Let us take care of these two aspects while getting into meditation.
1) Body Position
The body should be in erect and relaxed stillness. The spine must be perpendicular to the Earth. The stomach should be empty. A check should be made of each part of the body that it is relaxed and not tense.
Check especially the muscles in the abdomen, neck and shoulders.
If sitting on a chair, the feet are flat on the ground, muscles relaxed. If on the floor or rug, legs are crossed in either lotus or half lotus position (this enables the back to remain straight for longer periods of time).
A pillow under the buttocks is helpful. The arms are resting on the knees with the palms relaxed opened upwards. Check the shoulders to make sure they hang naturally and are not tensed upwards. In this position the body will be of the least distraction and you will not be weighed down by discomforts and tenseness.
2) Movement of Breath
The rhythm and volume of the breath are directly related to our state of mind. A nervous or anxious mind produces irregular breathing rhythms. Anger generates rapid, short breaths. In a relaxed state our breath is deep, rhythmical and longer in duration. We may reverse this process and affect the mind through breath control.
Relax the abdominal muscles and begin breathing with the diaphragm in long even inhalations and exhalations. Nothing should be forced. Do only what comes easily and naturally. If you are not used to breathing with the diaphragm, then spend some minutes each day on your back practicing this breath. It will develop gradually. With time the breath will be longer in duration; slowly and evenly in and out. There is no need to retain the breath. Keep an even relaxing rhythm. (In later stages of meditation you may be guided to retain breath. This is not suggested in the beginning).
It will be necessary to start the process consciously at first with a certain control over the mechanism of breathing. After a while this will take place automatically as you sit down to meditate or relax, just as you are now breathing automatically without thinking.
Eventually you will want to learn the "alternate breath" technique in which we alternatively breathe in through one nostril (holding the other closed) and then exhale out of the opposite nostril (now hold the other one closed). This technique is described in our book "SELF THERAPY", but you would do well to have an experienced yoga teacher check your position and method.
This technique is a very powerful means of creating balance and harmony in the bio-energy and the nervous systems. Scientific tests have shown that breathing only through the right nostril stimulates the left hemisphere of the brain, and that breathing only through the left nostril stimulates the right hemisphere. Thus, by breathing alternatively through one and then the other nostril, we create a harmonious balance in the nervous system.