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Physical Facts of Meditation: The Spine
Posted In: Meditation And Spirituality  9/7/09
By: Yona Williams

When it comes to the positions and physical approaches to meditation, the world is filled with an array of teachings and spiritual traditions that involve various postures. In this article, you will learn some of the different ways to use the body for meditation, including the Lotus Position, where an individual attempts a cross-legged sitting posture.

Spine

Numerous meditative approaches teach the importance of keeping the spine straight – avoiding the habit of slouching the back. This practice aims to enhance 'spiritual energy' (also referred to as the 'vital breath,' 'life force' or the Kundalini) by promoting increased circulation. Being without shoes and performing positions while barefoot is often encouraged as a way to tap into your spirituality and stay comfortable. It is common for a meditator to sit on a chair while performing exercises involving the spine. Other ways include flat-footed positions (seen in New Thought), sitting on a stool, or walking in mindfulness – a technique associated with Theravada Buddhism.

A less formal approach is taken in traditions, such as kundalini yoga (where practitioners seek to awaken an inner knowledge). Sitting quietly in a traditional posture, this form of yoga also places emphasis on the potential to achieve fluctuations in breathing patterns or emotional states or kriyas, which are yogic spontaneous postures. Repetitive physical movements (like swaying) may take place when one is meditating in a sitting position. It is suggested to accept the natural flow of energy throughout the body, as it is seen as a way to deepen the experience of meditation.

Poses that rely on the spine or help treat back injuries include:

Lotus Posture (or padmasana): In ideal positioning, sit on the floor with your legs crossed for a posture that promotes stability in the spine. The lower half of your back will create a stabilized base for the spine. It is suggested to find a different posture if you suffer knee problems, as the position of your legs could cause discomfort.

Half Lotus (or ardha padmasana): Perform this posture by positioning only one leg crossed above the opposite thigh while the other leg is left resting below. Unlike the full lotus position, less strain is placed on the knees.

Easy Pose (or sukhasana): Because this posture is one of the easiest to hold, it is popular amongst beginner yoga practitioners. If you are interested in longer sessions of meditation, this pose calls for holding your hips slightly above the knees with the help of padding. Your legs will cross in front without overlapping. It is important to remember to keep your shoulder blades parallel to the hips. Open up your shoulder blades by keeping the spine erect. Position the crown of your head to turn towards the ceiling. Energy should easily flow throughout the body.


 

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