During the past 8 months, I’ve been developing a daily meditation practice and I can only say that it has been an amazing transformative process. However, it has been hard for me to find a pose for meditation that keeps my spine in an upright, but comfortable, position for long periods of time. Definitely a bit of a challenge.
My preferred position for meditation is an easy seat (crossed legs) but like many people, I have tight hips and stiff knees and ankles. One of the most beneficial things I’ve found is to regularly practise some of the toe, ankle and hip exercises from the Pawanmuktasana Joint Opening Series before each meditation session. If you’ve ever attended one of my Kindness or Nidra classes at PNY, you’ll be familiar with the exercises as we often do a couple of repetitions prior to sitting for Pranayama or breathing practices.
But there are also quite a few props which can help you with getting comfortable for meditation, and the first one I’m going to suggest is a chair. It might seem like cheating but actually sitting in a chair is a fantastic position for meditation if you set yourself up correctly. Make sure that your bottom is away from the back of the chair and your feet are planted firmly on the ground. If you have short legs like me, then you might want to pop a yoga block underneath your feet. One benefit of sitting in a chair is that you can still easily hold mudras (hand gestures) or have your hands resting lightly on your thighs or in your lap.
Lying down is also an option, particularly in a semi-supine position, with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, which creates a sense of connection with the ground whilst remaining alert. However, I find it more difficult to find a comfortable position for my hands whilst lying down in meditation and mudras can become awkward.
In a sitting position, there is also a wide variety of yoga props that can be used to support you. If you prefer kneeling to sitting cross-legged, you can sit astride a bolster or try a traditional meditation stool. Generally, teachers recommend a sitting position where your hips are higher than your knees and both these options provide that easily. Or if you prefer cross-legged but need a lot more height, try sitting on top of the bolster with your legs crossed on the floor in front. You can also experiment with a meditation cushion (zafu) which come in different thicknesses and so give different heights.
But to be honest, one of my favorite props is the simple foam block found in yoga studios. I tip slightly off the front of the block so the back edge lifts and that seems to put my pelvis and spine in a comfortable position in relation to each other. If you find ankles and feet suffer from pressure against a hard floor, experiment with blankets to give them cushioning.
Once you’ve found options that work for you, don’t be afraid to change them around according to how your body is feeling that day. When portrayed in the media, yoga often seems to focus on the full or half lotus as the ultimate goal when it comes to finding a meditation position. If that or the cross-legged alternative isn’t right for your body though, then don’t keep pursuing it. Find the option that works for you and which allows you to focus on the meditation practice and not the external posture.
Love & Light