Lotus Pose, Padmasana, (pahd-MAH-suh-nuh)
padma (lotus) + asana (pose)
Also Known as: Lotus Position, Vajra position, Full Lotus
Pose Type: Seated, Stretching
Come into Lotus Pose for meditation. It is said that Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree in Lotus Pose when he attained enlightenment.
Lotus Pose Fundamentals
One of the most iconic yoga poses – and one of the first ones ever created – Lotus pose is a symbol of both the physical and spiritual aspects of yoga. What makes Lotus so special, is that it is not just one of asanas used for building strength or flexibility, but is also considered to be the ideal position for meditation and breathwork.
Meanwhile, Padmasana is also an advanced pose.
It is not suitable for beginners, and it is also common among yogis to never feel entirely comfortable in the position, even after years of practice.
The pose requires a high level of flexibility, but there are also some anatomical reasons why some may never reach it. In this case, there are alternative seated positions, that can work just as well for meditation – so, don’t worry if Lotus is not in your practice.
Lotus pose has a beautiful symbolism tied to it. Not only does your body resemble a flowering lotus in the full expression the pose. You are also mimicking the nature of the flower, which roots in the mud, but when it grows it finally blooms into a gorgeous flower.
Lotus pose is a part of many Hinduistic images, and is frequently a pose in which gods and goddesses are depicted.
It has many spiritual and physical benefits – physically, it brings a sense of grounding, and energetically, it expands your energy and directs it towards the higher chakras or energy centers.
Lotus Pose Benefits
- Stretches the quadriceps and the ankles, opens and lengthens the ligaments and joints in the lower body, keeping them flexible.
- Strengthens the spine and upper back, consequently helping you to improve posture.
- Activates the parasympathetic nervous system and brings a sense of full-body relaxation.
- May reduce or manage blood pressure.
- May help ease menstrual pain and discomfort by improving circulation to the pelvis and releasing tension from the hips.
- Prepares the mind for meditation, and improves focus and concentration.
- Considered to be the “destroyer of all diseases”, according to Hatha Yoga Pradipika (written in the 14th century CE)
How To Do Lotus Pose: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
1. Sit on the mat with your legs extended in front of you, your spine long and your arms at your sides, in Seated Staff Pose (Dandasana). If you can’t keep a straight spine in the pose, feel free to place a blanket or a pillow beneath your hips.
2. Bend your left knee and cradle it in your arms, holding the knee and the foot. Rotate the leg inwards, beginning the motion at the hip instead of the foot. Place your left foot at the right hip crease. The sole of the foot should be facing up.
3. Then, bend the right knee and place the right ankle on the right shin. The sole of the foot should also face towards the sky.
4. Maintaining a straight spine, try to keep your knees as close to the floor as possible.
5. Place your hands on your thighs, palms facing up. Close your eyes, relax your face and begin to take slow, deep and conscious breaths. Hold the pose for as long as it is comfortable.
6. Release the pose by returning back to Dandasana. You can repeat the pose on the other side right away, or later in your session if you’re performing it during a yoga class.
Tips And Tricks:
- The circular range of motion of the hip joint required for Lotus pose is different for every person. That’s why this pose is easier for some people, and almost impossible for others. Don’t force yourself, and take your time with the pose.
- Before you attempt the Lotus pose, make sure you can sit in Half Lotus with your spine straight. If that is too difficult, try practicing with your back against a wall.
- If you use this pose for meditation or breathwork, make sure you alternate the cross of your legs approximately midway in your practice, to avoid developing any imbalances.
- If your knees don’t reach the floor in Padmasana, support them by placing a block or a folded blanket beneath each knee.
Lotus Pose Variation:
Lotus Pose Variation: Half Lotus pose
If full Lotus is too intense, uncomfortable or difficult to practice, begin with practicing Half Lotus.
In Half Lotus, only one foot is tucked into the opposite hip. The other leg can be extended, or you can place the other foot underneath the opposite knee, like in classic cross-legged pose. If Half Lotus is too challenging or causes any knee pain, build strangth and flexibility with Easy pose (Sukhasana).
Lotus Pose Variation: Bound Lotus Pose
If you’ve been practicing Lotus for a while, and feel comfortable in the pose, you can try this advanced variation.
Begin in Padmasana, then reach both arms behind your back, creating a cross with your arms. Then, grasp your toes with your fingers, for a deep stretch in your upper body. You can fold forward while holding the Bound Lotus pose for even a deeper stretch.
Precautions & Contraindications:
Knees off the ground. Although this is not necessarily a misalignment, if one or both knees are floating off the ground, it might indicate you still don’t have enough hip mobility to hold the full expression of the pose.
Overstretching the ankles. Make sure your feet are flexed and the soles of the feet are facing up, to protect the knees and ankles.
Spine not long. If you’re not able to hold the pose with your back straight, begin by practicing Half Lotus next to a wall.
Knee, Hip, or Ankle Injury
If you have any recent injury or chronic pain in the hips, ankles or knees, avoid practicing this pose. If you’re not certain Lotus pose is safe for you, make sure you speak with a medical professional or an experienced yoga teacher before you attempt it.
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