Learning the right way to sit is an important step in building your meditation practice.
Even though lotus pose is a popular meditation posture, it can be a hindrance if you’re not flexible enough to do it the right way.
I recommend starting with something easy and familiar: sitting on a chair, kneeling, or lying down. These three options are easy to maintain for 10 or 20 minutes, especially if you’re not sure how long to meditate.
3 Best Meditation Poses for Beginners
In this post, I’ll use an educational video created by Mental Workout to show you the best way to position your body when you practice mindful breathing.
1. Sitting on a chair
Unless you’re particularly flexible, the best position is to sit comfortably on a straight-backed desk or a kitchen chair. Cushy arm chairs aren’t recommended because their contours make it hard to sit up straight. Sit toward the front of the chair with your feet planted firmly on the floor. Resist the temptation to slouch or lean in any direction: It’s best to sit with your back comfortably erect without external support. You can rest your hands on your thighs, palms up or down, or you can clasp or fold them in your lap.
Close your eyes or keep them half open, looking down just enough to allow in some light, but not enough to distract you. If you find it difficult to sit up straight, you can experiment with adding a cushion to raise your sitz bones, so your butt is slightly higher than your knees. This helps tilt the pelvis forward, encourages the natural curvature of the spine, and facilitates easy open breathing.
The key here is not too tight and not too loose. Just maintain the right amount of muscle tone to keep your body comfortably straight. If you like, you can imagine that you’re a mountain, with your base firmly rooted in the earth and your peak rising upward toward the sky.
One other sitting option is the kneeling position.
Begin by finding a cushion that works well for you. It should give you enough height that you can keep your back comfortably straight without effort or strain.
Place a cushion between your legs and sit back down. Don’t put too much pressure on your knees and if they start to hurt, best to shift to another position.
3. Lying down
If none of the sitting positions works well for you, you can meditate lying down. Just lie on your back on a soft, firm surface with your arms at your sides, and your palms facing upwards. Best to do this in the morning to avoid the temptation to fall asleep.
Whatever position you take, let your breathing be natural and gradually bring your attention to your breath.
Try Cross-Legged Position When You’re Ready
If you’re relatively flexible, you can explore sitting on the floor in the classic cross-legged position.
Cross your legs in front of you, one in front of the other on the floor. In general, when you sit for long periods of time without moving, you’ll invariably feel some discomfort. Resist the temptation to shift every time you’re uncomfortable and remain sitting in the midst of the discomfort as much as you can.
This will build up your endurance and your ability to be with uncomfortable situations in every area of your life. At the same time, if you get to the point where you’re just unbearably uncomfortable, by all means, shift your position to a more comfortable one. You don’t want to end up pushing yourself too hard and disliking your meditation practice.
Again, not too tight, not too loose. If you have difficulty touching your knees to the floor, you can put cushions under them for support. But don’t sit with your knees in the air and your back rounded, as some people do. It’s not good for your back and inhibits your breathing. Better to sit on a chair.
Video Instructions for Meditation Postures
Try each of these options and decide which one you like the most. The best meditation posture will cause you minimal physical discomfort while also helping you meditate for longer periods of time.