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The type of meditative posture used by a meditator is based on what type of meditative practice he or she is practicing, their physical fitness, and personal flexibility. Mediation postures differ because each one can offer a different setting for a meditative experience. For example, taking a lying down meditative posture will encourage a very relaxed meditation. On the other hand, some active practices are best taken in a more mobile way, like using standing or walking meditative postures. Different types of well-known, sitting meditative postures, like the lotus and tailor yoga poses, offer options for those looking to stay alert and grounded at the same time.
One of the most well-known meditative postures is the basic lotus pose, which can be altered into related poses, like the half lotus, if the need arises. The full lotus is practiced be crossing the legs and resting the right foot on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh. A cushion is often times used in sitting meditative postures; it is recommended that it be between 2 to 6 inches (5.08 to 15.24 cm) and be firm enough that it is not compressed when sat upon. Whichever sitting posture is practiced, all should be practiced with a relatively straight, but not rigid, spinal column. This helps the practitioner find a balance between a state of alertness and relaxation.
While many teachers discourage students from lying down while meditating, there are some instances where this meditative posture is recommended. Sometimes, lying down is the best option for practitioners with back problems and for those who have difficulty maintaining a relaxed state for the duration of practice. Different lying postures can be experimented with until a posture is found that finds a balance between relaxation and alertness. Practicing with very relaxed postures can help a beginning meditator quiet the mind in less time.
One common lying meditative posture is the semi-supine position. In this position, the person lies flat on his or her back, bends the knees so that they are up and pointed at the ceiling, and may use a small cushion underneath the base of the neck. The feet should be planted on the floor in the same area that would be natural if they were lying completely flat. This semi-reclined position offers comfort, but has enough muscle integration that the practitioner can resist falling asleep. Often times, a combination of sitting, lying, and mobile postures are used in an attempt to integrate mediation into the practitioner’s everyday lifestyle.