The Functional Difference between Meditating Lying Down vs. Sitting Upright: Addendum to this post
I know I've been emphasizing comfort and relaxation in my instructions, but I also want to point out that there is a reason why a lot of meditation techniques teach the upright sitting posture.
The upright sitting posture is far more conducive to activating all the chakra points in your body [see image]. When you breathe in deeply, gravity naturally allows the air you breathe in, if you are doing it correctly, to reach that very important chakra point in the lower most part of your body [see image]. It also helps if as you're breathing in you use your hands to guide the air through all the chakra points. Like that scene from Karate Kid 3 (or was it 2?) when Daniel-san puts his palms together and moves them up and down his body. Skip to 2:34.
[YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH6E4NDVTHw&feature=related"]Daniel-san activates his chakra points[/YOUTUBE]
Do this a few times before you start meditating and see how it helps. As you're breathing in, visualize these chakra points as if they were little power windmills inside your body. Breathing in deeply would then give these windmills the initial push to start moving on their own. This is essentially the purpose of breathing during meditation. I never mention it before, because breathing during meditation is just an understood fact of meditation. It is essential.
Unfortunately, lying down makes this process more difficult as gravity does not work in your favor when you are in that position.
Lying down is a personal adjustment I had to make as I've had a long history of lower back tension. I found it almost impossible to activate the lower chakra points by breathing when I am in that position. While less than optimal, if I wanted to at least moderately activate them, I had to be lying down. This requires a few more initial breaths, but honestly, if you can do it without feeling any tension, I would recommend the sitting posture. Same as before, soles of your feet together, and palms/fingers together. Depending on you, putting just your fingers together might be more comfortable. Though palms together is ideal, fingers together is fine, too. But it should be at least the fingers.
Some Differences in Breathing Techniques
Most often you will be doing what I personally refer to as gut breathing, because you are expanding and sucking in your gut as your breathe. Breathe in, expand the gut, breathe out, suck in the gut. Don't do this forcefully - staying relaxed is critical for the air to reach all chakra points. Any tension blocks the passage of air and energy in the body. As far as chakra point activation is concerned, this is all you need to be doing.
However, if you are ever experiencing anxiety and need some way to get relief, this is what has helped me in the past.
It's essentially chest breathing - the way you would normally breathe, but exaggerated. Figure out where your point of anxiety/stress is, (normally for me, it is in the chest area right where the heart is) and as you're breathing in, visualize the air softening up that point, as if your mind is in control of where the air you breathe in goes. Breathe in, chest expands, breathe out, chest decompresses.
OH! Also, important note to make about breathing in general. The ratio of breathing in time: breathing out time should be roughly 3 seconds to 5 seconds. You can do longer or shorter than that, but the time you take breathing out should generally be longer than the time you take breathing in. This is because the act of breathing out generates more power in the chakra points, than breathing in does, yet there is a "maximum rotational speed" that the chakra points can have, so you want to prolong the spinning as long as possible without wasting air. Haha, that might've been confusing, but if you still have the windmill image in your mind, this should make sense.
If you guys have any questions at all, please let me know, preferably on this thread so others can see the answer. I think Halla's experience has made me more willing to share what I know.