Three yoga poses to help you sit still in meditation? I know it sounds counterintuitive to use dynamic poses to prepare for a static posture, but conditioning my body proved incredibly helpful for daily meditation.
Sitting still for a longer than a few moments was quite uncomfortable for me when I first tried to meditate (so was stilling the mind — but more on that in Friday’s post). My hips weren’t flexible enough to maintain a seated position and my back and core muscles weren’t conditioned enough to hold me up. Of course, I could have just moved from the floor to a chair or bed, but those pieces of furniture reminded me of work or sleep –neither of which helped me drop into meditation. Furthermore, the seated position tells my body that something different is taking place, much like putting on pajamas helps me feel ready for bed and putting on fancy clothes makes me feel ready to party. When I “put on” my meditation stance – seated on the floor, legs folded, with or without my back against the wall – I tell my physical body that it’s time to be present to meditation.
After nearly a year of consistent meditation, staying seated isn’t nearly the struggle it used to be. For one thing, I’m a bit more used to the practice. Secondly, regular yoga practice has helped me develop the strength and flexibility I needed to sit comfortably for a reasonable period of time.
If you’re looking for a bit more ease in seated meditation, check out the three poses below. Practice them individually, or as part of your regular yoga practice.
Starting on your belly, engage your quadriceps and draw your shoulder blades together. Place your hands at the low spine and clasp your hands. Take a deep breath, straighten your arms, and extend your clasped hands toward your feet. On your next exhale, lift your chest, thighs, knees, and feet. Feel the muscles in your low and mid back engage as you keep your gaze focused on your mat. Hold the pose for three to five breaths, and repeat one to three more times.
2. Stronger core: Half boat pose. Begin in a seated position, with bent knees pointing upward and the soles of your feet on the floor. Lift your heels, rocking back slightly to remain balanced; engage the low and mid belly as you straighten your back. Lift your shins higher, bringing them parallel to the floor. Use your abdominal muscles and hip flexors to pull your thighs and torso closer together. Extend your arms alongside your shins. Hold for five breaths and repeat four more times.
3. More flexible outer hips: Half lotus pose. Begin in a seated position with your legs extended straight in front of you. Cross your left ankle over your right thigh. If possible, bring your left foot closer to your right hip. Using the muscles in your inner left thigh, work your left knee toward the ground.If your knee doesn’t reach the ground comfortably, place a block or book under your knee to stabilize. Remain here or fold forward over your right leg. Hold for five to fifteen breaths and repeat on the opposite side.