Video and Audio

How to Sit Comfortably for Meditation

Nayaswami Anandi
September 11, 2014

When you are sitting comfortably in meditation your energy is freed up to focus on more subtle realms of consciousness. Learn various ways you can enhance your comfort for meditation by watching this video.


Nayaswami Anandi

Hello, I'm Nayaswami Anandi. I'm here today to show you some ways that you can sit more comfortably for your meditation. When you're not comfortable sitting in meditation, it's a lot harder to relax and bring your mind inward.

Three Basic Ways of Sitting in Meditation

So our goal today is to show you some ways that you can have your spine upright and yet the body be so relaxed and comfortable that you can just forget all about it. We'll look at three basic ways of sitting comfortably.

Meditating Cross-Legged

Our first position is sitting cross-legged on the floor. This is my friend Phouvang. And you can see that when Phouvang sits on the floor unaided, her back begins to sag at the bottom of the hips and goes all the way up to the top. Her pelvis is tilted backward.

So what we're going to do to solve that is give her some height under her hips. This tips the pelvis forward and makes it very easy to hold the spine upright. Phouvang has her hands palms upright close to the trunk of the body. This also helps to elongate her spine.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor is a wonderful pose for feeling very stable and grounded in your meditation. The disadvantage is that many people find their knees begin to hurt or their hips begin to hurt. So we're going to show you now a second way of sitting on the floor.

Meditating with a Kneeling Bench

The second way of sitting on the floor is on a kneeling bench. The kneeling bench offers the advantage of the stability of the floor and the tip to the pelvis that helps to make holding the back upright very easy.

One disadvantage that people sometimes find, is that it's hard on the ankles having the ankles flat on the floor. So I'd like to show you a way that you can offer some support to the ankles. You put a rolled-up towel underneath the ankles to offer support.

One other thing that's helpful for a person on a kneeling bench is for them to have a blanket or a pillow on which to rest their hands. Having the blanket there as support for the hands helps to take pressure off the back and the shoulders.

Meditating on a Chair

When Yogananda came to this country in the 1920s, he realized that most Americans were not at all prepared to sit on the floor, whether cross-legged or on a kneeling bench. And so he highly recommended that people do their meditation in a chair. And that's what we'll show you next.

The third post we're going to look at is sitting in a chair. For many people, that's all they need to do to feel perfectly comfortable. But I'm going to show you just a few other things you can do to help yourself feel a little bit more comfortable.

The first thing we'll do is we'll look at the thighs and the angle of the thighs and the floor. We want the thighs parallel to the floor.

You can see that Phouvang's knees are a little lower than her hips. This means that the chair is too tall for her. So in order to correct that, I'm going to get some blankets and put them under her feet. Having her thighs parallel to the floor as they are now actually relieves pressure in her low back.

The next thing we'll look at is adding a little bit of height under her hips in order to give a little bit of the forward tilt to the pelvis, as we looked at in the other poses. That forward tilt to the pelvis makes it a lot easier for her to hold her spine upright.

And then there's one more thing that I like to often add—I use it myself—is adding pressure to the low part of the spine. (Here Anandi adds a rolled-up pillow and placed it between the low back and the chair.) The pressure at the base of the spine stops the pelvis from sagging backward and makes it very easy to hold the upper body upright.

Then there's one final tip that's very fun. Sometimes people find that they have pain in their upper back or their shoulders, and it's almost a magical solution to give them some height underneath their palms.

As you can see, Phouvang has her palms resting a bride in her lap close to the trunk, which is a good position. But just to take a little pressure off her shoulders and back, I'm going to put a blanket there.

(Anandi adds a blanket under the palms, lifting the palms up slightly off the legs. Phouvang rolled the blanket up to adjust the height of the blanket.) This is surprising in how much it allows the spine to relax.

A Final Note on Finding Comfortable Positions in Meditation

So you have here many different types of props. As you meditate more, your spine will get stronger, and your needs may change. So just experiment wherever you have discomfort. Try some of these ideas and see if they can help you. You'll find that when your body is comfortable and relaxed, you'll enjoy your meditation much more.

May your meditations bring you great joy.