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If your Padmasana knee doesn’t touch the floor …
Try supporting it with a block.
Use the lowest height possible while still keeping your knee safe and pain free. Your ultimate goal is a neutral line or downward slope from hip to knee. Breathe and soften your inner groin to your inner knee. Roll your inner knee to your outer knee, and draw your outer knee into your outer hip. Come out if you feel any knee pain.
If your hips and knees are tight …
Try sitting on 3–5 folded blankets with your Padmasana leg and both buttocks elevated on the blankets, and your Virasana shin on the mat.
Sit back far enough that your entire Padmasana leg rests on the blankets and your knee is pain free. Place your Padmasana sole either near your left inner thigh, or, if you’re able, at the hip crease. Never force a tight knee into Padmasana: With practice, the hip will open, the groin will soften, and the knee will become suppler.
If you can’t grab your Padmasana foot with your hand …
Try using a double-folded belt.
Loop the belt around the middle of your Padmasana foot and place the ends behind you on the floor. Reach your Padmasana arm around your back and grab the belt ends, then walk your hand down the belt toward your Padmasana foot. Grip the belt where you can still get spinal extension and rotation.
See also Q&A: How Do I Prep for Lotus?
Tip: Focus on Your Foundation
B.K.S. Iyengar translates Yoga Sutra II.46—sthirasukham asanam—as “asana is perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence, and benevolence of spirit.” Keep this sutra in mind while practicing asana, especially when approaching poses with Padmasana legs. When we cultivate a firm foundation in our yoga poses, we can control our move- ments and create mobility. Work methodically, step by step, with a steadiness of intelligence to safely move deeper into poses. Approach your practice with a benevolence of spirit—be kind to yourself so you can benefit from the practice of yoga. As Iyengar wrote in Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, “Performance of the asana should be nourishing and illuminative”—not damaging and distracting.
See also Who Was Pantajali?
About Our Pro
Iyengar Yoga instructor Koren Paalman studied with B.K.S. Iyengar and his daughter Geeta, and has been teaching yoga since 1995 to both adults and youths in a variety of settings. In 2007, Paalman founded Conscious Grieving, a grief-support service that combines yoga with other modalities in individual consultations and workshops nationally. Learn more at korenyoga.com.