Lotus Pose


By YJ Editor  |  

(pod-MAHS-anna)
padma = lotus

Lotus Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions

Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front. Bend your right knee and bring the lower leg up into a cradle: The outer edge of the foot is notched into the crook of the left elbow, the knee is wedged into the crook of the right elbow, and the hands are clasped (if possible) outside the shin. Lift the front torso toward the inner right leg so the spine lengthens (and the lower back does not round). Rock your leg back and forth a few times, exploring the full range of movement of the hip joint.

See also Feel Your Full Bloom: Lotus Pose

Bend the left knee and turn the leg out. Rock your right leg far out to the right, then lock the knee tight by pressing the back of the thigh to the calf. Next swing the leg across in front of your torso, swiveling from the hip and not the knee, and nestle the outside edge of the foot into the inner left groin. Be sure to bring the right knee as close to the left as possible, and press the right heel into the left lower belly. Ideally the sole of the foot is perpendicular to the floor, not parallel.

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Now lean back slightly, pick the right leg up off the floor, and lift the left leg in front of the right. To do this hold the underside of the left shin in your hands. Carefully slide the left leg over the right, snuggling the edge of the left foot deep into the right groin. Again swivel into position from the hip joint, pressing the heel against the lower belly, and arrange the sole perpendicular to the floor. Draw the knees as close together as possible. Use the edges of the feet to press the groins toward the floor and lift through the top of the sternum. If you wish, you can place the hands palms up in jnana mudra, with the thumbs and first fingers touching.

Padmasana is the sitting asana par excellence, but it’s not for everybody. Experienced students can use it as a seat for their daily pranayama or meditation, but beginners may need to use other suitable positions. In the beginning, only hold the pose for a few seconds and quickly release. Remember that Padmasana is a “two-sided pose,” so be sure to work with both leg crosses each time you practice. Gradually add a few seconds each week to your pose until you can sit comfortably for a minute or so. Ideally you should work with a teacher to monitor your progress.

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Pose Information
Sanskrit Name
Padmasana
Pose Level
1
Contraindications and Cautions
  • Ankle injury
  • Knee injury
  • Padmasana is considered to be an intermediate to advanced pose. Do not perform this pose without sufficient prior experience or unless you have the supervision of an experienced teacher.
Modifications and Props
Matsyasana (pronounced mot-see-AHS-anna, matsya = fish), dedicated to one of the 10 main incarnations of the god Vishnu, the fish. A preliminary step on the way to full Padmasana is Ardha Padmasana (pronounced ARE-dah, ardha = half). After bringing the first leg into position, as described above, simply slip the lower leg under the upper and the foot to the outside of the opposite hip. If the upper leg knee doesn't rest comfortably on the floor, support it with a thickly folded blanket. As with its companion, be sure to work with both leg crosses for the same length of time during each practice session.
Deepen the Pose
When using Padmasana as a seat for meditation or pranayama, there's a tendency for students to cross their legs in the same way day after day. Eventually this can lead to distortions in the hips. If you are regularly using this pose as a platform for meditation or formal breathing, be sure to alternate the cross of the legs daily. One simple method to help you remember to do this is to bring the right leg in first on even-numbered days, the left leg first on odd-numbered days.
Preparatory Poses
Follow-up Poses
Beginner's Tip
During the cradle warm-up the outer ankle is often overstretched. Push through the inner edge of the foot against the upper arm to equalize the two ankles. Then when you bring the foot across into the opposite groin, see that you maintain this even stretch of the inner and outer ankles.
Benefits
  • Calms the brain
  • Stimulates the pelvis, spine, abdomen, and bladder
  • Stretches the ankles and knees
  • Eases menstrual discomfort and sciatica
  • Consistent practice of this pose until late into pregnancy is said to help ease childbirth.
  • Traditional texts say that Padmasana destroys all disease and awakens kundalini.
Variations
Matsyasana (pronounced mot-see-AHS-anna, matsya = fish), dedicated to one of the 10 main incarnations of the god Vishnu, the fish. Perform Padmasana. Then hold your feet with the opposite-side hands, lift your chest, and extend your neck and head. Slowly lean back with an exhalation until the crown of your head touches the floor. Cross the forearms, clasp the elbows with the opposite hands, and swing the forearms overhead, onto the floor. Take a few breaths. Finally, release the torso fully onto the floor and stretch the arms out on the floor, parallel to each other. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute. Inhale to come up, leading with the sternum and keeping the head back. Repeat with the other leg on top for the same length of time.