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The Right Sitting Position for Pranayama and Meditation

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

The basic rules of right sitting in Pranayama and Meditation

Unlocking the Power of Proper Sitting: Perfecting Your Meditation and Spiritual Practice  Uncover the secrets to achieving an ideal sitting posture for your meditation, Pranayama, and other spiritual practices. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced practitioner, finding the right pose can be a significant challenge. However, investing time and respecting your unique physical conditions are vital steps toward discovering the perfect position. Once you find your personal alignment, you'll be able to sit effortlessly and comfortably for extended periods, allowing the free flow of energy and facilitating a deepened spiritual experience.

How to sit right for Meditation, Pranayama and other spiritual practices is a big question and a topic of struggles for beginners and practitioners alike. To find the perfect pose can take some time and requests respect for yourself and your unique physical conditions. When you find your personal position, you can sit without effort or discomfort for long hours. The right pose will allow your energy to flow and deepen your spiritual practice.

When do I sit right?

You have found your perfect pose when

  • You can sit without any effort

  • Your position is stable

  • You are completely relaxed in your position

  • Your spine is straight

  • Your foundation is stable

  • Blood circulates normally (no numbness)

"Sthira Sukham Asanam" Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.46

Patanjali´s Yoga Sutra 2.46 about the nature of Asanas states that a pose (Asana) should be stable (Sthira) and comfortable (Sukam). The serenity of the body allows the practitioner to dwell deep inside and lets the energy (Prana) flow freely through our whole being.

To find stability in our pose, build a strong foundation to sit on.

Whether you sit on a chair or on the floor, with or without support, doesn´t matter when it comes to the principles of sitting.

1. Stable Foundation in Pranayama and Meditation

To sit stable, like a Pyramid, we need to sit on our natural tools, our sitting bones. The spine is balanced freely upon this foundation. The hips should be free, so we can still tilt our pelvic forward and backward without obstruction. The knees are always lower or at the same level as our hips, so that the energy can flow freely in the position.

Make sure that you sit high enough otherwise there will be a pressure on the hips which transfers onto the next joints, our knees and ankles! Use support to cushion your legs individually and find the right support for your grounding.

2. Straight spine in Pranayama and Meditation

Our spine is not linear but shaped in a double-s-curve to bring us the stability and flexibility we need to be upright. The intensity of the lordosis (convex curve) and kyphosis (concave curve) in the spine differs individually. No one looks like pictures in anatomy books, but we all have unique conditions and an individual harmony in our physique. So, every sitting position will look a bit different from person to person. When we stand up straight and relaxed, without effort, our spine is straight. The chest is open and the shoulders are hanging down without tension. The neck is long and the chin remains parallel to the ground. The highest point of our head is in straight line with the base of our spine, our coccyx. The head is facing forward and not tilted in any direction.

When we sit down our spine remains in the exact same position.

Watch out for the curve in your lower back!

Why is the right sitting position so crucial? First and foremost, proper alignment promotes physical comfort and stability, enabling you to sit for extended periods without discomfort. This comfort creates an environment conducive to deepening your focus and relaxation, allowing you to delve into profound states of meditation or harness the power of breath control in Pranayama.  Moreover, the right sitting position supports the alignment of the spine, ensuring an unobstructed flow of energy throughout your body. This energy flow is essential for accessing higher states of consciousness and facilitating spiritual growth.  By adopting a posture that suits your unique body and physical conditions, you enhance your ability to maintain a steady and attentive mind. A relaxed and upright spine encourages clear mental focus, making it easier to calm the mind, let go of distractions, and cultivate mindfulness.  Additionally, the right sitting position facilitates proper breath control in Pranayama. It allows for the expansion and contraction of the diaphragm, maximizing the intake of life-giving oxygen and promoting efficient energy circulation within the body. This synchronized breathwork harmonizes the mind, body, and spirit, amplifying the transformative effects of your practice.  Investing time and effort in discovering your ideal sitting position is a profound act of self-care and respect for your body's unique needs. Experiment with different postures such as cross-legged positions, kneeling postures, or sitting on a cushion or chair until you find the one that offers stability, comfort, and a sense of groundedness.  In conclusion, the right sitting position is the key that unlocks the door to deepening your meditation and Pranayama practices. By prioritizing proper alignment, you create the optimal conditions for focus, relaxation, breath control, and energy flow, ultimately propelling your spiritual journey to new heights of insight and self-discovery.

As you sit down on the floor, your support or a chair keep your hands at your lower back and observe the curve. The curve has to remain the same. If it flattens then level up your support to keep your lordosis and your hips mobile. When your spine remains in the same position as in standing up you have found the right hight for support.

Discover why finding the right sitting position is crucial for effective meditation and Pranayama practices. Learn how proper alignment enhances focus, relaxation, and breath control, allowing you to dive deeper into your spiritual journey.

3. Support for sitting in Pranayama and Meditation

As a support for your sitting position, you can use anything that allows you to sit stable and effortless. The legs can be cushioned individually to avoid blocks in the energy flow. Some suggestions here

As a support for your sitting position, you can use anything that allows you to sit stable and effortless.

