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Asana Column: Padmasana (Lotus Pose)

Let this quintessential meditation pose teach you to focus on your path, not on your destination.

By Donna Farhi

The movement of your right knee towards the floor should be accomplished by a deep rotation in the hip socket, not by sickling the ankle and torquing the knee. Go slowly, and never move further into Padmasana if you experience pain in your knees—they are very unforgiving joints once they are injured.

Most yoga students seem to think that Lotus requires them to rotate the thigh bone (femur) inside the fixed position of the pelvis. While this is not incorrect, moving the femur relative to the pelvis is less effective in the later stages of the posture than moving the pelvis around the femur. In each of the preparatory poses that follow, the pelvis is rotated around the fixed point of the femur, creating a deep release for the rotator muscles of the hip. When you have completed the entire preparatory series on one side (or as much of it as you can do safely), take a walk around and compare your legs. You may be very surprised at the dramatic difference in their mobility.

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and gently draw your right leg up into Ardha Padmasana. Slowly bend forward over the standing leg, extending from the heel of the right foot high up into the groin. Using your hands on the floor for balance, adjust the hips so they are level with the floor. Consciously focus on releasing the femur of the Lotus leg downward with the help of gravity. As you do so, breathe deeply into your lower abdomen, allowing the pelvis to oscillate around the femur. Full breathing moves the pelvis and thus provides a deep internal massage to the hip joint. Stay for at least a minute, welcoming the sensations that arise. Then, without removing your leg from Lotus, slowly bend your standing leg. Use your hands for support as you transition into the next movement.

Bharadvajasana II

Carefully place the left knee, shin, and foot on the floor in a kneeling Virasana (Hero Pose). Your right leg will still be in Lotus. If your right knee is off the floor, place soft but firm support (a towel or rolled mat) under the knee. As you exhale, turn your belly towards the right, placing your left hand on the outside of your right thigh. Then, cup your right knee in your left palm so that the fingers point back toward your outer right hip. In this position you can gently draw the femur out of the socket as you turn into the twist. (This will create space and freedom in the hip joint.) Reach around and catch hold of the right foot with your right hand. If this is not possible, bring the right hand onto the floor behind you and use it as a support to keep the spine erect. As you inhale, focus on lengthening up through your spine; as you exhale, allow the torso to move more deeply into the twist. Because we're using the posture to prepare for Lotus, don't be concerned with doing your maximum twist. Instead, concentrate on drawing your right femur out of the socket as you release the right side of the pelvis back away from the femur. Breathe slowly and remain in the pose for at least a minute.

Bharadvajasana II Variation

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