How To Sit For Meditation with Perfect Posture

The Best Coaches / Teachers

In sports, the best coaches are not always the best players. Often they start out just average. For these types, they typically have to work hard just to become above average. In fact, having to struggle to overcome hurdles is what made them good coaches.

When I first started meditating I was not a naturally "good sitter." Right out of the gate I did regularly attempt to sit on the ground. However, it took me about five years to be able to comfortably sit on the ground. My exact progression was actually...

  • YEAR 1 & 2: sitting in a chair...
  • YEAR 3 & 4: graduating to a bench...
  • YEAR 5: finally sitting comfortably, cross legged, on the ground


  • I have a condition called femoroacetabular impingement (including cysts and labral damage in my hips.)
  • I grew up with "stiff guy" genetics
  • I grew up in a Western culture where sitting on the ground is rare, therefore I had no practice!

As you can see,  I had a few hurdles to overcome...

So Why Should You Listen To Me?

It took me years of diligent practice to finally be able to sit on the ground. By contrast, I've met people who sit easily and naturally from Day 1.

However, these naturally flexible people often can't teach others how to comfortably sit (because it's always been easy for them!) Fortunately, my early failures helped me identify the easiest meditation posture for people who are not naturally flexible. 

Besides being a former "tin man" who became flexible, my qualifications for teaching meditation posture are as follows:

  • I've been meditating 1-3 hours per day since 2012 
  • I've attended 13 ten-day retreats, and several 20-day & 30-day retreats (100-300+ hours of meditation each retreat)
  • I've volunteered and served numerous other 10-day and 3-day retreats
  • I've been studying and teaching posture & flexibility for over a dozen years

In total, I've probably had over 6,000 - 8,000 hours of sitting meditation practice. Additionally, I have a background in anatomy/kinesiology/biomechanics. This combination of theory + practice  forms the basis of what I'm about to teach you...

However, before we talk technique, let's talk tools...

What's The Best Meditation Cushion?

It's important to do your own experimentation. Different people prefer different things. If you go on a 10-day retreat ( these meditation centers will have several cushions available for you to experiment with.

With that said, having experimented with various chairs, benches and cushions, my #1 recommendation is the Mobile Meditator from

The shape of this cushion allows you to get your feet closer to your body. This makes your knees more comfortable. This cushion is also lightweight and good for travel. 

Now, on to the meat and potatoes!

The 5 Principles for Perfect Posture

The video (at the top of this page) is how to sit for meditation with perfect posture. In the video I teach you exactly what to do with your:

  • Feet, knees, hips
  • low-back, shoulders
  • head and hands

But hold up...what exactly is "perfect posture"? Is it just some vain ideal only achieved by youthful yogis on Instagram?

No...Perfect posture just means that you align all of your joints in such a way that you don't have to use any muscular effort to maintain that posture.  You're just fully supported by your skeletal structure.

To be clear, there's not one ideal meditation posture for everyone but there are five key principles that almost any position you take needs to follow (to be biomechanically optimal.)

So what are those five principles?

PRINCIPLE #1: Soles Up, Feet Close

Principle #1 starts with your feet. 

  • Turn the soles of your feet up to the sky.
  • Pull them in as tight as you can (almost underneath yourself.)
  • Let your ankles rest one in front of the other
  • Let the knees drop down to the ground

Principle #2: Knees Below Hips

The picture above is not sustainable. Not only because the arms are not resting on anything, but also because the knees are higher than the hips. This is the difference between meditation posture and meditation pictures...

To sit comfortably for longer periods, the opposite needs to happen. In fact, the knees lowering to the ground is PRINCIPLE #2. To accomplish this you've got to sit on an elevated surface and follow principle #1 so that the knees can go lower than the hips. 

As the chain reaction of good posture continues, the knees going lower than hips automatically makes principle #3 happen. 

PRINCIPLE #3 & 4: Neutral Lumbar and Chest Open

PRINCIPLE #3 is a natural, neutral lumbar curve.

Neutral means not excessively arched and not rounded / slumped. Either position (arched or slumped) will lead to pain and fatigue during longer sits. A neutral lumbar curve causes everything upstream to align perfectly. The shoulders naturally open which is PRINCIPLE #4. 

PRINCIPLE #5: Head Softly Balanced

Due to principles 1-4, the last PRINCIPLE #5 also naturally happens.  The head effortlessly stays softly balanced directly on top of your spine. 

NOTE: I do not advocate artificially forcing a chin tuck (as some recommend.) I believe that if you learn how to properly massage and stretch your neck it will naturally align like this, but it should not be forced.

So now that we've dealt your feet, knees, hips, low-back, shoulders and head... 

Where Do You Rest Your Hands?

What you do with your hands is kind of dependent on the length of your arms.

  • If you've got really short arms you might have your hands in your lap.
  • If you've got a little bit of longer arms you may prefer palms up on your thighs.
  • To feel a bit more grounded your hands can go face down on your thighs.  

I prefer hands palms up because it biomechanically externally rotates the shoulder which stabilizes the shoulder joint and opens the chest (principle number four.) This is the position that I meditate in most of the time and I think that for the majority of people is optimal.



  1. soles of the feet turned up, one in front of the other, and tucked in close 
  2. knees below below hips
  3. soft neutral lumbar curve
  4. chest open 
  5. head softly balanced

This is going to be the most sustainable position and it requires the least muscular effort for longer meditations. If you follow this checklist, you won't have to exert any muscular effort and will naturally stay in good posture. It will take a little fine-tuning and subtle experimentation. Eventually, you will be able to sustain this for up to an hour or longer as you practice more and more.

If your flexibility is stopping you, check out our 30 & 45-day programs below. 

Enjoy and be happy!


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About The Author

Shane Dowd, CES, CMP is the owner / founder of He is also a sports performance & mobility coach specializing in injury prevention and flexibility for athletes.



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