Do I need to Sit Cross-Legged

Do I Have to Sit Cross-Legged to Meditate?

Today I’d like to answer a question from one of my readers.

Jodie asks…

“I’m quite new to meditation and I’m really struggling to sit with my legs crossed on the floor. Will sitting with my legs flat out in front of me, make the meditation less effective?”

Cross-legged isn’t the only option

Well Jodie, first of all, thanks for the question. Almost all of the images you see of people meditating have them sat on the floor in the lotus position. But many, many people struggle to sit this way, at least initially.

In practice, there are only a few ‘rules’ you should follow…

  • Keep your back straight, but not forced.
  • Tuck the chin in slightly, as though you’re looking at a point about four feet in front of you.
  • Hands should either be resting just behind the knees, or in your lap, with the right hand resting on the left, with the  tips of the two thumbs touching (Dhyana Mudra).
  • Shoulders should be relaxed and shouldn’t be hunched over.

Different sitting positionsIf you’re finding sitting cross-legged difficult, there are a couple things you can try.

  • Sit up straight on an upright chair (a dining room chair is ideal). But sit forward, so your back isn’t resting on the chair back.
  • Kneel on the floor (Seiza pose) with a cushion, or pillow between your thighs and calves. Again, keep your back straight.

You can sit on the floor with your legs out straight if you want, as long as you’re sitting on a cushion, etc. Making your rear slightly higher, helps open up the angle of your stomach, so your abdomen isn’t compressed.

If sitting is making you uncomfortable, you can lie on the floor. Make sure you make these two adjustments though.

  1. Place a small cushion, or rolled towel under your head.  This brings your chin down slightly, extending the spine,  just like the sitting positions would.
  2. Bring your knees up, so that your feet are flat on the floor in the position your knees would be if your legs were flat. (or as close as you can get comfortably)

Here’s a short video from Savannah Power Yoga that demonstrates the sitting positions above.


Well, I hope that helps Jodie? In the end, at least in the beginning, it’s more important to be comfortable than perfect.
If you try to sit in the ‘approved‘ positions and it’s uncomfortable, you can’t concentrate on the process of meditation. You’re mind will be constantly drawn to trying to relieve the pain, usually by fidgeting.
If you’d like to be able to sit cross-legged, why not try putting a cushion under each knee,? Long term, you could try one of these options. This will relieve some of the  pressure and should be more comfortable.
Even if you only meditate for a few minutes each day, the position will become more comfortable the more you try it.
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