each of the sitting positions I’ve described,
the positioning of legs is critical to supporting
the body so that the spine can be erect without
straining and still follow its natural curvature.
The entire spine is supported by the pelvis.
Centering - swaying
A good way to ensure that your body is balanced
and centered is to imagine that your spine is like
a pendulum on a metronome, that’s hinged at
the base with a weight at the top – the weight
at the top being your head.
Starting slowly in large arcs, let yourself lean
way over to your left while still maintaining the
alignment of your head and spine.
You may have a little difficulty in knowing whether
you’re leaning forward or backward. And so
you can do the same thing: Start bending well forward
and then backward. (Some people like to bend
so far forward they’re almost touching the
floor with their forehead; that’s ok, that
stretches out the back and aligns the pelvis.) And
again, let your momentum carry you through the decreasing arcs
until you coast to a stop — no effort involved
just natural coasting and allowing momentum to die
And if you sway both side-to-side and front-to-back
you can pretty much guarantee you’ve made yourself
a human plumb-bob.
Centering the spine
After all this, you want to straighten your
posture. A straight back does not mean a military
brace, nor should there be a sense of straining
to stay upright. And your spine naturally has a certain
degree of curvature to it.
An upright posture is a back supported
by the pelvis in the best
natural position possible. In the correct posture
your vertebrae aren’t compressed and squashed
down upon one another.
To achieve this, straighten your back so that you
can imagine your head pushing up the ceiling. This
subtle pushing action starts at the pelvis and moves
up the back.
tensing your shoulders or moving your head, just
let your spine begin to extend itself, from the base
of the spine upwards toward the head, carrying
the head with it as it straightens.
If you follow these instructions you should not
be using a lot of muscular effort to sit upright
and to stay there. Sitting straight and tall and
erect is mostly a matter of getting arranged properly,
rather than a tug-of-war against gravity. Pay attention
to your back. If if doesn’t hurt when you sit
for a half-hour, fine. But if you get any pain or
stiffness there, then you need to correct your posture.
You will have to experiment with all this a while
until you find to what degree each of these steps
fits your body and your needs. Remember, all these
techniques are primarily intended to help you find
and keep a comfortable, balanced, natural posture.
general, back pain is a signal that you aren’t
sitting straight. Always pay attention to
back pain or discomfort when sitting. Unlike
leg discomfort, back pain is significant
and should be heeded. If it persists, see
Positioning your head, mouth
Once you have settled into your posture, the next
step is to tuck your chin in slightly so that the
top of your head directly over your spine is the
highest point of your body.
Then close your lips, place the tip of your tongue
on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth
and evacuate some of the air from your mouth and
and swallow the saliva that may be there. The less
you salivate while sitting, the less swallowing you
will have to do. Swallowing can
be quite a distraction. When you become quite still
even the slightest stimulus stands out in sharp relief.
(If you can not breathe through your nose, breathe
quietly through your mouth. Adapt the instructions
to your realities.)
Lower your gaze until you’re looking at toward
the floor at
about a 45 degree angle, and allow your eyes to to
drift out of focus. Avoid moving your eyes.
This gaze, with your eyelids partly closed. also
helps avoid blinking, yet another potential distraction.
If you need to blink. please blink. Remember, what
we’re attempting to do is set up the favorable
conditions for you to have the opportunity to become
really still and quiet. If you are sitting facing
a blank wall, which eliminates much potential visual
distraction, imagine you are looking through the
wall at where the floor would be.
Arrange your hands in the position called the
cosmic mudra. (A mudra is a hand gesture
Rest the left hand on top of the right hand, palms
up, with the middle knuckles overlapping as though
we were holding something on the palm of our left
hand. Place the thumb tips together, ever so lightly
touching, almost as if you had were holding butterfly
wing between your thumbs.
Where you hold your hands depends on your sitting
position. The goal is to sit with no strain in the
upper arms or the shoulders and no muscular effort
required to keep the hands in their position. This
is important. If you sit with your hands unsupported,
you’ll find that you require a certain amount
of effort to keep them there and sooner or later
(as lactic acid accumulates) you’ll feel the
You may find it helpful to use a small cushion
to support your hands.
Some people find it useful to have a small cushion
on your lap and rest your hands on it. Depending
on the length of your arms, you might find it comfortable
to let your hands and wrists rest in your lap.
So allow your arms to rest, comfortably supported
at the wrists with your hands joined in the cosmic