Why your 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, as opposed to refreshed and revitalised.
Many people take the view 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 the 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 Meditation 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 right 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 is all that’s needed from a meditation posture, and there’s a few different positions which 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 the 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. Sleep meditations can lead to a restorative and better sleep, and lying in bed listening to a sleep story or guided sleep meditation is the best way to set you up for a good night’s rest.
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 matt 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.
Knowing what to do with your hands is another hurdle that comes with meditating. There’s a number of hand positions, each with a different meaning and effect on the mind and body.
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.
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. This mudra can help direct energy and maintain focus.
It’s most commonly associated with wisdom and knowledge.
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 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.
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 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.
Shunya Mudra is a gesture of emptiness or the 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.
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.
Prithvi Mudra is said to improve strength, stability and self confidence.
Bring each ring finger to touch the tip of each thumb, and extend the remaining fingers.
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.