According to Patañjali’s Sutras, yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind and meditation is the path that can help us reach the goal of yoga.
“citta vritti nirodha”The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali, 1:2
Whether your aim is to reach inner bliss, or simply quieten your thoughts, meditation requires the body to be steady and still at length without conscious effort or discomfort.
Patañjali states that an asana (yoga pose) must be both “sthira” (steady) and “sukha” (comfortable). Finding this balance is key in fulfilling the purpose of asana practice: preparing the body to sit comfortably in one position for meditation.
It is essential to keep the spine upright while meditating which makes seated and kneeling poses the best yoga for meditation postures.
In this article, we’ll meditate on:
- Making space for meditation
- Pre-meditation yoga
- Yoga for meditation posture: seated and kneeling
- Benefits of meditation asanas
- Precautions and practice notes
Making space for meditation
Choose a quiet moment of your day to practice meditation; first thing in the morning, in the evening, or at any other time when distractions are minimal.
Try to stick to the same time every day to create the habit.
Find a comfortable space for your practice. You don’t need any special equipment or spiritual symbols, just a place to sit that is inviting and warm.
Preparing the body: Yoga for meditation postures
Meditation is most effective after a physical practice of asanas (yoga poses) as they stretch and massage muscles, loosen joints, tone the nervous system, release apana energy and balance the chakras.
If time is limited, we can opt for a simple sequence of practices to prepare the body for meditation:
- Ankle rotation: with the support of your hands, slowly rotate each ankle 5-10 times clockwise and 5-10 times anticlockwise.
- Knee extension-flexion: in a seated position, bend and straighten each knee 5-10 times.
- Knee crank: rotate each lower leg from the knee in large circular movements, clockwise and anticlockwise.
- Flying butterfly: from Butterfly pose place the hands under the thighs. Inhaling, slowly lift the knees up towards each other and bring them down as you exhale. Or, lift and lower one bent knee at a time, with the ankle resting on the thigh of the outstretched leg.
- Wind–releasing: from a wide, low squat place the fingers under the soles of both feet and the thumbs on top. Exhale to straighten the legs and bring the head towards the floor, holding the breath for 3 seconds and inhaling to return to the squatting position.
Yoga for meditation postures
1. Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
Considered the most comfortable meditation posture, Sukhasana facilitates mental and physical balance. You can follow this helpful step-by-step for Sukhasana.
Despite the name, Sukhasana can be difficult to maintain for a long time unless the knees are low because weight falls on the buttocks and backache develops.If this is the case, try sitting on a meditation cushion to tilt the knees downwards and place a rolled blanket over your ankles to give the knees more support.
2. Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
In this archetypal posture, the legs create a strong base that supports the torso, helping to keep the body upright for longer. Padmasana directs the flow of energy from the root chakra to the crown chakra, which can help to heighten the spiritual experience of meditation.
This meditation posture has a relaxing effect on the nervous system, and it releases muscular tension. It helps to slow the breath rate and reduce blood pressure.
You can how to do Lotus pose in this article.
3. Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose)
This simplified variant, with only one foot on top of the opposite thigh, shares the same benefits as Lotus pose, though to a lesser extent.
Like the full pose, Half Lotus Pose is not advised for those with sciatica or weak knees.
Watch this video to learn how to get into Ardha Padmasana.
4. Siddhasana (Accomplished Pose)
Believed to develop psychic powers, this meditation posture is specifically for men (we’ll look at women’s next).
Siddhasana channels prana energy up the spine, calming the entire nervous system. It also tones the lumbar region, pelvis, and abdominal organs to balance the reproductive system and blood pressure.
To do Siddhasana, bend the knees to place the sole of one foot against the opposite inner thigh with the heel pressing the perineum (between the anus and genitals) and place the other foot into the space between the calf and thigh.
If the ankles are uncomfortable, try placing a blanket between the feet to alleviate the pressure.
The pressure applied to the pubic bone is thought to redirect sexual energy back up the spinal cord to enhance spiritual focus.
Siddhasana should not be practiced by anyone experiencing sciatica or reproductive health concerns.
5. Siddha Yoni Asana (Accomplished Pose)
This counterpart for women shares the same benefits as Siddhasana.
To do Siddha Yoni Asana, place the sole of one foot against the opposite inner thigh, with the heel firmly against the groin and insert the other foot in the space between the opposite calf and thigh, applying gentle pressure against the pubic bone.
Similarly, Siddha Yoni should be avoided in the case of sciatica or reproductive health concerns.
6. Swastikasana (Auspicious Pose)
Revered as an enlightening meditation posture, Swastikasana is a simplified version of Siddhasana.
Swastikasana is beneficial for those suffering from tired, achy legs, fluid retention and varicose veins.
To do Swastikasana, place the sole of one foot against the inside of the opposite thigh, without touching the perineum, and insert the other foot between the opposite thigh and calf muscles, without touching the pubic bone.
Auspicious pose should not be practiced by anyone with sciatica or reproductive health problems.
7. Dhyana Veerasana (Hero’s Meditation Pose)
Similar to Gomukasana, this meditation posture stretches the outer muscles of the thigh. Dhyana Veerasana massages the pelvic and reproductive organs.
Hero’s meditation pose is a more comfortable alternative because the body is better supported by the floor, making it easier to sustain for longer, and because there is no external hip rotation.
To do Hero’s Meditation Pose, bend the knees and bring the heels to touch the opposite sit bones. Align the knees, one directly over the other.
Dhyana Veerasana is not recommended for anyone with weak or injured knees.
8. With a chair
Meditating on a chair is particularly recommendable for those with little hip flexibility, knee injuries, sciatica, tight hamstrings or kyphosis.
Using a chair is also recommended when experiencing fatigue or lumbar discomfort because the spine can be kept upright with reduced demand on the lower back and abdominal muscles.
To meditate on a chair, place your sit bones on the seat and position your sacrum against the back of the chair. Keep your back straight without tension and insert a cushion in between the curve of your lower back and the chair.
Kneeling meditation postures are effective alternatives to seated postures for anyone struggling with hip rotation or maintaining an upright spine.
The postures should not be practiced if the knees are inflexible or injured, or in the case of osteoarthritis. They are not advisable for anyone carrying extra weight or during pregnancy due to the additional strain on the knees.
1. Vajrasana (thunderbolt pose)
Esteemed as a meditation posture in many cultures and religions, Vajrasana makes it easier to keep the torso upright. Thunderbolt pose is thought to redirect sexual energy to the mind for spiritual practice.
Vajrasana improves digestion, strengthens pelvic muscles and alleviates hydrocele in men and menstrual disorders in women.
It is the most suitable meditation posture for anyone suffering from sciatica.
Follow this step-by-step guide for Vajrasana.
2. Ananda Madirasana (intoxicating bliss pose)
An alternative to traditional meditation poses, Ananda Madirasana calms the mind and nervous system and awakens the ajna chakra.
It shares the same benefits as Vajrasana.
From Vajrasana, place the palms on top or just above the heels with the fingers pointing towards each other. With the eyes closed, focus attention on the third eye (in between the eyebrows).
3. Bhadrasana (gracious pose)
Considered an excellent meditation pose for spiritual aspirants, Bhadrasana lengthens the spine, creates stability and stimulates the root chakra.
From Vajrasana, separate the knees to a comfortable width keeping the toes in contact with the floor. Separate the feet so the buttocks and perineum are supported on the floor.
If the heels cause discomfort, try placing a folded blanket between them and the buttocks.