Published:
January 18, 2022
Last Updated:
January 20, 2022

Eight Different Meditation Poses: The Best Ways to Meditate

The popularized version of meditation we think of today actually originated in India thousands of years ago and has since transformed into various traditions and styles across the globe. When you contemplate what a meditation posture looks like, a stoic seated pose may first come to mind, but there are many other options to explore.

There’s no right or wrong way to pose during meditation, but there is a way that is best for you. A meditation position that allows you to remain comfortable and aligned for as long as you’d like, without feeling any pain or discomfort, is best. Meditation is for everyone – it may just take some experimenting to find what works for you so that you can enjoy the many benefits of the practice.

Variations are available for sitting, kneeling, standing, walking, and lying down, and each of these possibilities can be modified further, to personalize your practice. Use as many props as you’d like, to support your body, or keep it minimal with no additions at all. Ultimately, you’ll gravitate toward a pose or several different poses that suit you and enhance your time meditating.

Meditation Postures to Try

There are many meditation postures worth exploring, and each offers different benefits and opportunities for modification. If a pose doesn’t work for you, don’t rule out meditation entirely. Instead, experiment with these eight postures and discover what you prefer! Meditation doesn’t involve just yoga poses, either. Some yoga poses are great for meditating, but often you can practice just sitting, standing, or reclining.

1. Seated on the Floor

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Sitting on the floor during your meditation is a way to ground to the earth, restore your mind-body alignment, and instill a sense of peace. Seated postures are used in many styles of meditation, one being the Buddhist insight meditation technique called vipassana.

The simplest seated pose is the Burmese position. To begin, sit with your legs bent, one in front of the other, with both feet resting on the floor. Press the top of your head up toward the ceiling, to lengthen and stack your spine upright.

2. Full Lotus

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Lotus pose, or Padmasana, is a classic pose used in the Hindu practice of chakra meditation. It establishes a balance between grounding and energizing forces. This posture deactivates the stress response but can be challenging for some, since it requires flexibility of the hips, knees, and ankles.

To practice full lotus, start sitting cross-legged with your left leg forward. Lift and place your left foot on your right thigh and your right foot on your left thigh. Release your knees down toward the earth and keep your feet active so as not to sickle the ankles. Sit up tall and release your arms down to your thighs. Next time you practice this cross-legged position, alternate the crossing of your legs.

3. Half Lotus

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Half lotus, or Ardha Padmasana, is a variation of lotus that requires slightly less flexibility and can serve as a warm-up, to prepare for full lotus. It’s often used as an alternative for any seated meditation, including the Buddhist loving-kindness meditation called metta.

For half lotus, bring only one foot up to rest on the opposite thigh. With your bottom leg, you can either extend it forward in front of the body or bend that knee and tuck in the leg while keeping your foot resting on the floor. Repeat this setup on the other side, the next time you give half lotus a go.

4. Kneeling Meditation

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Kneeling is a meditation posture that generates tranquility and a clear mind. This pose elevates the hips and can be helpful in maintaining an elongated spinal column, for those that tend to slouch. Kneeling is one of the position options for zazen, a Zen Buddhist meditation.

In the traditional Japanese position, called seiza, kneel with your knees shoulder-width apart and your buttocks resting on your heels. To lessen some of the deep knee flexion of this pose, you can place a cushion in between your feet or use a meditation bench instead.

5. Seated on a Chair

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A sitting meditation does not have to be solely on the floor. Sitting on a chair is an accessible option that can be used just about anywhere! A desk chair, a wheelchair, a dining chair, or an ergonomically designed meditation chair can provide the support and structure you may need or desire for a seated meditation.

Because utilizing a chair can provide added comfort and limit the distractions of fidgeting, meditating in this position is beneficial for focus and concentration. Transcendental meditation is a type of silent mantra meditation that can be easily adapted to sitting in any type of chair.

Start seated at the edge of the chair with your feet flat on the ground about shoulder-width apart and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Sit with your spine straight and refrain from relying on the back of the chair for support. Tuck your chin in slightly so that the crown of your head is pointed up to the sky.

6. Lying Down

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A supine position, or lying on one’s back, tends to signal to the body that it’s time to fall asleep, but it can be a helpful posture for those who struggle to find comfort in a seated or kneeling position. Lying down invokes a sense of relaxation, as it requires no effort. It’s typically the pose of choice when practicing Yoga Nidra, a guided meditation that translates to “yogic sleep.”

Keep it simple with Savasana, or Corpse Pose, lying flat on the floor or a mat with your feet and legs apart, your arms resting alongside your body with palms facing up, and your eyes closed. Allow your body to rest fully.

7. Standing

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If you spend most of your day sitting, you may want to mix things up with a standing meditation, to get you up and on your feet. This posture is a great way to increase and cultivate your physical and life force energy.

The Qigong meditation, called zhan zhuang, is just one example of a standing meditation. To recharge your energy, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. Add a slight bend to your knees and hold your arms forward at chest level with fingertips directed toward each other, thumbs relaxed and palms facing in toward your body.

8. Walking

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Because remaining awake and aware while still can be challenging for many, walking meditation is an excellent option for meditative movement. Walking is often used in mindfulness meditation because it evokes awareness of your body, breath, and surroundings.

Done indoors or outdoors, this moving meditation involves taking slow and deliberate steps. Try walking a route familiar to you or discover a new path. It might be helpful to start with a straight line and flat surface, but taking trails in nature or walking a labyrinth are good ways to incorporate variety. Wherever your walking meditation takes you, pay attention and keep your awareness on the present moment.

What to Consider for Your Optimal Pose

So which meditation pose is optimal for you? Here are some factors to consider when selecting the pose that matches your intention for a meditation session.

Comfort

A bit of trial and error may take place before you find the meditation pose that provides you with the most comfort and ease. Remain patient and change things up if you feel any aches or pains. Sitting on a chair, bolster, meditation cushion, or folded blanket may alleviate discomfort during your session.

Focus

Focus may seem difficult or even impossible at times, but it is all part of the practice. Postures that encourage focus include lotus and half lotus, as they improve the circulation of blood throughout the body and brain. For some, a walking meditation can provide a useful visual focus, while for others it may be overwhelming and distracting.

Relaxation

You may be drawn to meditation as a tool to relieve stress and unwind. Poses that feel unnatural or challenging to you are not likely to promote relaxation. Try lying down during your meditation, to help you release tension and completely relax.

Alignment

Proper alignment is an important part of a healthy meditation practice. As you explore a pose, do a brief scan through the arrangement of your body in space and notice any areas that require adjustment or support. The kneeling or standing poses are straightforward options that foster proper full-body alignment.

Calm

Grounding postures conjure peace and stillness of the body and the mind. For a calming effect in your meditation, opt for a passive position, such as kneeling or sitting, as opposed to an active position, like standing or walking. Let go of expectations about maintaining the shape of the pose and instead settle into it.

The Bottom Line

There is no perfect position for meditation. The pose or poses you prefer to meditate in can be just as bio-individual as your experience with the practice. Don’t be afraid to customize a posture to alleviate discomfort and support you in your session. A posture that feels just right can help inspire you to incorporate more meditation into your life and benefit from all it has to offer.

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Author Biography
Meghan Vestal, MSAN, RYT-500
,
IIN Content Writer

Meghan Vestal is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and a Content Writer for the Education Department at IIN. She holds her Master of Science in Applied Nutrition from the University of New England and is a Registered Yoga Teacher, RYT-500.

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