|Sanskrit Pronunciation||pod-MAHS-anna, Padmasana (पद्मासन)|
|Meaning||padma - lotus
Asana - Pose
|Pose Type||Seated posture|
|Pose Level||Intermediate, practice 10 to 15 minutes|
|Beneficial In||Soothes nervous system & brain. Activates muladhara, swadisthana, ajna and sahasrara chakras.|
|Known as||Lotus pose|
Even the people who are not in yoga knows it by a single name, the lotus pose. One of the most recognized yoga pose, lotus pose, is also an ancient sitting posture. Yogis used to perform it to get steadiness in their meditation & pranayama practice.
Different practices in yoga are named after the beautiful blooming lotus flower, one such is Padma mudra, and here the other Padma asana! Yes, the Sanskrit name Padmasana depicts that state of lotus flower when its petals are ready to fully bloom. When one is mastered in the lotus pose, their feet soles pointing upwards looks like the petals of a lotus flower. This opening of feet towards the sky symbolizes enlightenment and fearlessness.
Before you go into performing part of the Lotus pose, its ancient roots can make you encouraged to go through any physical obstacle that comes in its way.
Lotus Pose: History and Philosophy
Mostly the illustration of Lord Shiva, Buddha, and many ancient yogis can be seen in sitting a cross-legged posture while putting hands over the knee in Gyan mudra. Indeed, the Pasupati (lord of animals) seal 1 we got from Indus Valley civilization was also in some seated posture. These cross-legged postures are none other than but the Lotus pose. These figures suggest lotus pose has come practiced from a long history.
Another Hatha Yoga text, Hatha Yoga Pradipika has stated in verses 46 and 49 3 that Lotus pose is the destroyer of all diseases and only wise can master it. In some other yogic texts, Padmasana is mentioned by a synonym name Kamalasana.
Philosophy of Working
Why Lotus pose is considered the best seated meditative pose because of its locking down mechanism. Usually, our lower body is shaky (even it’s not visible) when we sit for meditation practice. In lotus pose, our body especially the lower back and sitting bone came in such a position that it firmly binds all physical movements.
Another thing is when sitting bone is correctly grounded, our spine naturally got its true alignment. When the spine is correctly aligned, Prana starts flowing through Sushmana Nadi (the central energy channel), that further fires up the Ajna Chakra.
This way Padmasana is best for sitting without any physical disturbance in long hours of meditation. Ancient yoga practitioners have stated that the practice of Padmasana for 15 minutes without any pause makes one ready to practice pranayama.
While for most of the beginners, Lotus pose looks very simple to attain but mastering it is not that easy. Although it can be a piece of cake for you if there’s natural flexibility in your hips but if not have, anyone can develop this mobility in hips with time & consistent practice.
If you’re a beginner want to sit in lotus pose, simply examine your hips mobility by sitting into bound angle pose and see if both sides knee touching the ground without any stretching. Is it easy for you? Then you will find it easy to come into the lotus pose.
If your hips not allowing you to fully move through your knees, it’s better to first practice Easy pose (Sukhasana) or Half-lotus pose. Other poses you can consider in warm-up preparation of lotus pose are:
- Janu Sirsasana (Head-To-Knee Pose) – In this pose flexion of the knee joint happens and hips muscle stretches which are good for lotus pose.
- Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) – This pose will give your thighs and knees extra opening to smoothly flow in Lotus pose.
- Paryankasana (Couch Pose) – Any stiffness in ankles and lower back will be released by this pose.
How to Do Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
- Sit with your legs extended towards one edge of the mat, feet together, spine starlight, arms resting next to hips. It’s an initial pose called staff pose (Dandasana).
- From staff pose, reach down, grab the ankle of the right leg with your hand, bend the knee and lift it up to the upper body. Then wrap up your bend lower leg with elbows and roll this leg side by side for a few breaths to release any tension in the hip joint. It’s called Leg Cradle.
- Now place your outer edge of right ankle on the left groin in such a manner that foot’s sole faces the sky like lotus flower petals bloom freely. It’s one-legged lotus pose.
- Next, do the same with the left leg. Grab your left ankle, bend it from knee, lift up and swing it side by side for a few breaths. Then, cross the left ankle over the right shin and place it over the right groin in the same way as we did with the right leg (sole facing upwards). It’s full lotus pose.
