This reposted article is from The Conscious Life.
Finding it hard to maintain a meditation sitting posture without a support? Don’t fret. Here are some equally effective positions to consider.
In my article on how to meditate, I often get questions about alternative poses to meditate other than the standard lotus or cross-legged meditation position.
These queries are usually sent by people who suffer from some form of back or joint problem which makes sitting without a support difficult. For instance, for chronic back pain sufferers, sitting for even fifteen to twenty minutes without adequate support can trigger sharp pain down the spine.
So in this article, I will highlight some alternative meditation positions that are suitable for this group of meditators. They are gentler to the back, and are no less effective.
Some of these postures require additional tools to pull off, while others need no more than the pillow or chair you already have. Try them out and I hope you will find one that enables you to meditate without pain.
Meditation Pose 1:
I learned this pose from the last mindfulness-based cognitive therapy retreat in May 2011. Basically, it is an inverted sitting position. But instead of lying your back against a chair, you lie on the floor with your legs supported by a chair. Put a pillow underneath your head to give your head and neck some support. Rest your hands beside you.
From the picture, it is not hard to imagine why it is called the astronaut pose. In this position, it looks like you are ready to take off for the distant stars! And is not that what happen during meditation when thoughts fade in and out of our consciousness like stars in the night sky?
Meditation Pose 2:
Although this meditation position may put one to sleep more than other postures, it does not mean you shouldn’t give it a try. For one, the corpse pose is extremely gentle to the back and is very useful to people who have problem sustaining an upright meditation position. This easy pose is also suited for guided meditation, body scan exercise as well as pure light visualization.
To assume this pose, simply lie your back against a flat horizontal surface, either on the floor or bed. Rest your hands beside you with palms facing upwards (or downwards if you prefer). Space your feet about shoulder width apart and preferably, take off your shoes and socks. Use a blanket to keep yourself warm whenever necessary.
Place a pillow under your head to support the neck, and if need be, put one under the knees too to maintain the natural curve of your lower back. You might also try a small, rolled towel under the small of your back for additional support.
Note: If you find yourself consistently fall asleep after adopting this pose, then it is probably too comfortable for you. Try another meditation position that will keep you more awake.
Meditation Pose 3:
The prayer pose is a variation of the traditional kneeling position. Kneeling unsupported with the buttocks resting on the back of the heels for prolonged period can be uncomfortable and stressful for your feet. So, in this prayer pose, a kneeling bench is used instead.
Look for a kneeling bench with a padded sloping top (such as this one) which not only makes kneeling more comfortable than an unpadded one, but also helps to tilt your back slightly forward. This will take pressure off your lower spine when you assume the position.
However, with or without a bench, kneeling can be hard on the knees. Place a cushion or a zabuton between you and the floor to prevent your legs from getting bruised.
The Sitting Mountain
This is a sitting pose done with the support of a chair. Since we’re talking about postures that are gentle to the back, here are some tips to sit in a more back-friendly way:
- Adjust the height of the chair so that both of your feet are resting flat on the floor. Use a footstool if necessary.
- Place a small cushion or a lumbar support behind the curve of your lower back if your chair does not give you adequate support.
- Lift up your head as if a taut string is attached to it, and tuck your chin in slightly.
- Keep your upper back and neck comfortably straight.
- If an upright spine is too painful for you, lift your buttocks higher than your knees with a small cushion so that your pelvis is tilt slightly forward.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed — not rounded, raised or pulled backward.
Meditation Pose 5:
The Sleeping Buddha
Like the corpse pose, this posture is suitable for the ill and frail, as well as those with severe back and joint problems. Healthy practitioners can also adopt this pose to meditate every night before sleep to increase their sleep quality and mindfulness.
To assume this meditation position, lie on one side of your body on a flat horizontal surface, and place one hand under your cheek. If you are resting on your left side, use your left hand to cradle your cheek. If it is the right side you lie on, then use your right hand. As for the other hand, just rest it lightly along the side of the body that is inline with the hand.
Bend both legs slightly and rest them on top of one another. To prevent the upper leg from sliding forward and causes the lower spine to rotate, you may want to place a pillow between your thighs and knees.
Your head and neck should be supported by a pillow of an appropriate height so that your spine remains horizontal, and not sliding down (which indicates that the pillow is too soft) or arching up (in this case, the pillow is too hard or too high).
Once you are ready, practice breathing meditation the same way you’d do in a sitting position. Focus your attention on your inhales and exhales. Feel the air that is entering and leaving your nostrils. When you realize that your thoughts have wandered to something else other than your breaths, just start again by bringing your attention back to where it should be. Carry on for 15 minutes or more. Then, just allow yourself to fall gently asleep.
Meditation Pose 6:
In this pose, you simply stand at ease with one hand resting lightly on top of the other hanging in front of you. Fix your gaze downwards as you mediate on your breaths. Don’t move your body or allow your gaze to waver. Because of its simplicity, you can use this meditation pose almost anywhere: while standing in line, on bus or train, or while waiting for someone to turn up. You will find yourself a lot less anxious and even begin to enjoy these waiting moments that often drive people crazy.
Jennifer Magnano is the yoga, meditation, core strength trainer & birth coach and mompreneur owner of Mamoga (check out the facebook life-joy). She believes in happiness, health, and wealth. Her motto’s in life are “acceptance is bliss” and “we best serve others when we serve ourselves first.” Jennifer is growing simple body bliss (perfect happiness) in women, mother’s, and families across the planet, through holistic acts of self-nurture and products, like that crazy wrap thing. If you’d like to connect, email her today!