Greetings and thank you for your wonderful website. I had a question in regards to meditation posture. I meditate daily and I understand that when meditating in a chair for instance I should sit forward a little in the chair so my back isn't pressed up against it. Should I maintain this posture even while just casually sitting?
—Theo, United states
We are glad to hear that you are enjoying our website and that you are meditating daily. Keep it up!
Yes, it is fine to sit in a chair for meditation. The chair should be steady and straight-backed if possible. Sit forward in the chair so that both feet are flat on the floor. If your feet do not touch the floor, get a shorter chair or place a pillow or two under your feet to raise them, so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Do not lean back, against the back of the chair. The idea is to sit with an upright, un-supported spine, with your chin parallel with the floor and your head steady and aligned with your upright back.
If you are not used to sitting this way, or if you have weak neck/back muscles or injuries, there are ways to overcome these challenges. Get a firm pillow of some sort (the crescent shaped ones are very good for this) and put it between your back and the back of the chair.The feeling you want is that of support (especially lumbar support), but not be leaning into it. Move the pillow around until you achieve this feeling.
If you want to place a pillow in the seat of the chair, to cushion a too-hard surface, that is fine. As you continue meditating, your back muscles will strengthen gradually. A few yoga stretches before meditation will also stretch strengthen your back muscles, and help decrease any pain or tension you feel in your back, with time and regular practice. Also, be sure to position your hands and chest correctly. Your hands should be placed at the juncture of your thighs and abdomen, with the palms of your hands upward. Draw your shoulders blades together, giving yourself the feeling of opening your heart chakra. If this feels awkward at first, place another pillow or folded towel in your lap to make a “nest” for your hands to rest on.
Yogananda does suggest maintaining a tall spine and good posture as much as possible. But no, you don’t have to sit in a meditative pose, when sitting casually, unless you come to find that you feel most comfortable sitting that way.