- With both legs crossed, press heels firmly against lower belly and place your hands on knees facing up. Hands can be placed in some yoga mudras based on the Pranayama or meditation practice.
For meditation, Gyan mudra and Dhyana mudra are the most suitable hand gesture you can make in lotus pose.
- If you’re comfortable, hold the pose and take a few deep breaths. In traditional Padmasana, the head is brought forward just like in the Chin lock and gaze is fixed at the nose tip. It’s called nasikagra drishti.
- In order to balance both sides of hips, the same procedure is done left leg first (instead of right leg). For that, to come out the pose, slowly grab your upper leg first & then lower and extend it forward as at the beginning of the pose (staff pose).
Hand Mudras for Padmasana
- Jnana or Gyan mudra – With palm up and the tips of index finger and thumb touching each other.
- Chin mudra – With the palm facing down the and the tip of the index finger touching the tip of the thumb.
- Dhyana mudra – With both hands on the lap, the right palm placed on the top of the left palm, and both the thumbs touching each other.
Follow-Up Poses of Padmasana
Paschimottanasana ( Seated Forward Bend Pose) and Savasana (Corpse Pose) are recommended after lotus pose to bring the blood circulation of the legs back to the normal. Some other poses you can try after lotus pose are:
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downard Facing Dog)
- Badha Padmasana (Bound Lotus Pose)
- Supta Padangusthana (Reclining Head-To-Big-Toe Pose)
- Matsyasana Variation Lotus (Fish Pose Variation Lotus)
- Utthita Padmasana (Elevated Lotus Pose)
Modifications and Variation
To make sure bend knee won’t hurt you when doing lotus pose for an extended period of Meditation and pranayama, it’s recommended to modify or change pose accordingly.
Padmasana For Beginners
- Ardha Padmasana: It is a half pose of Padmasana, where a foot is placed over the opposite thigh and then change the foot alternately.
- Virasana: Known as Hero Pose, where the left foot is placed on the right thigh and right foot placed under the left thigh.
- Samasana: In this pose, the body remains in symmetry or equilibrium. Place the left foot at the beginning of the right thigh and right foot at the beginning of the left thigh.
- Karmukasana: While sitting in Padmasana catch the big toe of the right foot with the right hand and the big of the left foot with the left hand. Your arms should be crossed behind your back.
- Utthita Padmasana: Place your palms on the mat and elevate your body while sitting in Padmasana.
- To make pose comfortable, keep a folded blanket or bolster under the hips to bring knee under the ankle.
- If one side knee is lifted (probably would be of upper leg side) then place a folded blanket to balance the elevation of both sides.
- If you regularly do pranayama or meditation in Padmasana, be sure to alternately change the crossed legs daily. As the continued crossing of the same leg in this position can lead to distortion of the hip.
Benefits of Padmasana
- Soothing effects on the nervous system and brain.
- Brings the steadiness of the body and mind.
- Stimulates the muscles and nerves of the pelvis, abdomen, spine, and bladder.
- Helpful during menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
- Direct the flow of the prana from the base to the crown of the head.
- Activates the Muladhara, swadisthana, ajna, and Sahasrara chakras.
- Awakens the dormant kundalini energy.
- Releases the tightness in the SI joint 4 and hip flexor muscles.
- Cures constipation, flatulence, and indigestion.
Contraindications and Cautions
If you had recovered from any recent surgery or chronic injury please consult a doctor before practicing this pose. Lotus Pose may seem simple but it is considered to be intermediate to advanced asana. Hence, beginners should do this asana with caution or under the supervision of an experienced yoga instructor.
Padmasana should be avoided in the following conditions:
- Weak or injured ankle and knee joint
- Hip injury, sciatica or sacral pain
- Severe back or neck injury
- Pashupati seal https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pashupati_seal
- Patanjali’s Yoga Sutraswith The Commentary Of Vyasa https://archive.org/details/PatanjalisYogaSutras
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika https://terebess.hu/english/Hatha-Yoga-Pradipika-Muktibodhananda.pdf
- SI Joint Pain https://www.medicinenet.com/sacroiliac_joint_pain/article.htm