The lotus flower is a prolific symbol in Asian cultures. Although its significance varies across societies, it often symbolizes purity, peace, beauty and spirituality. Due to its beauty and symbolism, it is no surprise that this important flower is embodied in a yoga asana.
Like the flower it is named after, this seemingly simple seated yoga posture has a variety of layers and subtle variations. Lotus pose or Padmasana is one of the most recognized yoga asana (though some confuse it with Sukhasana or Easy pose) that appears simple, but is actually quite challenging and requires decent flexibility, especially in the hips.
Read on to explore how to get more comfortable in Lotus pose and allow the posture to truly blossom.
How to Enter Padmasana
To begin, sit on the floor and extend the legs. Carefully move any fleshy bits away from the gluteus, and stabilize your sit bones on the floor. Bend your right knee and bring the right foot toward the chest, slowly cradling and rocking it back and forth. Release the right foot to rest in the left hip crease.
Repeat this on the left side, crossing the left ankle of the right shin. Sit tall, pressing your groin to the floor. Place the hands in Gyan Mudra and rest them on your thighs. Gaze toward the third eye.
5 Tips to Make Padmasana Comfortable
Lotus pose is often used as a meditative posture, and therefore may be held for an extended amount of time. Gaining comfort in the pose may take time to build. This comfort, however, is necessary to get the most out of this classic posture.
1. Build Your Base
If Padmasana is not comfortable for you, try some other yoga poses to prepare for it. Sukhasana or Easy pose (pictured above) is a great way to build a stable base for the pose with less stretch on the hips.
Ardha padmasana (literally meaning half lotus) requires you to only place one foot in the opposite hip crease at a time. Again, another great way to build muscle memory and prepare to reach the full Padmasana safely and comfortably!
2. Open Your Hips with a Warm Up
It may be tempting to try and enter straight into this pose without warm up. This depends on your hip flexibility. Be sure to warm up the hips before you begin, and avoid this posture and its variations if you have hip, knee or ankle injuries.
To warm up in a supine position, come to Supta Baddha Konasana, placing the soles of the feet together and allowing the hips to fall open. Allowing the hips to passively open in this reclined posture sets a great base for entering Padmasana by allowing a stretch in hips and an external rotation of the thighs.
Another great way to warm up is to try hip circles. Place the spine on the ground and hug one knee toward the chest. Allow your hand to guide the knee and make small, large or medium circles toward the body, and then reverse, away from the body. Do this for one to three minutes on each side, allowing the hip joints to warm up and loosen before entering Padmasana.
3. Use A Prop or Two to Roll with It
If you have tight hips or your legs will not fall open, try rolling blankets or yoga mats to place under each knee. This will “raise” the floor toward you, and offer support in the pose. You can also sit on a blanket to provide extra cushion and support!
4. Switch It Up
Traditionally, it is suggested to place the right foot on top in order to stimulate the liver and spleen located on the lower right quadrant of the abdomen. However, switching this pattern will push you outside of your comfort zone, help you create mindfulness by observing your body in different positions, and ultimately, not allow one side of the body to dominate the other.
If you find yourself always placing one foot first, switch it up. Change is good and switching it up will help keep your body, mind and the pose balanced.
5. Use a Wall
To check your alignment, sit with your back against a wall. Come into the pose and make sure you can keep your back straight and against the wall. Keep your back to the wall as long as you need, and slowly move away as you build strength and confidence in the posture.
Lotus posture is meant to increase inner peace and concentration. Where is your lotus pose today, and how will you help it grow?
Image credit: Drinie Aguilar