Is Sitting Uncomfortable? Try an Alternate Meditation Posture

This entry was posted on Jul 20, 2021 by Charlotte Bell.
Meditation Seating

Do you find sitting meditation uncomfortable? You’re not alone. For many people, the traditional posture, sitting cross-legged, is not ideal. The good news is that cross-legged is not the only way to sit. Perhaps an alternate meditation posture can help create ease in your sitting meditation.

If your knees are higher than your pelvic rim when you sit cross-legged, your back will naturally have to round. This means you will have to tighten your core in order to sit up straight. This is not a sustainable position and will likely cause you to tire easily. It can also cause strain in your low back, sacroiliac joints and your hip joints.

Sitting is most comfortable when you can maintain your natural spinal curves. For some it is much easier to maintain the spinal curves if they sit with their shins folded under them. If your hip joints don’t externally rotate easily and cross-legged sitting is uncomfortable, you may be a candidate for sitting this way. A yoga bolster, meditation bench or zafu can support your alternate meditation posture quite nicely.

Meditation Bench - Olive

Sitting Options

All the options have particular advantages. Here are some things to think about in choosing a sitting meditation support:

  • Round Bolsters work especially well for this type of sitting. They’re a bit taller than the Standard or Junior bolsters, which can also be good options. The bolsters are filled with cotton batting, so they create a soft cushion—comfy on your ischial tuberosities (sit bones). To use a zafu or an alternate sitting posture, you can turn the cushion on its side to give it more height and less width. Zafus have the advantage of being a bit more adjustable, because they’re filled with buckwheat hulls. You can shift the hulls around inside to support you where you need it most. Meditation benches are a great option for sitting with your legs tucked under you. The seat of the bench is slanted forward to support. The legs of the bench fold inward for easy transport, and each bench comes with a cushion.
Round Yoga Bolster - Aqua

As with everything, it’s really a matter of preference. Bolsters, benches and zafus can work equally well for this type of sitting.

How to Practice

  • Place your bolster, zafu, or bench on a zabuton or folded blanket for extra padding under your knees, shins and ankles.
  • Sit on your bolster, bench or zafu with your pelvis somewhat close to the edge. Find your comfort spot so that your pelvis tilts forward and your spine lengthens upward.
  • Make whatever adjustments allow you to feel supported and comfortable.
Zabuton Meditation Pillow - Black
About Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. Her third book is titled Hip-Healthy Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Guide to Protecting the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Pain (Shambhala Publications). She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.

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