Lotus Position: Everything You Need to Know
The Lotus Position, or Padmasana, is the quintessential yoga posture. But why is it so closely associated with the practice of yoga? It's probably because Lotus Pose is the ideal posture for meditation, as sitting in padmasana allows you to remain motionless and free of distraction for extended periods of time. Despite its seemingly simple nature, it's very important to do the pose correctly in order to enjoy all the benefits that it offers. The legs must be locked in together to keep the lower body fixed and balanced, and the back and spine must be held straight. Keep in mind this is a posture that not everyone may be able to achieve at first. You may need to ease into it over time.
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Flexibility, or a lack thereof, is the primary challenge of padmasana. This is why it's one of the tougher postures for beginners to perform successfully. It's flexibility in the legs that proves to be the biggest obstacle because people aren't typically accustomed to sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position. Sure, you probably did it a lot as a child in kindergarten, but as a full-grown adult you probably aren’t as limber as you were then.
Related: What Is Restorative Yoga?
That doesn't mean you can't recapture that ability once more. You just need to work your way back to getting that flexibility and ease of movement in the legs, hips, and lower body. Before jumping into Lotus Position, try a couple of these poses that are ideal for opening up the hips:Half Lotus Pose
For this posture, begin seated on the floor with both legs extended, spine in proper alignment, and your arms at your sides. Bend your right knee and hold it tight to your chest. Turn your right ankle to the left hip with the bottom of the foot facing upward and resting on your hip.
Next, bend your left knee and keep your left ankle underneath the knee of your right leg. Make sure your spine is kept in alignment. You can place your hands and arms in any number of positions. Exit the pose by straightening your legs and then repeat by switching the legs.
This is another good posture for slowly opening up the lower body. Start by sitting on the floor with both legs out straight ahead of you. Line up the middle of your torso with your right leg, lengthening the spine.
Exhale as you bend forward at the hips over your right leg. Bring the thigh of your right leg down as you flex your foot. Grab the shin of your right leg, (it can also be the foot or ankle if you prefer). If you can't reach that far down yet, feel free to include a yoga strap to achieve the posture. Make sure to keep the front of your torso straightened out, and watch that you aren't allowing your back to curve. Allow your belly to touch your thigh, followed by your chest, and then the rest of your torso until your head and nose touch.
Inhale and lengthen your torso, exhale and fold in. Stay in position for half a minute and then release by moving your tailbone to the floor on your inhale and bringing your torso up. Straighten your left leg and repeat the pose with the right.
The first thing to remember when practicing Lotus Position is to not overdo it. The knees must be touching the floor in order to do this pose correctly, but if your knees don't touch the floor, don't worry. They will eventually, but for now just do what you can. The more flexible you become, the easier it will be to get your knees where they are supposed to be.
1. Seat yourself comfortably on the floor in a cross-legged position with the legs folded.
2. From here, bring your left leg up and place it on your right thigh, then lift your right leg and place it on your left thigh. At this point, the knees typically should be touching the floor. If you aren’t able to do that right away, don't force yourself or overexert your legs or hips to get there. Let this evolution occur naturally.
3. Adjust your legs and feet so the bottoms are facing upwards and the heels are nestled in tightly against the waist.
4. Now that your legs are in proper position, keep your spine in alignment, and open your chest up, being careful not to slouch. Keep your back straight, but avoid being rigid.
5. Put your hands in between your feet, with your left palm over the right.
6. As mentioned earlier, don’t let yourself become too rigid. Relax the muscles in your shoulders, abdomen, and chest. This doesn't mean you should slouch down - remember to remain in alignment.
7. Finally, maintain even breathing. With slow deep inhales and exhales, stay focused on your breathing and clear your mind of everything else.
While the pose seems relatively simple to perform, don't force your body into a position it is not ready for yet. Remain in the pose so long as you are comfortable. If there are any indications of pain or discomfort, release at once, but do so slowly. For the purposes of meditation, remain in the posture for about 20 minutes; longer if you are comfortable. Most importantly, with consistent practice you can fine-tune your body and realize that you are able to keep the position for longer periods of time.
A good rule of thumb, as always, is to listen to your body. It knows what it needs and it will tell you. When you are seated in Lotus Position for meditation, remain in the pose only if you are able to focus on your meditation and not a nagging sense of discomfort. If your body is telling you it needs to come out of the posture, you're not meditating anymore.
Since Lotus is often performed during meditation, one of the biggest benefits is to help calm the mind and body. It can also be useful for stretching the legs at the hips, knees, and ankles while strengthening the upper back and the spine.
This pose can also increase circulation along the lower body. For women experiencing menstrual cramps, this circulation can soothe their discomfort.
Anyone who has experienced a recent injury to the hips, knees, or ankles should avoid Lotus Position. If you have a chronic injury, this is not the pose for you. Even if you don’t have an existing injury, it’s a good idea to be supervised by an experienced instructor who will notice if you are doing something wrong and help you to correct it. Lastly, be sure to stretch before you attempt Lotus Position. It's very easy to pull something and hurt yourself when practicing this pose, which could turn into a long-term problem.
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