Which is the best posture for meditation?
What posture do I recommend?
According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, padmasana lotus posture is the best pose for a yogi. However that does not mean that it is the best posture for everyone. It is best for those whose limbs are flexible and who while sitting in it, do not feel stress and strain.
If the mind is under stress and strain due to the posture, the mind will not meditate. Patanjali recommended that while sitting to meditate, the student should use an easy posture:
sthira sukham āsanam
sthira – steady; sukham – comfortable; āsanan – bodily posture.
The posture should be steady and comfortable. (Yoga Sutras 2.46)
prayatna śaithilya ananta samāpattibhyām
prayatna – effort; śaithilya – relaxation; ananta – endless, infinite; samāpattibhyām – meeting, encounter.
It results in relaxation of effort and meeting with the infinite. (Yoga Sutras 2.47)
The realization about posture is twofold.
If however I sit in lotus posture and it is not steady and comfortable, the meditation will be irregular. It may be irregular any way but if in addition, the posture is difficult and stressful, the irregularity will increase proportionately.
There are two legitimate reasons for using a difficult posture during meditation:
· Getting an instruction from the yoga teacher to assume a difficult posture during meditation
· Using a difficult posture because in that pose one’s body is not stressed by flexibility of limbs.
It is best to assume an easy pose, even one which is reclining during the meditation phase of practice. One should not confuse yoga as posture. Yoga is not posture. Yoga includes practice of postures. Yoga is not meditation. Yoga includes meditation. Patanjali listed meditation not as yoga but as samyama, the complete psychological restraint. He listed the three higher stages of yoga as one sequential process called samyama, which translated is termed as meditation in the English language.
There is one confusion however where many feel that introspective sensual energy withdrawal is meditation. Patanjali list that as the stage before meditation, as pratyahar. Technically speaking pratyahar is the premeditative condition only. It is a big achievement for most people who attempt meditation but it is not meditation according the Patanjali.
The practice of asana postures and that of pranayama breath infusion are preliminary to pratyahar interiorization and samyama meditation but it is incorrect to consider postures as meditation. One should do postures to flex the body but when sitting to meditate one should assume one posture which is easy and stress free.
There is an exception, where a student may be instructed to assume a difficult stressful posture during meditation. In such a condition, the student may be instructed to study the effects of the posture during the session.