Is it Okay to Meditate Lying Down?


What can be said to a student who teaches meditation and yet when they attend my Yoga class, she wants to lie down for the meditation portion? It seems so bizarre when everyone else is sitting up tall and she is sprawled out over the mat.

How do I correct diplomatically? Or is it OK to do what she's doing? I remember it not being OK in training class, but I don't recall why specifically.


Savitri Simpson
Ananda Village, California

One thing we discuss at length in Meditation Teacher Training (which you should take!!! — smile) is all the misconceptions about meditation which are afloat out there in the world today.

One major one is the confusion between deep relaxation in Savasana and true meditation, which should be done in a seated position with the spine erect. Many people out there teach "meditation" in a supine position. This really is leading people in the wrong way. Deep relaxation is great, but it is NOT meditation. Certainly it is easier to lie down than sit up straight, and I suspect that this is why it is sometimes taught this way.

But here is the reason why it is important to sit up. When you are in Savasana, the energy tends to spread out all over the body. It is much easier to slip into subconsciousness because of this. You don't necessarily go to sleep, but getting woozy and dreamy is often what happens and people not used to this sort of subconsciousness may think they are meditating when this happens. They are NOT! They are just being in a subconscious state that feels good.

People defending meditating this way often tell me that indeed they are not asleep or subconscious, and that they definitely "go to another place or dimension." I don't argue, but just gently explain about energy movements and suggest that they try meditating in an upright position, helping them find what position will work for them without too much discomfort (pillows, bench, chair with pillow behind them, etc.).

In any case, all the great yoga masters say you need to sit upright and energetically DRAW the energy upward in the spine through the various practices of pranayama and meditation techniques. Draw this person aside and explain GENTLY that if she is going to participate in the class, she needs to do as she is instructed when it is time to meditate. Having a person sprawled out on the floor tends to bring everybody else's energy down. It's not fair to those who are sincerely trying to meditate in the right (upright) way. Explain that if she wants to "meditate" on her own that way, then that is fine, but for purposes of what we are trying to do here, she needs to join in with the class.

Occasionally I will have someone who tells me they simply can't sit up due to back injuries. I work with them to try to find some comfortable upright (or semi-upright) position which will work for them. Usually there is a way if you just work on finding it. If it is truly out of the question, then I'll say OK to lying down under two conditions: 1) they remain in the back of the room out of the sight of the others who are sitting upright for meditation 2) that if they go to sleep and I can hear that through their breath (or snores!) then I reserve the right to ask them to leave or at the very least, leave before the next session.

It's kind of humorous to tell people that they were sleeping (snoring!) during meditation and they swear that they were NOT.

Lisa Holliman

Yogananda stated that lying down for meditation induces a subconscious state, thus sleeping. Superconsciousness meditation is with a back straight, shoulders back, chest up, energy focused upward towards the spiritual eye.

If she is having a problem with this you might direct her to Jyotish Novak's book, How to Meditate, or Swami Kriyananda's book, Awaken to Superconsciousness.

Any other concerns, check out the web site for meditation support (or just write to

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