Whether you know it or not, yoga is designed to prepare your body to meditate. This means that sitting is a big part of it as well. What often is missed though by a lot of yoga teachers is: how do you sit properly in meditation?
We often take it for granted as yoga shapes our body to make ourselves comfortable going into meditation. However, for those who are starting with yoga, it might be a struggle in the beginning.
Therefore, I’ve created this guide on how to sit in meditation. As there should always be a little meditation involved at the beginning of each yoga class. Just to make sure that you get your breath aligned and to be conscious about the movements you’ll be performing.
Let’s have a little look.
Why is Sitting Properly in Meditation Important?
There are actually a couple of reasons why sitting properly is so important.
The first part is just for your comfort. You don’t want to be in agonizing pain when you are in meditation.
Although, if you are able to transcend this pain, you might reach nirvana.
Anyway, as a beginner, or even as an intermediate, it’s not going to be nice to have pain while you meditate. So, best to make sure that you’ll be able to sit in meditation pain-free(-ish).
The second reason is out of spiritual and energetically principles. The moment you cross your legs, you are blocking your energy. Often referred to as chi.
Not just that, but it can give you leg cramps as well if you decide to sit like that for a long time.
There are easy tricks and tips though that will prevent this! Let’s get down to business!
How To Sit Properly in Meditation?
I had many teachers before and I’ve heard of many ways to go into meditation properly.
One way that I really liked was coming from a Buddhist story. The apprentice asked his teacher how to sit, as he was experiencing some issues. The teacher said that you have to sit with a straight back in such a position that it’s like you’re a puppet with strings hanging on the ceiling.
Whenever you are going into meditation, you can start visualizing a little piece of string attached from the crown to your head, all the way to the ceiling.
And to even go a bit deeper into the story. This string is to make sure that you keep your body relaxed. If you visualize this strand, you make sure that you don’t tighten your muscles. Which often happens the very first times we go into meditation.
Raising Your Hips
What you also can do, and this is I’d really advise everyone to do basically, is to raise your hips.
You can do this by putting a meditation cushion under your buttocks, or a block or just a normal pillow. You have to find what’s comfortable for you.
Doing this trick has two advantages.
First, you won’t put your hips and tailbone into a locked position. You can move your sacrum and this means that you can regulate it to fit your need. As the tailbone is connected to the spine, you’ll be able to move your spine a little to make sure you’re comfortable.
And secondly, by raising your hips in a cross-legged position you won’t be blocking your chi that much.
Even I often still raise my hips if I plan to go into a long meditation.
Easy Pose (Burmese Style)
Most yoga teachers will see the cross-legged position and Easy Pose as their go-to when teaching.
Alright, you also have poses like lotus in which you can meditate. But it’s always easier to explain something that addresses a bigger audience.
So, if you are one of those persons that are able to go into Lotus, just go for it in your moment of meditation.
For those who can’t, don’t be alarmed. Lotus is a very difficult pose and it also requires the right body posture as well.
And we will have a look at Easy Pose, there goes my drifting mind again.
For Easy Pose, a lot of people just describe it as ‘just sit in a comfortable position’. Which is basically what you are trying to do of course. If you don’t have the information on how to sit comfortably, that’s going to be another thing then.
How I always explain Easy Pose is that it’s different than a cross-legged position. You actually put one leg in front of the other.
And if you’ve read the bit on top here, you’ll know that this way you can keep your energy flowing. And you also reduce the risk of numbing your legs.
For this, I’d also like to advise you to raise your hips for the same purpose as I’ve mentioned already.
Mainly, what you’d like to accomplish is your knees, shins, and arch of the feet on the mat.
And the toes of the inner foot, should come into the thigh of the other foot.
Here are a couple of pictures to make it a bit clearer for you.
As you can see here, these two people are seated in Easy Pose. Even though I mentioned that arch and everything else should reach the floor, how they are seated is quite correct.
Mastering this position comes with time, and if they had been seated on a block, they probably could’ve sat more comfortably (yes, even more).
Half Lotus Pose
I know, I’ve said that Lotus might not be a great position. But Half-Lotus is different. Within this position, you’ll be only putting one foot on top of your other leg.
This means that you’ll still have space to move.
It’s not that I’m against Lotus, and according to a lot of scriptures, it has a lot of benefits. I’d just rather look at it as an (advanced) asana, rather than a meditation position.
The Half-Lotus on the other hand doesn’t put you in a complete energy lock.
What you do with this position is that you put the arch of the foot on top of the knee of your opposite leg.
And it’s quite nice as most people will have a small cavity on the side of their knee where your foot just fits perfectly!
In this position, I wouldn’t generally recommend you raising your hips by sitting on a block. You can use a small pillow for comfortability.