When I started my meditation journey, back pain was one of the greatest obstacles I faced.
Not only did I find it difficult to reduce back pain during meditation, but I just couldn’t seem to get comfortable in general.
I tried wiggling my legs, itching, scratching, swapping legs, stretching during meditation, and even tried sitting on a bundle of household cushions.
But none of these methods worked for me.
I felt disheartened.
Was it just me struggling with back pain during meditation?
I would see all the images of people looking ultra relaxed and cool in their full lotus meditation poses and I couldn’t help but think that maybe there was something wrong with me or I was doing it all wrong.
You’re Not Alone in This
At times I felt like throwing in the towel BUT, after some basic research I realised that I wasn’t alone with this.
And gosh I’m glad I didn’t give up.
I discovered that experiencing discomfort during meditation was a really common thing. With many complaining about pain in their hips, knees, ankles and back.
The problem with back pain, is that it is a common barrier preventing beginners from building a consistent meditation practice.
instead, they find themselves procrastinating and not enjoying their practice.
We don’t want this!
Over my meditation journey, this is what I’ve learned.
- It’s normal for meditation to feel weird in the beginning
- It’s normal to experience some discomfort in a new pose
- There are many different meditation poses you can try to suit your body
- There are many different product solutions that can help
If you’re struggling to get comfortable during meditation, don’t throw in the towel just yet.
Hear me out and stay with me throughout the course of this article.
I’m confident that at least one of these tips could help you with your problem – reducing back pain during meditation.
Let’s explore them in more detail below.
5 Reasons Your May be Experiencing Back Pain During Meditation
There are many possible reasons why you’re experiencing neck and back pain during meditation.
For example, you can be experiencing discomfort due to:
- Poor flexibility or reoccurring stiffness
- A historical injury
- Weak core muscles
- Having poor posture to start with.
- Choosing the wrong meditation pose for your body
The reality is that for many of us, especially in the Western world, we are no longer used to sitting on the ground cross legged. Most of us graduated from this behaviour post-primary.
Yet, in many Asian and Eastern countries – sitting on the floor cross legged for long periods is common practice.
This is why we have to consider where our bodies are at, before we even start our meditation journeys.
Let’s explore these individually.
1. Poor Flexibility
A person who is greatly flexible, will find it much easier to contort into the more advanced meditation positions compared to someone who is not.
If you force your body into certain meditation poses before you’re ready, you’re going to experience pain regardless. And this is not good!
If flexibility is something you need to improve, that’s ok.
Just focus on improving your flexibility little by little each day until you’re where you want to be.
Start first with the more basic meditation poses, before you even look at the advanced styles. I promise, you will notice a drastic reduction in the amount of pain you feel during meditation.
2. Past Injuries
Alongside flexibility, a person with prior neck, back, hip or leg injuries will need to seek out poses that are less physically demanding.
Prior injuries can reduce movement in your body and also increase stiffness in the morning.
We want to work with this, not against it.
There’s no reason to force yourself to be uncomfortable. If you notice any sharp or aching pain whilst in a meditation pose, stop and change your positioning!
3. Weak Core Muscles
Many of us are no longer required to use our core muscles to support our upper bodies as much as we used to back in the day. These days, we’ve become accustomed to sitting at chairs and adopting bad posture habits overtime.
I know for me, it took me a while to feel comfortable sitting in a seated meditation pose with my back unsupported.
Due to having weak core muscles, I’d find myself slouching, overarching or straining my back muscles to hold myself up straight.
Maybe you’re experiencing a similar thing?
The trick is to practice.
Meditation does takes practice – just like going to the gym.
We must gradually strengthen our core muscles overtime by staying consistent and doing exercises that work muscles we’ve become unaccustomed to using.
4. Poor Posture Habits
Another common reason for experiencing back pain during meditation is related to poor posture habits.
When meditating, it is common for people to slouch or overarch their backs due to certain muscles overcompensating for others. This can lead to a lot of problems.
Slouching and overarching has the tendency to strain certain muscles in your back or neck, and can also bring your spine out of alignment.
The positioning of your head in relation to your spine and pelvis is also important.
Many forget about the angle of the pelvis during meditation, but it is actually one of the most important aspects of posture to consider.
Having your pelvis tilted too far forward or too far back, can impact the natural alignment of your spine. It can also be one of the key triggers for back pain and strained back muscles.
