Your meditation position may be able to influence your meditation experience. By experimenting with a variety of methods, you can find what meditation techniques work best for you and allow you to receive the most positive results. A common challenge is finding the most effective yet comfortable meditation posture.
Traditional meditation positions are believed to support our internal energy system, otherwise known as our prana.
Some meditation positions, such as lotus pose, require a high level of flexibility in the hips; however, there are variations to help you work toward this posture.
Mudras, or hand positions, can also be integrated into your meditation posture to elevate your practice.
Make sure your meditation position is comfortable. Don't force your body into a posture, and be aware of any discomfort, especially in your hips, knees, and ankles.
This article will explore the benefits of traditional seated meditation poses, as well as alternative options to ensure you can find a comfortable and beneficial position for your personal meditation practice.
What is the best position for meditation?
Developing a short daily meditation practice is proven to improve your memory, attention, and mood, as well as promote your general well-being. Finding the right meditation position may help you to keep up this daily habit.
There are many benefits to the traditional seated postures. However, it is also possible to access a meditative state of mind in other positions, including lying down and even walking.
The best position for meditation is one you are able to hold without discomfort and remain focused but relaxed, which will vary from person to person.
Instructions in early meditation manuals direct the practitioner to sit in various crossed-legged or kneeling positions. Traditionally, a seated position with a straight spine is advised for meditation.
From an energetic perspective, this is believed to allow pranic energy to rise from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Prana is described as universal energy and life force. In yogic traditions, it is said to influence all movement and permeate all matter.
From a physiological perspective, ensuring a straight spine during meditation encourages alertness and focus.
Can you meditate while lying down?
It is possible to meditate while lying down, though it is often discouraged due to how easy it can be to fall asleep in this position. If you are feeling tired, avoid a lying down position for your meditation and opt for a seated pose, which may help revive you.
To reduce stress, a short lying down meditation may be beneficial. A guided meditation can also work well when lying down, allowing you to stay focused on the meditation instructions while relaxing your body.
Instructions for meditation poses:
Below are instructions for the most common seated meditation poses, including their specific benefits. It is important to follow the instructions with caution and not push your body into a position that is uncomfortable.
Easy pose (Sukhasana)
- Sit on the ground.
- Bend one knee and place your foot underneath the opposite thigh.
- Bend the other knee, placing your foot underneath the other thigh.
- Allow the knees to rest on the feet.
Variation. Despite its name, an easy pose is not always easy for everyone, especially those with tight hips or knee problems. If it is challenging to sit in this posture with a straight spine, try raising the hips on a cushion or yoga blocks. If the knees are not able to rest on the feet, use cushions or rolled-up blankets to support under the thighs.
Benefits. Easy pose encourages an opening of the hips and can help prepare the body for more advanced seated meditation postures.
Half lotus pose (Ardha Padmasana)
- Sit on the ground, bend one knee and place the sole of the foot to the inside of the opposite thigh.
- Bend the other knee, placing your foot on top of the other thigh.
- As long as there is no discomfort in the knees, attempt to place the top foot as close as possible to your abdomen.
- You can alternate which foot is placed on top.
Benefits. Half lotus posture is a progression from easy pose and will further open the hips. This posture will allow you to work toward the full lotus pose.
Lotus pose (Padmasana)
Lotus pose is the classical meditation position. There are numerous representations of the lotus pose in ancient and modern sources of yoga and meditation.
- Sit on the floor with both legs extended.
- Bend one knee and place the outside edge of your foot into the hip crease of your opposite leg.
- Repeat with the other foot.
Benefits. When easily accessible and comfortable, the lotus pose can be held for long durations due to its ability to naturally hold the body upright and encourage a still but alert mind state. The position of the legs redirects the blood flow to the abdominal organs, promoting digestion. The lotus pose is also said to activate the chakras, encouraging the flow of energy/prana from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Energetically, the lotus pose creates a pranic circuit in the body, allowing energy to circulate with ease.
Caution. This posture should be attempted carefully, paying extra attention to any discomfort in the knees. It is not advisable to use this position while pregnant due to potential blood flow restriction in the legs.
Thunderbolt pose (Vajrasana)
The thunderbolt pose is usually more accessible for those who struggle with the poses above due to tightness in the hips.
- Kneel on the floor.
- Keep the knees close together and the toes touching.
- Allowing the heels to separate as you sit on your feet.
- Rest your hands on your thighs and lengthen the spine.
Variation. Due to blood restriction in the legs, some people find it difficult to sit comfortably in thunderbolt pose for very long. Try placing a block or small cushion between the lower legs so the feet are separated and sitting on the block/cushion.
Benefits. The thunderbolt pose allows you to access a straight spine without the need for open hips. It directs the blood flow to the pelvic area, strengthening the pelvic muscles. It is said to stimulate prana and redirect sexual energy to be used for spiritual purposes.
How to position your hands while meditating
The way that your hands are placed while you are in your meditation pose may also contribute to your meditation experience. Yoga traditions teach that mudras (hand positions), such as gyan mudra, can be used to direct the flow of prana within your body and around you.
Gyan mudra. Touch the index fingers to the thumbs and rest the back of the hands on the knees or thighs. Gyan mudra is said to complete the pranic circuit, allowing energy to continuously circle the body.
Palms facing up/down. Simply resting the palms on the knees facing up or down can redirect the flow of energy. Having the palms facing up can encourage a drawing-in of external energy. Use this position if you are inviting in uplifting energy and looking to stimulate the nervous system. Facing the palms down can enclose your energy — use this position to relax the nervous system and ground yourself.
Palms resting on top of one another. Place one palm on top of the other facing upward, with the tips of the thumbs touching, allowing them to rest on your lap. Use this mudra for a sense of calm and concentration.
Allow yourself to experiment with the different meditation positions and mudras and notice how the varying methods may change your experience of meditation.
Overall, there is no wrong or right position to meditate in, but these time-tested postures may hold some wisdom to access focus and a deep state of peace. If you are looking to develop your meditation practice, try out the seated positions and mudras described above and see how they contribute to your experience.
How long is it safe to meditate in these poses?
It is common to find these seated postures uncomfortable to sit in for long periods of time, but with practice, you will be able to hold them for longer. For beginners, it is advised to start with 10–20 minutes. If at any point the posture becomes uncomfortable in the hips, knees, or ankles, gently move yourself and ensure that there is sufficient circulation in the legs.
What if none of these positions are comfortable for me?
The postures described in this article are based on classical yoga and meditation teachings. However, it is possible to experience a meditative state without using any of these seated postures. If none of the poses described above are comfortable for you, you can meditate while seated on a chair or when lying down, or you can even try a walking meditation.
How can I take my meditation practice further?
To further develop your meditation practice, you may consider exploring techniques such as mantra, breathing exercises (pranayama), and visualization.