Occasionally, students will ask what’s the best way to sit during meditation. There are quite a few options!
Let’s examine 3 great meditative seats that can help your practice and your posture. If you’re newer to meditation, read this blog about establishing a practice (Don’t be intimidated! It doesn’t take that much time!)
Each of these postures encourage an upright spine, helping the breath flow deeply and the mind remain alert. They’re also excellent seats for practicing pranayama (breath control exercises).
Sukha means easy, comfortable, and happy. Therefore, sukhasana is easy, comfortable, happy seat. Ideally, this seat should feel like its namesake!
I recommend sitting on a folded blanket or meditation cushion for greater lower back support.
- Sit on blanket/cushion with legs straight and slightly spread.
- Gentle bend one knee, then the other, crossing legs at shins, just above ankles.
- Position feet so they’re under their opposite thigh. Ideally, the toes are entirely hidden under legs.
- Draw the seat muscles back with hands and even out across the left and right side of the body.
- Lengthen the spine, broaden chest, and allow palms to rest in the lap, or in a mudra of your choice (LINK to http://wholelivingdaily.wholeliving.com/2011/04/hasta-mudras-part-i-yoga-on-and-off-the-mat.html).
1. Supported Virasana
Virasana helps maintain such an upright spine and open front body that it’s one of the 2 poses recommended to practice after eating. (The other is vajrasana, or thunderbolt pose.)
The word vira means hero or warrior. This posture is not only used for meditation in the yogic tradition, but also in Buddhism and Islam. If practiced properly, it’s very beneficial for the knees.
For this version, have a yoga block or folder blanks.
- Sit on the shins and then place block/blanket under the seat (my preference is have the block parallel with the sitting bones). Keeping the inner thighs together, bring each heel to rest outside its respective hip.
- Even out across the sitting bones/ make any other adjustments to find symmetry between the right and left sides of the body.
- Make sure that the tops of the feet are on the floor, middle toe in line with center knee on each side.
- Sit up tall and allow the palms to rest face down on the tops of the thighs, or in any other mudra.
1. Ardha Padmasana
Ardha padmasana means half-lotus pose. This is the preparatory stance for full lotus, which is considered one of the greatest meditative seats. While full lotus is an amazing posture, it can be challenging to get into and contradictory for those with even minor knee injuries.
The half-version is a great starting point! You can also practice on a blanket or meditation cushion.
- Sit with the legs extended and slightly apart.
- Bend one leg, bringing the foot to the inner edge of the opposite thigh.
- Bend the second leg and cross the ankle over the bottom shin. Without strain, bring the foot as high up towards the pubic bone as possible.
- Sit up tall and bring the hands to rest in any mudra of your choice.
Good luck sitting!
Sophie Herbert is an alignment focused yoga teacher (and perpetual student), a singer-songwriter, and a visual artist. She has lived, studied, and volunteered extensively in India; teaches yoga in Brooklyn and Manhattan; and recently released her first full-length album, "Take a Clear Look." Please visit her website at SophieHerbert.com.