Meditation Poses: How To Sit Well During Meditation

Various meditation poses – Posture while meditating

People have been meditating for several thousand years using different meditation poses. That is quite a long time to deal with this practice. Buddhism has always recognized that mind and body are connected and influence one another. The meditation seat therefore plays an essential role.

Over the years, certain meditation postures or meditation positions have become established that help to achieve harmony between body and mind. However, these poses are only intended as an aid. Meditation does not mean sitting in the lotus position right away.

Meditation is a state of mind. It can be practiced anywhere and in any posture. However, some postures have prevailed over others over the years. They have a higher promise of success. You should therefore at least try them out.

What to look for in meditation poses

The sense of posture in meditation can be divided into 3 areas:

A stable body feeling
Physical rest

A stable body feeling

The stable body feeling allows you to turn your mind away from thoughts about balance or muscular effort. Your thoughts can be fully focused on the meditation.

Physical rest

Meditation poses should embody rest and stillness. This is then reflected back on the mind, which leads to a higher power of concentration.

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The posture should be persistent. That means, even with long meditation, pain, exertion and falling asleep should be prevented.

The most important thing is an upright back with a straight spine. The head forms the extension of the spine. The whole thing shouldn’t feel cramped, but relaxed. Ideally, no active muscle tension is required to keep the back straight. The straight back should feel natural. Shoulders and arms hang down completely relaxed from the body.

Unfortunately, we have got used to a posture in everyday life that does not correspond to the back posture described above. Too often we round our backs when we relax or sit.

The goal of the posture in a meditation session should be not to change the meditation position for the entire duration of the meditation. Achieving this is not easy and initially requires strict self-discipline. Sitting upright takes practice.

Upright meditation poses and a straight posture, however, are important as they give the mind an active vigilance. As soon as the body assumes a hunched position, it gives the head relaxation and drowsiness.

What you sit on is not irrelevant either. Depending on your posture, a chair or a booster seat such as a meditation cushion may be useful. The strength of the surface should be selected in such a way that the above 3 mentioned properties remain fulfilled. Surfaces that are too soft can relax you too much (tiredness), surfaces that are too hard can be painful.

*Zen Cat Lover Yoga / Meditation Mat

Traditional meditation seat

When we as Westerners sit on the floor according to Asian tradition, we usually need a pillow that lifts our spine. Special meditation pillows are suitable for this, but also normal sofa or sleeping pillows fulfill the duty. The cushions should have a certain firmness so that they still offer at least 10 cm of elevation when compressed.

Sit on the front edge of the pillow and fold your legs together on the floor in front of you. If you’re sitting on a carpeted floor, it might be enough. With harder wood floors or tiles, you will likely need a blanket or rug to take some pressure off your ankles.

If you sit too far back on your meditation cushion, there may be too much pressure on your back thighs. The result is leg pain.

How you cross your legs is up to you individually. In the following I present different positions.

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What do I do with my legs?

The heel seat. You’re kneeling on the floor, so you’re sitting on your heels.

The cross-legged position. Your right foot is under your left knee and your left foot is tucked under your right knee.

Burmese-safe seat. Both lower legs (knee to toe) lie flat on the floor and parallel to each other, one in front of the other.

Quarter lotus position. Both knees touch the ground. One foot is placed on the other lower leg. For example, the left foot is on the right lower leg, or the right foot is on the left lower leg.

Half lotus position. Both knees touch the ground. One lower leg lies flat on the floor. The other lower leg is raised so that the foot is placed on the thigh.

Lotus position. Both knees touch the ground. The lower legs are crossed over. The right foot is on the left thigh, the left foot on the right thigh. Both soles of the feet point upwards.

Half and full lotus are the most traditional Asian meditation poses. The lotus is perceived as the best. Once you cross into this position, you can stay there for a very long time without moving. A high flexibility of the legs is a prerequisite.

Not everyone is able to take this stance. Don’t forget, an important quality of posture is freedom from pain. Choose the posture in which you can sit pain-free for the longest. With more practice comes more flexibility. Slowly feel your way from the cross-legged position in the direction of the lotus.

For all 5 leg positions, it is advisable to place your hands with the inside facing up in your lap or on your thighs. This gives the trunk better stability. The arms should be relaxed. The shoulder and neck muscles must not cramp.

*Dog Lover Yoga / Meditation Mat

The head position when meditating

Your chin is up. Your eyes can be both open and closed. If you leave them open while meditating, fix them on a point in front of you and don’t look around. Don’t look at anything in particular, just stare straight ahead.

Meditate on a chair

If you are physically unable to sit on the floor, you can meditate on a chair without any problems. It is best to choose a chair with a flat seat surface and no armrests. Sit so that your back is not against the  back rest. Stand your legs next to each other with your feet flat on the floor. Here, too, it is advisable to place your hands on your thighs with the palms facing upwards. Try not to tense your shoulders or neck. The arms should hang down relaxed from the upper body.

Meditation clothing

The clothes you wear when you meditate should feel comfortable and relaxed. Clothing shouldn’t pinch the skin or obstruct blood flow. If the legs “fall asleep” it can often be due to tight trousers that put pressure on the nerves or restrict blood flow.

Loosen your belt, take off your shoes. If you wear tight socks, take the socks off too. I meditate in loose or elastic sportswear.

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End the meditation session

When you finish your meditation session, be gentle and careful with your body. Before you get up, move your body a bit to the left and right. If you feel a slight tingling sensation in your legs, move your toes first and then loosen the joints with slow movements before standing up again.

In all meditation poses, you should always keep your real goal in mind. The aim is to achieve physical and mental calm. But you don’t want to fall asleep while doing this. You want to calm your mind enough that you can clearly perceive your thoughts.

This mental awareness can be supported by the posture. In the end, everyone has to decide for themselves what is best for themselves. Your body is a tool, it is best to experiment a bit to find the optimum for yourself.

Dear co-creators

I hope this article gives you some more insight on the different meditation poses. 


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