- Lying down to meditate is a great option if you are wanting to drift off. Mindfulness or sleep meditations are best suited to a lying down posture; on the floor, sofa, or even your bed.
- Sitting in a chair to meditate is accessible to most people. Just ensure your back is straight, your neck aligned and your hips and knees are 90 degrees. Try to resist leaning against the back of the chair.
- A standing meditation poses a different challenge. These are great for building both mental and physical strength, although it’s best to start with a shorter session, as a standing meditation can put a lot of stress on the body.
- In both meditation and yoga, hand positions known as ‘mudras’ are used to help enhance the practice and improve the flow of energy.
- Each mudra has its own unique set of benefits, as each one targets a different chakra or type of energy.
- Most of the mudras are very easy to practice, complementing a wide range of guided meditation practices.
- Slowly working your way through the various hand positions can lead to a huge range of mental, physical and spiritual benefits.