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What is lotus position?
Lotus position, or lotus pose, is a yoga pose also known as Padmasana.
It was once described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (a 15th century Sanskrit book on Hatha yoga) as the “destroyer of all disease...only the very wise can master it”.
This is not necessarily true, as your ability to hold the lotus pose has a strong link to your bone alignment.
It is an intermediate to advanced yoga pose and beginners may struggle to get into it. The pose is perfect for concentration and is a good meditation pose.
The lotus is a highly symbolic flower in Hindu and Buddhist traditions. It is associated with enlightenment, rebirth, beauty, purity, and abundance.
In Buddhist art, a lotus flower is always pictured combined with deities, making a sacred plant.
Old Hindu texts reference this pose as removing disease and awakening kundalini energy (energy located at the base of your spine).
Both sides of your body are not symmetrical, and so you are likely to have a hip socket that is more forward than the other. This allows for more external rotation and will help with getting into lotus pose. This is known as your ‘good side’ in regards to this yoga pose.
How to prepare
If you practice yoga regularly you are likely to own a yoga mat. It is advisable to wear comfortable clothing that you can move in, but nothing too loose-fitting as this can hinder some yoga moves.
Clear a space for your practice and make it pleasurable to be in. Turn off electrical distractions and play some calming music. You can also light incense to enhance the experience, and you can use different incense sticks to invoke different feelings.
Breathe deeply and focus on clearing your mind. Yoga is a form of meditation, and it is important to focus on the mind-body-soul connection when engaging in yoga.
How to get into lotus position
Sit on your yoga mat on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you and your palms facing the ground. It is important to perform the stretches mentioned below before attempting lotus pose to minimize the risk of injury.
Bend your right knee and cradle the outer edge of your foot in your left elbow. Your knee should be touching the crook of your right elbow. Weave your fingers together and hold this position for about 30 seconds.
Keeping your lower back straight, lift your chest and rock your leg gently backward and forwards a few times to engage the hip joint. Breathe deeply while doing this, focusing on a slow inhale, hold the breath for a few seconds and then exhale in a controlled manner.
Gently unlink your hands and slowly move your leg back to being outstretched in front of you. Repeat this entire process on your left leg, taking care not to over-exert yourself.
Once you have done this on both sides, you will feel which is your ‘good side’. Bend the knee on that side and bring the ankle towards the crease at the top of the opposite leg, near your hip. Allow your foot to fall naturally into the hip crease until it is comfortable.
Repeat with the other leg and hold for a minute or two, breathing deeply and leaning into the stretch. It is a good idea to repeat this pose with your legs the opposite way to ensure you do not over-stretch one hip.
For novice yogis, it is a good idea to practice just holding one leg at a time, creating a pose called the half lotus. From here, you can build up to the full lotus pose. More advanced yogis will be able to hold the pose for longer, and this is something that you can work towards improving over time.
What are the benefits?
Holding the lotus pose regularly will open up the hips, stretching the ankles and knees. If you do this consistently, your overall flexibility will increase. Combining the lotus position into a larger yoga routine will make this process even faster.
Regularly moving and stretching your joints will help keep the ligaments flexible and your joints moving freely. It is believed that old traumas and emotions are held in the hip joints, which are released through hip-opening poses such as the lotus.
To perform the lotus pose correctly, you must keep the spine straight and elongated. Modern working at computers has impacted our posture, and we’re sure you’ve seen the scary predictions of what future office workers will look like!
Sitting up straight in lotus pose regularly will improve your overall posture as your muscle memory will be engaged. This will impact your day-to-day posture too and make you appear more graceful and confident.
Yoga is a form of mediation and so there is a central focus of mindfulness associated with the physical movements. The act of sitting on the floor cross-legged literally and spiritually grounds us. Straightening the spine and pointing the crown of the head to the sky connects us with the forces of the universe.
Combined with deep breathing, this is a powerful calming force and will increase mood and mindfulness across your entire life.
Eases menstrual cramps and sciatica
Lotus pose opens the hips and aids with menstrual cramps and bloating. It strengthens the core muscles and lower back while opening the hips.
This combination of movements combined with breathing exercises acts to reduce stress levels. This then affects the hormone levels in the body and can aid in regulation, making periods less severe.
Makes childbirth less painful
This pose is ideal for pregnant women and it is claimed that consistent practice during pregnancy will help with the pain of labor. It may not be possible during the later stages of pregnancy but it is ideal to practice earlier on.
When cradling your leg, push the inner edge of your foot along your upper arm. This avoids overstretching your ankles.
The lotus pose stretches and tones the pelvic floor muscles, simultaneously softening the vaginal opening. This will mean that your muscles are more used to stretching out to accommodate the demands of childbirth.
Engaging the lymphatic system
The lymphatic system is responsible for removing toxins, waste, and unwanted materials from the body. The system moves lymph fluid (containing white blood cells) around the body to fight off infection.
There are lots of lymph nodes located in your hip joints, and lotus pose stimulates them. This forces the lymphatic nodes to release lymph and push toxins out of the body. This is a good pose to attempt when you first start to feel under the weather.
Connects you to your root chakra
There are 7 chakras in the body and they impact our mental, physical and emotional health. The root chakra is located at the base of the spine (the same place as the kundalini energy) and is believed to be connected to basic human urges.
Experts say that when our root chakra is unbalanced it can cause anger, depression, fatigue, and constipation. The lotus pose is a perfect way to keep this chakra in balance and keep you feeling good.
This is because of the grounding sensation mentioned above allowing us a platform from which to build our mental and emotional selves.
This position places pressure on the abdominal region, simulating the effects of a massage. Lotus pose also increases blood flow to your abs which can stimulate the digestive system.
This means that lotus pose is particularly effective if you are suffering from constipation.
The combination of mindfulness and deep breathing can reduce overall stress in your life.
When stress is reduced we have a better sense of mental well-being which in turn allows for a restful night’s sleep.
Improves circulation and breathing
The deep breathing practices performed as part of holding lotus pose open the lungs. These practices also boost the lung capacity to hold oxygen as you are consistently breathing in deeply, holding, and then exhaling. This increased oxygen capacity in the body increases the oxygen levels in the blood and enhances circulation around the body.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is lotus pose so difficult for me?
Quite simply, some people are better suited to the lotus pose than others.
It is all down to how your hips are aligned and how tight your external rotators are. If you struggle to get into the full lotus pose, practice the warm-up stretches and get into half lotus. With regular practice of this pose, in time you should be able to build up to the full lotus position.
It is easy to sustain injuries in this position so if you are feeling any discomfort or pain stop immediately. It is a good idea to get a qualified yoga teacher to put you in the position for the first time, or you should refer to a visual guide to see the correct positioning.