Posture and Alignment

Postures for meditation can be grouped as follows:

  1. Sitting
  2. Standing
  3. Laying down
  4. Walking (moving)

They all share key points of alignment.None of the following are ‘absolutes’ and all adapt to the posture. All these tips are done softly, gently, with ease. The same way you hold a glass, not loosely so that it drops from your hand, not over tightly so that you crush it.

  • Keep the spine straight; spine erect
  • Shoulders are over (in line with) the hips
  • Open collarbones, shoulderblades tucked into ribs
  • Head over the shoulders
  • gently reach up through the roof of the mouth (palette); adjusting head to close jaw so teeth lightly touch. To explore this adjustment, place a towel over the crown holding each end; press the crown upward to ceiling. [activiting longus colli]
  • place palette over perineum.
  • draw rectum lightly up – aswini mudra and/or mula bandha
  • move low belly lightly inward maintaining a place of energy between navel and pubic bone (hara, tanden, kunda), allowing this place to move with the breath
  • placement of pelvis; not too far back (sway back results) or too far forward (the back will round). gently move pelvis back and forward, narrowing the range of motion; feeling for a placement where core is stable
  • lightly lift ribs off of the hips

These key points cover the core of the body. Other points depend on the specific posture we are using:

  1. Sitting
    • Depending on the flexibility of the hips and strength of the back, either a chair, a seiza bench, or a cushion on a thick mat is used for sitting.
    • Place the legs in a comfortable position. Tradition recommends full-lotus but avoid this posture if joint pain results. The vinyasa given will help but they will require practice to be useful. See details on postures here
    • Place hands comfortably in lap, a blanket or small cushion underneath may help keep the hands and arms comfortable. The left hand is on top of the right hand  with the thumbs touching lightly. Meditators often use a variation as the hands can also tire over the course of a lengthy practice.
    • lift the ribs off of the hips, lift the roof of the mouth; adjust the head so the jaw closes naturally with teeth lightly touching
  2. Standing
    • The feet are placed about hips width apart, with the inside edges roughly parallel. Balance the weight evenly on both feet, keep little more weight on the base of the big toe zone
    • Arms and hands either at the sides of the body or hands joined in front on a comfortable position.
  3. Laying down
    • A blanket or small cushion may be needed under the head
    • Arms either on ground with hands turned up or fingers on low belly
    • Legs bent, feet a little wider than hips given a solid base for legs (Ardha Savasana)
  4. Walking (moving)
    • Arms either at sides or hands joined in front
    • When the foot is placed, experience the shifts in weight as you move forward. Land on ball of foot rather than heel; explore placing more weight on base of big toe zone rather than toward outside edge of feet
    • The rate of walking varies from extremely slow to extremely fast. When learning walking meditation use a rate that is stable (if too slow we can be wobbly; if too fast we can be sloppy) and that allows the opportunity for attention on the sensations of the body.