  • Folded blanket/towel

  • Sitting cushion

  • Meditation bench

  • Pillow

  • Yoga block…

4. Effortlessness and Free Energy Flow in Pranayama and Meditation

After some minutes of sitting, you may observe that some tension builds up or limbs become numb. Often pain in the hips, knees or ankles occur and without respecting the signal of the body we might end up hurting our-self. So, if numbness or pain arises, we have to change the position so that no nerves or vessels are squeezed and allow the energy to flow again. Stretching or changing the legs in crossed-leg positions is a good way to counter the problem during a session. Yet, the sitting position should be adapted, so it won´t happen again. A little journey of trial and error is normal until you find your perfect sitting position.

5. Crossed-legs or parallel legs?

We all have seen pictures of meditating persons sitting blissful in the so-called Lotus seat. Most people cannot sit like this as the hips are not open enough for this advanced asana. Whether you want to cross your legs and take one of the many Yoga positions or sit with parallel legs is completely up to you and your personal composition.

If you choose to sit with crossed legs make sure that you change the legs every day or every meditation session so that your body remains balanced.

Vajrasana: Unveiling the Power of the Thunderbolt Pose  Vajrasana, or the Thunderbolt Pose, is a yoga asana that holds significant importance due to its numerous benefits for both the body and mind. Incorporating Vajrasana into your yoga routine can have a transformative impact on various aspects of your well-being.  One of the key advantages of practicing Vajrasana is its positive influence on digestion. By sitting in this pose after meals, you encourage the blood flow to the abdominal area, optimizing digestion and reducing digestive discomfort. Vajrasana helps alleviate issues such as bloating, gas, and indigestion, making it an excellent choice for those seeking digestive health.  Furthermore, Vajrasana promotes proper posture and spinal alignment. When you sit in this pose, it engages and strengthens the muscles of the back, core, and pelvic floor. Regular practice of Vajrasana can help correct postural imbalances and enhance overall body alignment, leading to improved posture and reduced back pain.
Padmasana: The Essence of the Lotus Pose  Padmasana, commonly known as the Lotus Pose, holds immense importance in the practice of yoga. This iconic seated posture offers a range of benefits that positively impact both the body and mind, making it a key component of any yoga routine.  One of the primary advantages of Padmasana is its ability to promote physical stability and balance. By crossing the legs and resting each foot on the opposite thigh, this pose helps create a solid foundation. Padmasana strengthens the core, improves posture, and enhances overall body alignment. This seated position encourages a straight and aligned spine, which is essential for maintaining good posture throughout daily activities.  Beyond its physical benefits, Padmasana is renowned for its ability to induce mental calmness and relaxation. The Lotus Pose is often associated with meditation and mindfulness practices due to its ability to create a serene and centered state of mind. Sitting in Padmasana helps calm the nervous system, quiet the mind, and promote a deep sense of inner peace and tranquility.  Moreover, Padmasana facilitates a deeper spiritual connection and cultivates a sense of harmony within oneself. This pose is known to activate the root and sacral chakras, which are associated with grounding, creativity, and spiritual awakening. Practicing Padmasana regularly can help you establish a stronger connection with your higher self, deepen your spiritual practice, and foster a greater sense of self-awareness and mindfulness.  Another significant aspect of Padmasana is its impact on flexibility. As you consistently practice this pose, it gradually stretches and opens the hips, knees, and ankles. Over time, Padmasana increases joint mobility, enhances flexibility, and prepares the body for more advanced yoga postures.  To practice Padmasana, sit on the floor with your legs extended. Bend one knee and place the foot on the opposite thigh. Repeat on the other side. If sitting with both feet on the opposite thighs is challenging, you can modify the pose by placing one foot on the calf of the opposite leg.  Incorporating Padmasana into your yoga practice brings a multitude of benefits, including physical stability, mental calmness, spiritual connection, and increased flexibility. Embrace the essence of the Lotus Pose and experience the transformative effects it can have on your overall well-being. Allow Padmasana to guide you towards a deeper sense of inner harmony and fulfillment.

6. Mudras for eyes and hands in Pranayama and Meditation

It is not necessary to form a Mudra with your hands during meditation. Yet, you can intensify certain aspects of your practice or use a Mudra as treatment for ailments. You can read more about Mudras in this article. Holding the palms upward opens your system towards energies. You can feel more of your surroundings and receive cosmic energy. With the palms facing down you close your system more. It helps to remain with yourself and hinder disturbances from penetrating your energy field.

I recommend to keep your eyes closed so that the visual stimulus is excluded and your inner sensation increases. Yet, there are practices with open or half-closed eyes as well like Trataka or rolling the closed eyes up.

7. Tips to correct the position- Indications in Pranayama and Meditation

  • Tension builds up in the lower back: Your lower back muscles cannot relax because they have to hold the position. Level up your sitting to relieve your lower back

  • Knees are painful after some time: Adjust your sitting height and make sure your hips are mobile like in standing position.

  • Neck is tilting backward and shoulder falling forward: level up your sitting position.

8. Start easy and adjust over time

As much as we want to sit like in a Yoga journal, we have to respect our physical limitations and needs. In the west we grow up sitting on chairs, not on the floor. Mostly our hips are closed and an advanced Yoga position will bring discomfort and eventually injuries. Most important is the position of your spine and that you sit straight in comfort and without any effort. So, feel free to start you sitting Meditation or Pranayama practice on a chair or use enough support. When you practice Asanas and sitting postures your hips will open and your sitting support has to level down bit by bit. You will have to adjust your height and cushions according to your progress in flexibility.

Watch out! Even without stretching your hips will open up through mental practice and meditative states alone. Be prepared for changes.

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