Meditating in lotus and half-lotus

These postures are only suitable for those who are very flexible. I have a friend who had to have the cartilage removed from his knees after years of forcing himself into lotus.

lotus positionIf you feel any pain in your knees, or this posture becomes very uncomfortable, then try one of the earlier postures that we looked at. You really can do yourself serious damage by trying to force your legs into positions that are uncomfortable.

In the full lotus, the feet rest on the opposite thighs, with the soles pointing upwards (if you have pain in your ankles then stop! and find an easier posture).

Full lotus is said to be the best position for meditating. The meditator who is able to sit comfortably in full lotus is close to the ground (which, for some reason, seems to be helpful in feeling “grounded”), and is also in a very balanced and symmetrical posture.

half lotus In the half-lotus, one foot is on the opposite thigh with the sole pointing upwards, while the other rests on the floor, as in the tailor position. This position comes very close to the stability and groundedness of the full lotus position.

Sitting on a chair or kneeling with cushions or on a bench are even more symmetrical postures, but there’s less contact with the floor. (If this business of not being on the floor puzzles you, then you need to experience the difference between meditating on a chair and meditating on the floor.)

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I had a friend who taught me the lotus position in 1st grade, I’m glad to finally know what it is called. Are their any poses that require more flexibility?

Learn Meditation » Robert JR Graham
December 29, 2012 8:06 pm

[…] in a room with your legs in either the half-lotus or full-lotus position. Make sure the room is as peaceful as possible and that you won’t be […]


I have just started to meditate. I only have one issue ( for now ) when i sit in or as i have discoverd … Any time my back is somewhat stright ( With a normal curve in the lumbar area that is). I have uncoverd a nagging pain in the area of my upper right back. There does not seem to be anything emotionaly attached here. Just a nagging pain. Perhaps a left over from my 30 years as a rock climber.
Do you have any recomendations for this ?


It’s very hard to say, Gregg. The two most likely things are that your hands aren’t supported high enough and that your back is tensing to stop the weight of your arms pulling your torso forwards, or your head is similarly jutting forward and the same tensing is happening. But it could be a misaligned vertebra, or something like that. I visit a chiropractor regularly, and it really works wonders. You also might find that useful.

If you can send me photographs of you in meditation, taken from the front and sides, I’d be happy to take a look. You can reach me at bodhi at the wildmind domain name.


I am 80 years old and have “meditated” in my own style for years. But I am now trying to meditate in a group under your instructions. I am in pretty good shape, but I find two things hard: keeping my head upright and keeping my eyes open. I have always bowed my head and closed my eyes, so now the habit seems entrenched. Any ideas to help me change?

A Beginner’s Guide to Beginning Meditation | david sasaki
February 7, 2014 12:33 pm

[…] studio. There are lots of different types. I went with the most basic. Now I meditate in the “half-lotus position” with my right foot below my left knee and my left foot above my right knee. I simply rest my […]


We tend not to have strong knees in my family. I’m twenty nine years old, started meditating three months ago, and have been doing a bit of yoga (about fifteen minutes’ worth) prior to meditation for about the same length of time. I have a zafu and zabuton. Had been kneeling by straddling the zafu and some folded up towels but recently began the half lotus which I find is a great improvement for my posture. I do experience some slight but usually bearable tension in the knee of the leg that has its foot on top of the opposite thigh. This pain usually starts in the second half of the twenty minute session. Sometimes I extend that leg in the last two or three minutes just to be on the safe side or because it has fallen asleep. Long story short, am a little alarmed by your warnings — don’t want destroyed knees in middle age — does this sound alright? How do you know if you’re flexible enough?


I think you know you’re flexible enough, David, when you can sit without discomfort for the length of time you want to sit for. There are stretches you can do to increase your flexibility, so you might want to explore that. A yoga teacher would probably be able to tell you which exercises would be best. Sometimes these things aren’t obvious because different parts of the body are interrelated.

All the best!


Thank you!

R. Lambright
July 17, 2015 1:39 pm

As a recovering addict, both NA and AA suggest meditation and prayer. I’ve found it very useful. Clearing and focusing my mind. Sometimes I’ll meditate on Lao Tzu, the programs various daily readings… Or I’ll simply concentrate on the slowing tide of my breah. I use half lotus with left hand alms bowl, right hand shaolin in front of my breastbone. I’m not sure if this is right or wrong. Unfortunately I don’t know a thing about chakra or Chi power points. But, then again I no longer seek power anyway. I’m just following The Way as best I can.


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