A meditation posture is a posture in which someone feels comfortable sitting for an extended period of time while meditating. When people think of meditation, they often think of the lotus position, a very classic meditation posture, but it's not actually necessary to use this position for meditation. If it is uncomfortable or challenging to sit in lotus, it can actually interfere with meditation, and everyone needs to find a pose which works for their individual needs.
Several characteristics should be true of any pose chosen for meditating. The first aspect of a meditation posture is that it should be comfortable. The meditator should feel like the pose can be held without causing pain, cramps, soreness, or aches which might be distracting and unpleasant. The second feature of the pose is that it should be stable, allowing the sitter to be balanced without having to work to stay balanced.
It is also important to choose a meditation posture which will allow the sitter to remain alert. During the session, the sitter should be able to sink deep into the body and mind while still remaining conscious and awake. This is one reason lying postures are often discouraged, because it can be easy to sink into an unconscious state when reaching deep meditation.
Often, a meditation posture takes a crosslegged form. People can also interlock their legs in other ways, lie down if they are in pain or discomfort, or kneel. Some people support themselves with cushions. In all the cases the spine should be straight, the body relaxed, and the sitter comfortable. People may find that it takes months or years of meditation practice to find a meditation posture which works for them, and when meditation is combined with practices like yoga, they may periodically change postures as their bodies grow more flexible, toned, and strong.
In group meditation sessions, people are often encouraged to take the same posture, but it is not required. If a posture is uncomfortable or not possible, another variation can be used. Meditation teachers and fellow meditators tend to be accommodating, helping people find a place where they feel stable, alert, and comfortable so that they can enjoy the meditation session. It is hard to obtain benefits from meditation in an environment which is stressful or painful, and if people feel unwelcome at meditation sessions because they do not use the “right” meditation posture, they should find another group to work with.