Posture is fundamental in meditation. But what about those who are suffering from knee or back-related problems? You don’t have to stop meditation because of discomfort or pain.
In this post, we shall explore some of the posture-related options you can try to comfort your knees in such a way that you can fully enjoy and be immersed in your meditation experience without feeling any discomfort.
In fact, an improper posture can cause your concentration to decrease, focusing on areas of pain, such as the knees, neck, or back. Let’s find out which postures are helpful if we are experiencing issues with any of the above, especially the knees and the back.
If we sit down so that the body is relaxed and alert, relatively free from unnecessary stress, and without putting the joints at risk, we will be laying the groundwork for a kinder practice. Meditation can be done sitting, lying down, or walking; each has its advantages and works best with specific exercises.
Postures to avoid if your have bad knees or back
This is a posture for people with enough flexibility in the joints of the legs with the hips and who do not have any problem with knees. The principles are the same as with the inclined zafu, but the height of the cushion can be quite lower. Your knees should touch the ground; perhaps one of them requires the support of two or three centimeters high.
If you are an expert yoga practitioner, with excellent hip flexibility and have mastered the lotus posture without hurting your knees, it is an excellent posture. Unfortunately, most of the people today do not fit into this description.
Again, if you knee related problems avoid these two postures.
Correct Sitting Posture Of Meditation
If you like to meditate by sitting, you must take into account some tips to do it correctly. Take note!
Although the ideal is to sit on the ground, if you have problems knees or you have a hard time and problem in crossing them, maybe the posture on the ground is not the most recommended for you.
Forcing yourself to sit either crossed legged or in the lotus posture without proper flexibility in the lower part of your body may result in more damage to your knees. So don’t force yourself to sit in an uncomfortable posture.
You can also meditate sitting on a chair, whose height is high enough so that you do not have your knees up and low enough so that your feet can rest on the floor with total comfort. Take off your shoes and support the sole of your feet on the ground.
If you are going to meditate on the ground and you are not an expert yogi with a lot of flexibility, we recommend you to use a meditation cushion. Any centre of meditation must have available couches for all its assistants, and if you prefer to meditate at home, in the market, you find them of different sizes, shapes, and colours.
The meditation cushion helps you so that your knees do not suffer so much while you are sitting and the height will depend on your needs. They have to be a bit hard; normally the hardness is achieved by the filling of natural fibers. Before buying one, try towels, hard cushions that you have at home or with a book and towels to know the height that suit you best.
Meditating seated is the most common and may be the position that facilitates the practice. But if you have issues with your knees there are several other ways of practicing meditation.
Sitting On a Meditation Bench
The meditation bench is one of the easiest ways to establish a proper meditation posture, although initially for people with inflexible feet can be a bit uncomfortable for the insteps.
They can be achieved with relative ease in Buddhist or meditation centers, and even in some bookstores specializing in texts of contemplative and spiritual disciplines.
The inclination of the bench goes towards the front so that we can find the appropriate height for our body. The curvature of the lumbar vertebrae will tend to be more pronounced if you sit towards the front edge of the bench; and on the contrary, if you sit more towards the rear edge, the upper back will tend to stoop; both extremes have to be avoided.
The ideal position is with the chairs in contact with the bench, the back straight, and the chest open, the shoulders rotated backward and the head centered on the shoulders. Since each body is different, it is necessary to experiment a little until you find what is appropriate for you.
If you find that your insteps hurt a lot from the start, you can place a thin rolled blanket just below the point of articulation between shin and foot, so that your insteps are less stretched. In most cases, the insteps are trained to be in that position.
The weight of your body should rest on the bench, and the knees should support only the part of your thighs, not the torso. If the alignment of your column is correct, this will happen naturally.
To make sure, check that the following points are met: the head centered and the ears aligned with the shoulders; these aligned with the hips and in contact with the seat.
