When people think of meditation poses, they usually imagine legs folded up like contortionists and fingers in zen-like positions. But it’s not always necessary to be sitting cross-legged in every meditation stance.
Each proper meditation pose has a different mental effect. It’s important to be comfortable – but so comfortable that you fall asleep. So if you are looking to decide whether it’s half lotus position vs full lotus, or if you should just sit on a chair, then this article is for you.
In this post, we’ll be looking at the different meditation positions, including some suitable meditation positions for beginners, how to practice them correctly, and which meditative pose is best for you.
This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Why Does Your Meditation Position Matter?
You’re probably wondering, “Why does my meditation position matter so much?”
Meditation isn’t just a mental exercise, it’s also physical. Your body’s position can greatly influence your mental state. When I sit up straight, it’s not just about maintaining good posture; it’s about creating a stable foundation for my mental explorations. It makes me alert, focused, and ready to dive into the depths of my mind.
On the other hand, when I’m slouched or lying down, I find myself drifting off or losing focus more easily. That’s not to say these positions are bad – some meditations are meant for deep relaxation, after all. But for mindfulness or concentration practices, an upright and alert position works wonders.
So next time you meditate, pay attention to your position. Is your back straight? Are you comfortable? These details matter.
The position of your body is like a subtle cue to your mind, signaling whether it’s time to focus or time to rest. Remember, meditation is a holistic practice, bridging mind and body together.
The Key To Meditation Posture?
Regardless of your chosen pose, there are a few universal focuses. Aim for a comfortable position that strikes a balance between calmness and alertness.
Without a stable, comfortable physical base, achieving mental equilibrium becomes trickier.
Traditionally, meditation is performed with closed eyes, enhancing internal focus. But if it makes you drowsy, try a soft gaze on a fixed point in front of you.
Ensure your lower back isn’t slouching or rounded. Your spine should be upright with a slight natural curve in your lower back to avoid discomfort. Visualize a string from the top of your head, gently pulling you upward.
Hand placement is flexible. Some suggest symbolic hand positions, called mudras, but any position maintaining balance is fine. Resting hands on your knees or left hand in right, palms-up in your lap, works for most.
Let your shoulders drop and draw back, opening your chest. This will help your body relax and enhance breath flow.
Slightly tuck your chin in, elongating your neck’s spine. Allow your jaw to relax.
For those of us sitting on the floor, crossing your legs might work well. But for those in a chair, keep your feet flat on the ground, parallel to each other. It provides a firm foundation and connects you to the earth.
The breath is an essential component of your meditation. Pay attention to it, but don’t force it. Let it flow naturally, observing its rhythm. This helps deepen your focus and enhances relaxation.
Remember, meditation isn’t about mastering a pose; it’s about finding a position where your body and mind can find harmony. It’s not uncommon to feel a little uncomfortable or restless initially. But with time and patience, your body will find its sweet spot.
Lastly, don’t stress about getting everything perfect on the first try. Meditation is a journey, not a destination. With every session, you’ll learn more about yourself and your needs. It’s this self-discovery that makes meditation such a rewarding practice. Just remember to stay patient with yourself and enjoy the process.
The 9 Best Meditation Positions
1. Easy Pose
In terms of the go-to meditation pose, the Easy pose is the one that feels most natural when we begin. It is what I like to call the ‘assembly’ pose and surfaces memories of school assembles and the smell of wood varnish from the floor.
The easy pose is sitting cross-legged with our calves over each foot.
Sitting on a cushion can improve your Easy pose posture, if you sit towards the front of the cushion, this should tilt your pelvis forward, which makes it easier on the back. Avoid your knees being higher than your hips.
- Feels natural to do
- Not a lot of flexibility is required
- As the legs move freely so there is less stability
- If sitting without a raised pelvis (e.g. on a cushion) can cause backache during longer meditations.
2. Quarter Lotus
In my opinion, the quarter lotus is the minimum you should go for in a cross-legged pose. Instead of sitting with soles facing out, try to turn your feet to face the sky. Then place one of your feet on the opposite calf.
- Feels natural to do
- Not a lot of flexibility is required
- Better support of the back than the easy pose
- If sitting on a hard surface, there can be a lot of pressure on the lower foot which may cause discomfort.
3. Half Lotus
The half lotus position is the next step once you feel comfortable with the quarter lotus. It’s almost identical to the quarter lotus but you raise one of your feet and rest it on the opposite thigh.
- Give more stability to the back allowing longer meditations
- Requires more hip flexibility to avoid putting pressure on the knees
4. Full Lotus
The famous full lotus position, the ultimate cross-legged position, that all beginner (and many experienced) meditators dream of. Once you have mastered the half lotus position, the next step is trying to raise the other foot onto the thigh.
