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Meditation Poses: In Your Desk Chair, on the Floor, and More

Why position matters

Meditation is gaining popularity due to its countless benefits.

Meditation isn’t one-size-fits-all —dozens of variations and techniques are available to you. But you don’t have read every book on the topic or start signing up for retreats around the world to get started. Just sit back, relax, and breathe where you are.

Meditation can be done anytime, anywhere, and for any length of time. Whether you’re exploring meditation for the first time or are a regular practitioner, it’s important to stay flexible in your approach. Creating a practice that works for you is key, and you’ll likely modify and adjust your practice to suit your evolving needs.

Keep reading to learn four different meditation positions, how to maintain the correct posture, and more.

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Sitting

Chair-sitting meditation

You can easily meditate while sitting in a chair, making this the perfect practice for midday rejuvenation while at work. You can meditate at work or while traveling.

To get in the right position to meditate, sit in your chair with a straight back and with your feet flat on the floor. They should form a 90-degree angle with your knees. You may need to scoot to the edge of the chair.

Sit up straight, so that your head and neck are in line with your spine. You may place a pillow behind your lower back or under your hips for added support.

If you aren’t sure what to do with your hands, you can rest them on your knees or place them in your lap.

Standing

Standing meditation

If you’re more comfortable upright, try standing meditation.

To do this, stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Shift your feet so that your heels turn slightly inward and your toes are pointing slightly away from each other.

Once you’re in position, slightly bend your knees. Allow your body to root down through your feet with each exhale. Imagine your energy lifting out through the crown of your head with each inhale.

For added relaxation, place your hands on your belly so that you can feel your breath moving through your body.

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Kneeling

Kneeling meditation

If you’re in a place where you can comfortably kneel down, give it a try. One advantage of this pose is that it’s easier to keep your back straight.

To do this, rest on the floor on bent knees. Your shins should be flat on the floor with your ankles below your bottom. You can place a cushion between your bottom and heels for more support and less strain on your knees. You shouldn’t feel pain when you’re in this position. If you do, try another meditation pose that allows you to be pain-free and feel relaxed.

Be sure to root your weight back and down through your hips. This keeps you from putting too much pressure on your knees.

Lying down

Lying-down meditation

You may find it easier to relax and release tension if you lie down. This way your body is totally supported.

To do this, lie on your back with your arms extended alongside your body. Your feet should be hip-distance apart, and your toes can be turned out to the side.

If this is uncomfortable, modify the pose to support your lower back. Place a pillow underneath your knees to slightly elevate them while lying flat. You can also bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground.

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Meditation and posture

Relationship between meditation and posture

Posture is essential to meditation, but you can take a flexible approach to it. Start your practice while in a position that comes naturally to you. It’s important to start in a comfortable place, so that you can gently shift your body into the correct positioning throughout your practice.

You may find that maintaining a specific posture helps you to set a positive intention or resolve for your practice. When you come back to the posture or position, you can remind yourself of why you’re practicing — to be present, to feel relaxed, or whatever else you may need.

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Seven-point meditation

Seven-point meditation posture

The seven-point meditation posture is an approach to sitting while meditating. There are seven guidelines that you can use to help correctly position your body. Of course, you’re welcome to adjust anything that doesn’t work for you. Approach the practice the same way that you approach your posture. Your body is actively engaged, yet there is a softness to it.

1. Sitting

Depending on how flexible your hips are, you can sit in quarter, half, or full lotus positon. You can also sit cross-legged with your hips elevated higher than your heels by sitting on a meditation cushion, towel, pillow, or chair. You can use a cushion or meditation bench to get support in most positions. It’s important to choose a pose that’s comfortable so you can focus on your meditation.

2. Spine

No matter how you sit, your spine should be as straight as possible. If you tend to slouch forward or sway slightly backward, now is the time to gently remind yourself to come back into the correct posture.

Continue to root down through your body with each exhale. Lift your body up and lengthen your spine with each inhale. Feel the line of energy that goes from the base of your spine out through the crown of your head. Keeping your spine straight will help you to stay alert.

3. Hands

You can rest your hands on your thighs with your palms facing down. Keeping your hands placed down is said to be more grounding and help relax your body’s energy flow.

You can also stack your hands in your lap with your palms facing up. To do this, place your right hand on top of your left hand with your thumbs gently touching. This hand position is said to generate more heat and energy.

4. Shoulders

Keep your shoulders relaxed and comfortable as your draw them slightly back and down. This helps keep your heart center open and your back strong.

During your practice, check in with your posture from time to time. Ensure that your spine is straight and draw the tops of your shoulders down and away from your ears. Pay attention to the height of your shoulders and notice if one feels higher than the other so that you can adjust as needed.

5. Chin

Keep your chin tucked in slightly while maintaining length in the back of your neck. Correctly positioning your chin helps you to maintain your posture. Keep your face relaxed. You may find that turning the corners of your face up slightly helps to release any tension in the face.

6. Jaw

Try to release any tension you’re holding in your jaw. It may be helpful to keep your jaw slightly open as you press your tongue against the roof of your mouth. This automatically relaxes the jaw, allows for clear breathing, and slows down the swallowing process.

You can also do a few exaggerated yawns before you meditate to stretch your jaw and release tension.

7. Gaze

Most people find it easier to meditate with closed eyes. Avoid squeezing your eyes shut. Softly closing them will help you keep your face, eyes, and eyelids relaxed.

You can also meditate with open eyes. Maintain an unfocused gaze on the floor a few feet ahead of you. Keep your face relaxed and avoid squinting.

Decide which way you’ll meditate before you begin, so you’re not switching back and forth between open and closed eyes. This can be disorienting and disrupt the flow of your practice.

Check out: 4 Ways to get healthier in 10 minutes a day »

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Tips

Things to keep in mind

You may find that your meditation practice is more beneficial if you do the following:

  • Start with shorter practices, and increase as you feel comfortable.
  • Focus on your breath moving in and out through your body.
  • Keep your breath slow, steady, and smooth.
  • Observe all thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they arise and pass.
  • Remember that these can be positive, negative, and neutral.
  • Gently bring your mind back to the present without judgment when it wanders.
  • Be conscious of the silence and stillness within.
  • Bring your awareness to the sounds around you one by one.
  • Feel the air or clothing touching your skin and feel your body touching the floor.

No matter what, it’s important that you’re loving and gentle with yourself. There is no wrong way to meditate, and what you want to get out of a practice is entirely up to you.

Keep reading: The best mindfulness blogs of the year »

Takeaway

What comes next

Decide if you want to commit to meditation practice. Start with an attainable time, such as 10 minutes a day, and choose the time of day that best suits you. Early morning and evening are often recommended, as meditation can help set the tone for your day or help you wind down into sleeping.

It’s great if you can meditate every day, but it’s okay if you don’t. Your approach to practice should be tailored to your individual needs. It may be helpful to keep a brief journal to record any insights that arise during your practice. Stay mindful and bring your awareness back to the present moment throughout the day.

You may wish to seek the guidance of a yoga teacher who can help you to develop your practice. There are also plenty of guided meditations available online.

Keep reading: The best meditation apps of the year »

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