Making Use of Zafu (A Cushion Specifically Designed For Meditation)
The inherent challenge while sitting in meditation is that a poor posture can cause the legs to fall asleep easily. And in some cases, even cause back pain. Buying a premium quality Zafu can eliminate this problem.
A Zafu is very different from an ordinary cushion as it relieves the pressure on knees, back, and joints, allowing you to be seated in a comfortable posture for a long time.
If you want more information about meditation cushions, please check out my article 10 Best Meditation Cushions For Comfortable Meditation. I have listed the best meditation cushions out there that can help in relieving pressure around knees and hips while sitting in meditation.
You sit in the upper middle part of the cushion, cross your legs, and then do a forward flexion, bringing your buttocks back and rotating the pelvis to the front, and then you place yourself in such a manner that the bones are firmly in contact with the Zafu and the femoral artery is released.
If your knees do not touch the floor, you can put some smaller cushions or folded blankets under each one, to give them support.
In all cases, the principle is the same: free the femoral arteries to prevent the legs from falling asleep.
Make sure that your knees are lower than your hips. This is for protection of your spine, particularly the lower back. When the knees are higher than the hip, the lumbar area is tensed, and this can cause serious complications.
The legs are crossed; one in front of the other and the knees must be supported either on the floor if you arrive easily, or on cushions or folded blankets.
To avoid alignment problems with the pelvis and spine, occasionally do meditation with the opposite leg crusader; that is, putting forward the leg that you usually put behind and vice versa. In no way make a posture that causes pain in the knees.
If you still feel any discomfort with your knees, consider sitting on a chair.
Sit on a Chair
A good chair can provide the best position for some people. Among other advantages are the following: you can find them anywhere, in fact, you already have some in your house and they do not put your knees at risk, and with a correct posture it is difficult for your legs to fall asleep.
Keep your energy alert and awake, it is better that only the lower part of the backrest of the chair is in contact with your back and not the upper part. Also ensure that the femoral arteries (the main arterial supply for thighs and legs) are not pressed much, so that the legs do not fall asleep. This is easier if you sit on the chair and place the back legs of the chair on a height of two or three centimeters.
Make sure that your knees are not higher or lower than your hips but aligned with them; if you are tall you may need to put one or two blankets over the chair; if your height is medium or low, you may need support under your feet.
Below are some aspects that are worth caring for in order to have a better posture of meditation in a chair:
Posture Stables The Body And Mind Equally
Keep in mind that the right posture and position is important while meditating since body and mind are closely connected. A good posture can promote good meditation and cultivate stability in the body, and also contributes to the stability of the mind.
You know your body best. You are the one who best knows how your body feels in various positions. Make slight adjustments here and there depending on your needs. The most important thing is that your posture should make you feel comfortable and stable at the same time.
Rest Your Feet With Height
The soles of your feet should be well supported on the floor. If for some reason your feet do not reach you can place a couple of large books, a folded wool blanket or a pair of folded towels to adjust the height.
Also make sure that your knee joints are at right angle to each other. This way your ankles will be relaxed, without stress and there will not be any unusual tension in the muscles.
Happy Feet Is To Happy Hips
The hips should be well supported on the seat. It is recommended that the seat is not too soft and that you feel half or a little more towards the shore to achieve the desired angle with your knees, ankles and so that your feet can rest on the floor.
The best thing is that the hips also form a 90-degree angle. But if your knees are slightly lower than your hips, that’s okay. It is not recommended is that your knees are above the line of your hips.
Rest And Meditate While Lying Down
If for some reason sitting on the chair is not comfortable, you can try meditation in the lying down posture. Although, I generally don’t recommend this posture because there is always a tendency to either fall asleep or move restlessly during meditation.
The basic stance of Alexander lying down is highly recommended for meditations with conscious attention to the sensations of the body, either in travel or as a unified field.
In the Alexander posture the knees touch and the lower legs open to the width of the hips. Support of about 5 cm is placed under the head. The hands are placed on the belly, with the middle finger aligned with the groin. If you feel the tension in your lower back when you lie down like this, you may need to place a support under this area.