I talk all about the importance of alignment and meditation posture in our Meditation Poses for Beginners Guide.
5. You’ve Been Choosing the Wrong Pose for Your Body
When getting started with meditation, many beginners try to progress too quickly.
They jump ahead and skip the basic poses, and instead try and force their bodies into poses that look “cool” or are “instagram worthy”.
Don’t do this…
Meditation is a journey, not a destination.
Take your time! There’s no need to rush.
Start with a basic pose, and if that’s comfortable, great! Stay with it for a few weeks and then try another.
Finding the right meditation pose is all about trial and error and discovering what is most comfortable for your body.
There are many different poses you can try and choose from.
3 Simple Things You Can do to Reduce Back Pain During Meditation
To reduce back pain during meditation, there are several paths you can take.
1) Try an Alternative Pose
As mentioned above, if you’ve been experience back pain during meditation in your current pose, a simple solution is to change your pose.
There are numerous different poses available to try that may be better suited to your body to the one you’re currently doing.
For example there’s:
- Corpse Pose (lying down on the floor)
- Cross legged
- Quarter Lotus
- Half Lotus
- Full Lotus (Advanced)
If you struggle to stay still, you can also do meditation whilst moving (Eg. Walking, Tai-Chi, Yoga etc)
There’s honestly so many different options guys.
For me, I alternate between corpse pose, quarter lotus and half lotus depending on the time of day, my flexibility at the time and any lower back pain I experience.
I explain all of these poses and more in the Meditation Poses for Beginners Guide.
2) Use a Meditation Mat or Cushion For Added Comfort
Something that had a SIGNIFICANT IMPACT on my lower back pain during meditation was purchasing a Meditation Cushion.
Although I procrastinated buying a meditation cushion for ages, when I finally bit the bullet, it was so worth it.
Meditation cushions are great because they help to tilt your pelvis on the right angle, to promote the natural curvature in your spine.
They also provide added cushioning to your sessions which is much more comfortable compared to sitting on the floor.
In this article, I explain meditation cushions in detail if that’s something you’re interested in.
Here’s a link to the Meditation Cushion I personally use, in case you’re looking to get one for yourself.
It’s great quality, does the job and I’ve had no problems.
Yoga Mats can also be a great alternative.
Similar to a meditation cushion, yoga / meditation mats can improve the comfort of your practice by preventing you from sitting or lying directly on the floor.
They add a touch of cushioning and are very versatile. You can use your meditation mat for yoga and stretching exercises too.
3) Do Some Simple Yoga Exercises / Stretched Beforehand
A third tip you can try to reduce back pain during meditation is to do some simple Yoga exercises of stretched BEFORE you start your meditation practice.
Some of the stretches that I like to do are:
- Cat Cow Pose
- Downward facing dog
- Hamstring stretches
- Neck and shoulder rolls
- Triangle Pose
- Sun salutation sequence
- And many more…
I include a whole list of stretches and yoga poses you can try in our Meditation Poses for Beginners Guide.
Definitely grab your copy of the above guide if you’d like some guidance on:
- The Different Poses for Beginners & which one is best suited to you
- Stretching / Yoga exercises you can do before meditation
- Meditation Posture tips and recommendations
- Tips and recommendations on Meditation cushions, meditation mats or other products that can help to reduce back pain during meditation
As you should now be aware, you’re not alone in experiencing back pain during meditation.
It’s actually really common.
Of the above topics covered, you may have already noted down some things that may be contributing to your discomfort.
- Poor Flexibility
- Past injuries
- Weak Core Muscles
- Poor Posture Habits
- You’ve been choosing the wrong pose for your body
And now, you should have some ideas of what you can do to combat this.
- Try an Alternative Pose
- Use a Meditation Mat or Cushion for added comfort
- Do some simple stretches or yoga poses before you start to warm up your body
It’s always important to start with short meditation sessions and then grow overtime.
Don’t force your body to stay in a pose for long periods of time when you’re not used to it.
You need to build up gradually (just like at a gym).
I hope this article has helped you and that you can now experience greater comfort and focus during your meditation sessions.
If you’d like to get our Complete Meditation Poses Guide for Beginners, you can do so here.
Alternatively, start with out FREE introductory Meditation Poses Printable by entering your details below.
All the best and happy meditating!