Practice the Full Lotus Posture Correctly
The Full Lotus Posture (Padmasana) is a wonderful Power Yoga exercise for opening up the hips and creating flexibility in the ankles and knees. Practiced in moderation, the Lotus can invigorate the nerves of your legs and thighs. The strength and flexibility that you gain by practicing the Lotus Posture can even help you to avoid injuries when you're partaking in other activities, such as hiking and skiing.
About the Lotus Posture
The Lotus Posture is named for the lotus flower — a type of water lily that has multiple petals and floats on ponds and slow streams. When you see a real lotus flower, up close and personal, you understand how this posture inherited its name. The lotus flower possesses a calm, quiet beauty that yoga practitioners can contemplate — and mirror — in this seated posture.
Because the lotus has its roots in the muck of the lake or pond bottom and its blooms face toward heaven, because it moves with the water yet doesn't lose its rooting, it is the perfect symbol of the Yoga practice that is both grounded and spiritually oriented.
Part of the power and effectiveness of the Lotus Position comes from the triangle shape your body assumes. Many Eastern cultures believe that a triangular shape, such as those of the pyramids of Egypt, harnesses life energy. Triangles also symbolize knowledge, will, and action, three key aspects of your Power Yoga practice. By turning your body into a mini-pyramid, you can tap into this mystical energy and stay very grounded at the same time.
Don't jump into the Lotus Posture
The Full Lotus is a very advanced pose, so be extremely aware of your knees and take your time as you move into the Lotus Posture. This posture is too much of a stretch for you if you feel pain in your knees or lower back. As your flexibility improves, you can continue to try the Full Lotus Position until it feels comfortable and right for you. Until then, don't push your body into this posture.
Even when you feel comfortable assuming the Full Lotus Posture, let your Lotus bloom slowly — knees are a precious commodity, so give them some respect. Your ligaments and joints accept gradual changes. If you use this posture too much, or too soon, you could badly injure your knees and slow the progress of your entire Power Yoga practice.
Practicing the Full Lotus (Padmasana)
The word padma means "lotus." In this posture, you float like a water lily as you create the beauty of a lotus flower with your body and in your mind. The Lotus Posture is a classic pose for meditation and pranayama, controlled Yoga breathing. Another name for this posture is the Buddha Pose; many yogis and yoginis, past and present, envision the Buddha meditating in this pose.
Use these steps to practice the Full Lotus Posture:
Sit on the floor in the Easy Posture.
Your back is straight, your mind is calm, and you are completely focused and relaxed.
Take your right foot in your hands, and slowly place it on your left thigh as close to the crease of your hip as you can.
Try to align your left heel with your hip joint while keeping your left ankle straight.
Take your left foot in your hands, and slowly place it on your right thigh as close to the crease of your hip as you can.
Try to align your right heel with your hip joint while keeping your right ankle straight.
Be aware of correct posture as you open your chest, lengthen your spine, and gently pull your shoulders back; feel yourself relax as you sit proud, with your chin held high.
Remember to press in at your lower back to maintain its natural inward curve.
Extend your arms over your thighs, and rest your hands and wrists on your knees, with palms facing upward.
6. Place your hands in the Jnana Mudra Position.
You now are in the Full Lotus Position, as illustrated in the figure.
Close your eyes and hold this pose for 5 to 10 slow deep breaths.
Calm your mind and relax, as you feel yourself gently floating.
As you breathe, try to engage the Mula bandha and Uddiyana bandha muscle locks. You may even try Jalandara bandha, in this pose.
Bandhas, or muscle locks, are made up of muscle groups in your body. To engage a bandha, you physically contract the muscles in one of three areas of your body. The Mula bandha is located in the perineal muscles between your genitals and anus. The Uddiyana bandha is located about three-fingers width below your navel. The Jalandhara bandha is called a chin lock. You engage this bandha by stretching the back of the neck as you lower your chin into the notch in your breastbone.
Open your eyes; take your left ankle in your hands and slowly lower your left foot to the floor, and then take your right ankle in your hands and lower your right foot to the floor.
Relax for a few breaths in the Easy Posture.
The next time you practice this posture, place your left foot on your right thigh first. Alternating the order of your foot placement each time you assume the Lotus Position, gives your muscles a balanced stretch over the course of your Power Yoga practice.