Lotus Pose



Lotus pose is an advanced hip opener and basic meditation posture with several benefits:

  • Opens the hips and creates a sense of balance
  • Assists elimination
  • Builds strength and flexibility in the ankle joints
  • Amplifies the flow of Prana
  • Pose

  • Cautions

  • Modifications

  • Those with pain or tightness in the knee, ankle or hip joints should not perform this pose or should use modifications
  • Lotus is considered an advanced posture and should be worked up to slowly. Easy Pose is a good alternative.
  • Use a foam block under the seat for extra height in the hips.
  • Stop after step two for Half Lotus.
  • Use Easy Pose if Lotus pose is unavailable to you.
  • Images
  • Step-by-step

Padmasana = pod-MAHS-anna
Padma: Lotus

  1. Open and prepare the hips for Lotus in stages. Perform other hip openers before Lotus, such as Double Pigeon Pose, Pigeon Pose or Butterfly Pose. Begin in a seated cross-legged posture with the right leg crossed in front of the left. Your hips should be higher than your knees. Use a foam block to elevate the hips slightly if needed.
  2. Using your hands for assistance, draw the right foot up onto the left thigh, with the heel touching the hip joint. Turn the sole of the foot up and lengthen through the ankle.
  3. If comfortable in Half Lotus, come into full Lotus by bringing the left foot up onto the right thigh with the heel touching the hip joint and the sole of the foot turned up.
  4. Press both ankles firmly down into the thighs and energetically extend from the base of the perineum up the length of the spine.
  5. Place your hands on your knees, or find Jnana Mudra with the tops of the thumbs touching the index fingers and the other three fingers extended.
  6. Stay here for an extended period of time, using the pose for meditation. If you experience any sharp or numbing sensations in the legs, hips, ankles or knees at any stage of the pose, exit immediately. Remember to practice both sides in Lotus, alternating between the lead leg each time you come in to the pose.
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RebeccaO, posted on March 4, 2013

@bernieclark Thank you so much for the feed back! I certainly do need to remember to make my practice more about my body and not just my desires. Wants and goals are important, but not when they are so out of balance that I may make bad decisions about what postures to attempt. Lotus is one of those poses that is running the line of being more about what I want and not necessarily about what’s right for me. I am happy that I had the sense to stop when I realized I was twisting my knees incorrectly. But I’m still on the hunt to see if it is something that I may be able to attain in the future.

RebeccaO, posted on March 4, 2013

@tigerlilly123 Thank you for your response! I have exactly the same problem. I have limited strength and lots of bend. I have to always be on the alert for hyper extending joints because I don't have the strength to keep my joints bent properly. It can be quite a challenge sometimes knowing which bends are healthy and which may be going a bit too far.

bernieclark, posted on March 1, 2013

@RebeccaO Lotus can be a very simple and easy pose, for “some” people: B.K.S. Iyengar rated it only #4 on the difficulty scale (with 1 being really easy and 60 being really hard), which implies most people can do this pose safely. However, that only apples to people who have the anatomical bone structure in their pelvis and femurs that allow sufficient external rotation to work safely towards this pose: others who are not so equipped can (and have) seriously injured their knees by trying to force themselves into Lotus or by staying too long in it. Ignorance of your unique skeletal variation is the biggest danger you face in performing Hatha Yoga postures. Your Body = Your Yoga (memorize that mantra!)

If the hips sockets and femur do not allow sufficient external rotation then the stress of coming into this pose will go into the next joint down the line – the knees (and if the knees are okay, then into the ankles.) The problem in the knees is not so much the lateral or medial ligaments (when the knee is bent these ligaments are naturally lax and unstressed) but the medial (inner) meniscus, which tends to get pinched between the femur and tibia, often resulting in a tear that never heals. It is not laxness in the knees that is the #1 concern, but the tearing of the meniscus.

There is nothing magic about Lotus: just because you can do it, it doesn’t mean you are a nice person. Just because you can’t do it doesn’t mean you can’t get into heaven. Many people will never do it safely and shouldn’t. But, it is always a good idea to work towards your unique edge in externally rotating your legs. Sitting on the floor everyday is a great start. Over time (and it may take years) you may find that you have opened enough to come into Lotus and stay there pain free. If not, no big deal! Choose another seated posture.

Cheers! Bernie

tigerlilly123, posted on March 1, 2013

This is such a great question. I do not have the answer, but I have been practicing yoga for years, I am a teacher and a student, but mostly a student ( I am always learning) I tend to be flexible in my poses and in my nature and I am quite aware of my need for the opposite to bring balance, I have recently began practicing pilates, because of the emphasis of strong core, I can easily go beyond my boundaries with yoga, so doing pilates, I am working with my opposite weaker quality (strength and stability). It fells really good to my body and it is what I have personally needed to retrain new habits and pathways in my body. I have patterns and habits established with yoga that needed to be re-educated and pilates is just the choice I am making to balance my "stretchy, injury prone body". It is working for me.

RebeccaO, posted on March 1, 2013

Has anyone heard of long time yogis having problems with ligament laxity from some of these more extreme poses like lotus? A big debate was started between my husband and I about whether or not I should work towards learning lotus because I have bad knees and am naturally super bendy. He thinks this will put unnecessary stretch into my ligaments over time that may cause pain like he sees in ballerinas. (He’s a chiropractor and I trust his opinion greatly, but he openly admits that he does not know any old yogis so he can’t compare between them and dancers that have the issues he describes. But yogis do much of the same things and may experience similar issues.)

I do know that doing this pose means I must have LOTS of hip mobility and there should be no strain on my knees because when done correctly they should be straight and not twisted. (Here is a great illustration of proper form: http://www.yogajournal.com/for_teachers/978#) When I found out my current lotus had bad form and caused twisting in my knees I stopped immediately and I’m working on my hips. But the debate is that even doing it correctly may make my ligaments too stretchy for my own good.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this or know any long time yogis that have experienced problems from being too stretchy?

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