For this, you can fold a blanket like a small roller and place it under the lumber. In case your hands fall asleep during meditation, you can place them on the floor with palms facing upwards.
Practice Walking Meditation
While you walk, you can meditate. In doing so, feel the presence of fresh air and the earth beneath you. In walking meditation, keep back should be straight, but at the same time relaxed and with loose shoulders.
The head is directed towards the sky, while we notice at all times the weight of the feet and their contact with the ground, fully and firmly at each step.
Whenever possible, it is better to practice it barefoot. Walking meditation helps to correct bad postures, there is less discomfort on the bad knees, lower back issues and drooping of the shoulders.
Your Attitude Towards The Posture
Now, a good posture in sitting meditation, or even lying down, is only half of the equation. The other part is the attitude we keep towards it. By definition, no seated meditation posture is quite easy and relaxing in the beginning, as our body is not used to being still for so long. Naturally, there will be small tensions here or there, typically in the feet, legs, back or shoulders.
If our initial position is correct these feelings of tension can be worked into meditation without having to fight against them or try to change them at all costs. Working with them means allowing us to feel them, to experience them lovingly as they happen.
If we introduce aversion and struggle towards the sensations of tension, our meditation will begin to become an unsuccessful battlefield for the conquest of the ideal posture. But if we introduce receptivity and full loving awareness to the very same sensations, we will discover that they are really energy processes in constant change and such an attitude will result in better conditions for these areas to relax.
However, many people have poor posture habits, which are likely to appear during meditation. In such cases, it is necessary to make a small adjustment that can make a big difference in posture.
For example, make a small movement of one or two centimeters to reposition a leg that has become numb, or center your back again, open up your chest a little more, or canter the head on your shoulders, and more.
The important thing is that you should not try to make adjustments that are reactions of aversion towards the sensations of the body. Otherwise you will be constantly fidgeting and be disturbed during the entire session of your meditation practice.
Meditation Is The Medicine To Relieve Discomfort Of The Body
Once you know the above, we recommend the following meditation to relieve any discomforts of the body as follows:
- Start sitting in a comfortable and relaxed position. Remember the fact that you have to be in that position for a few minutes.
- Then, make your breathing conscious. Observe the flow of breath as it enters and exits your nostrils. Don’t force it; just feel its rhythm.
- Little by little, breathe more deeply and gently. Soon you start experiencing a wave of calm.
- After about a minute of your deep breathing, start the following exercises:
- Walk your body through your imagination. That is, do not touch or move, but make a mental scan of every part of your body. You can start with the head and go down to the tips of your feet.
- As you leisurely pace each part of your body, be aware of your sensations. Does any particular part bother you? Do you feel the tension or muscle crap in a certain area of the body? Which parts of your body feel more relaxed and which ones less? You can also detect the parts of your body that feel strange because of the way you put your weight on the chair or where you are sitting. Does your whole body fall with the same softness?
- Once you identify areas of tension or discomfort, send your deep breath to those spaces. Inhale and exhale slowly, thinking about relieving that place.
- Now, imagine that a green light slowly travels that area of your body to which you send your breath. The green color away from negativity and promotes peace and tranquillity.
- Keep your mind focused on sending green light and deep breathing to that area of the body. Give space and give peace to your discomfort. It is a way of telling your body: “I know what you feel, and I want to help you.”
- Once you finish the meditation exercise, calmly focus your attention back to your breathing.
- Little by little, return to your body and review once more how each part feels.
- Slowly move your hands and feet and, in a deep exhalation, open your eyes.
A proper posture, with the back aligned, allows the energy to flow through the vertebrae and muscles of your body, so that you can breathe freely and your meditation is fruitful where your body and mind enter a state of stillness and calm.
Meditation is a simple way to make a truce with your discomfort and thus relieve your symptoms. If the pain is intense, you can go to a doctor, but meditation will always be an excellent complement to any treatment.