- Gives you full stability of the back and forces you to have a straight spine
- Is symmetrical to allow better mind-body connection
- Requires a lot of flexibility in the hips and knees
5. Burmese Position
The Burmese pose is my personal preference when meditating. I like to do it on my favorite meditation cushion to push my pelvis slightly forward and support my lower spine. The Burmese position is sitting cross-legged with both feet facing the ground.
- Supports the back more than just sitting with your legs crossed
- Doesn’t require as much flexibility as the full lotus position
- Leaning too far forward can risk putting too much pressure on the knees
6. Chair Meditation
Sitting in a chair is not something we think of as a meditation practice. But it is a great option when you do not have the flexibility for sitting in a lotus pose or suffer from back or knee pain.
It’s also great if you work at a desk job as you can immediately start meditation at any time. To correctly sit for meditation, make sure your spine is fully supported by the back of the chair, and your feet are flat on the floor with your knees at 90 degrees. Keep your hands resting on your thighs, or upright with one hand in the other’s palm.
- Doesn’t require any flexibility
- Most of us are already sitting in a chair throughout the day
- The seated position fully supports the spine
- If you are already spending too much time sitting, this may encourage you to be more sedentary instead of active
- If you are sitting too high, or too low, it can cause tightness in the hips. Make sure when you sit, your knees are at 90 degrees.
Try this: Box Breathing on a chair
You’re most likely sitting while you are reading this, why not take one minute for a quick meditation reset?
7. Seiza Pose
This seated kneeling position originates from Japan and is popular in martial arts and tea ceremonies. This position is achieved by sitting with the tops of your feet facing the ground.
- Of the ways to sit on the floor, this has the least pressure on the hips and thighs
- Forces the back to be straight and upright
- This can be hard on the knees and ankles when sitting on a hard surface, a cushion or pillow is advised.
8. Standing Meditation Pose
Standing meditation is another pose that people do not regularly associate with meditation, but standing meditation is particularly effective for those that find themselves continually falling asleep. It is more commonly seen in Yoga poses. As well as standing, you could also try a walking meditation, both meditations come under the same umbrella of not being a sitting meditation.
- Less likely to fall asleep
- Help you feel more connected to the ground
- Can be tiring on the feet and lower back when done for long periods
9. Lying Down (Corpse)Pose
The last of our eight is the lying down pose. Lying down meditation can be done on the floor or in the comfort of your bed, but it’s important to know that meditation practice is different to sleep. When lying down, keep your palms facing upwards as this opens your chest.
- Your body is fully supported
- Promotes rest leaving you relaxed
- Good to do before you sleep
- Makes it very easy to fall asleep
Couples Meditation Positions
Meditating with a partner can deepen both your meditation experience and your relationship. Here are some additional recommended positions for practicing with a partner:
This position allows both individuals to maintain their own posture and stability while still feeling the presence and support of the other. Sit cross-legged or in any comfortable seated position, leaning your backs gently together.
Sitting across from each other, hold hands with your partner. This position encourages a direct energetic connection and can help in syncing breathing patterns.
In this position, partners sit facing each other, mirroring each other’s posture. It promotes mutual understanding and connection.
If both partners are flexible and comfortable with it, they can sit in a full or half lotus position facing each other with their knees touching. This allows for a shared physical and energetic connection.
Remember, the aim of couples meditation is not just the act of meditating, but also using the practice to connect more deeply with your partner. Experiment and find which position suits you both best and enhances your mutual meditation experience.
What to Do if the Meditation Position Hurts
Many people who start meditation soon realize that a sitting meditation position isn’t as easy as you first thought – especially those of us spending most of our working day glued to an office chair (that’s 100% me!) But there is a difference between noticing discomfort – and full-on pain.
One of the fascinating discoveries I made in meditation is how pain moves and sometimes disappears. If while you are meditating you feel an itch or some soreness in the back or neck, start by just observing it.
Part of mindfulness meditation is to observe these sensations in the body. Instead of immediately reacting to it, spend a moment observing this distraction and see if it changes. However, if the practice is causing so much discomfort and pain that you are not able to focus at all, then by all means try a different sitting position.
If you feel any discomfort while meditating, try not to react to it immediately. Observe it first to see if it moves or fades. If it is stopping you from finding calm and focus, then change your posture.
Tips to help with meditation posture
Before we go through the list of meditation poses, it’s important to keep in mind the following points to get the best out of your meditation:
The focus should be on maintaining a tall spine and an open chest. Try not to lean either forwards or backward.
The meditation posture you choose depends on the situation. If you are tired or prone to falling asleep, you might choose the standing meditation, or you may wish to work up to the full lotus pose.
You don’t have to keep using the same posture. I sometimes meditate while standing on the train to work, and I will have a short sitting meditation before a big meeting, and then try a lying meditation before I sleep. The important thing is that you focus on the present.
Which is your favorite meditation posture? Let me know in the comments.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be construed as professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms of any mental health condition, we strongly advise consulting with a qualified healthcare professional.