Instructor: Sarah N.
Sarah has completed an intensive yoga teacher training program in Pune, India at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute. She has been inspired to continue practicing and teaching yoga for life.

Lotus Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions


For perfect posture while meditating, sit in Padmasana. Also known as Lotus Pose, it lines up all the yogic energy centers in your spine to help you relax your mind while remaining fully alert. It requires a lot of practice, but it is well worth it.

Step by Step Pose Information Benefits Variations

Padmasana

(Pronounced as "pod-MAHS-anna")

The Sanskrit word Padma means "lotus." Here your crossed legs resemble the outspread flower petals of a lotus, the symbol of spiritual awakening in the yogic tradition.

How to do Lotus Pose

Step One

Sit down on your yoga mat, stretching your legs out straight before you. Now bend your right knee. Grab your right foot with both hands and pull it toward you, resting the right foot on top of the root of your left thigh. Many people leave their right heel close to the navel. However, it is better for your knee joint in the long run if you pull your right heel further to the side. Try to place the right heel so that it almost touches the front of your left hip bone and extend your right leg through the heel. This way, your right foot forms a 90-degree angle with your right shin.

Step Two

Bend your left knee and grab the left foot with both of your hands. Pull the left foot toward you, crossing the left leg over the right leg. Bring your left heel to rest in front of your right hip bone on top of your right thigh. If you cannot pull your left heel up so far, then simply let the left heel rest on top of your right knee for some time. Eventually, you can practice pulling your left heel closer and closer to you until the heel reaches the right hip.

Step Three

Relax your thighs down to the floor. Sit with your body weight evenly distributed over both sitting bones. Do not lean more to one side than another. Lengthen your spine up from your tailbone through your neck. Let your shoulders roll back and down. Let your hands rest on your knees with your palms turned upward toward the ceiling. You can also let your thumbs and first fingers touch each other in jnana mudra, the hand position that promotes knowledge, or Jnana in Sanskrit.

Step Four

Ideally, you should sit in Padmasana every day to keep your hips open and back as straight as possible for any meditation practices or pranayama that you do. In the beginning though, it is best to only stay in the pose for a short amount of time and very gradually increase the duration of it over a long period of time. Always remember to practice it by crossing the legs on the other side as well too.

Beginner's Tip:

You may find it easier to perform this pose while sitting on spread yoga blankets with a little extra height under your sitting bones. The extra height helps your knees to descend naturally with gravity, helping you maintain a straighter back also.

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name:

Padmasana

Pose Level:

Level 2

Contraindications and Cautions:

  1. Recent ankle or knee injuries
  2. The first time you perform Padmasana, it is best to try it under the supervision of an experienced yoga teacher to prevent injuries. Especially exercise caution if you have sprained your knees in the past. Do not force yourself into this pose if it hurts you.

Modifications and Props:

Before you do Padmasana, it is easier to practice Ardha Padmasana, which is Half-Lotus Pose. Simply lift your right ankle up and cross the right leg over the left so that the right ankle rests on top of the left hip. The left leg stays on the mat with your left foot tucked under your right thigh. Try to move your left foot so that it rests under your right knee to get a deeper stretch in the hips. If you are more stiff, add a yoga blanket under your hips to make it easier. Spend the same amount of time crossing your legs the other way as well.

Deepen the Pose:

In order to fully sit up straight with an expanded chest in Padmasana, try it while putting your hands into Paschima Namaskar. After you have crossed your legs into the Lotus Pose or Half-Lotus Pose, bring your hands behind your back, press your palms together and turn your hands up so that your fingers point up toward your head. Push your hands up your back until they press in between your shoulder blades. Pull your elbows back, and now you have a fully expanded chest.

Lotus Pose Benefits

  1. Promotes proper back alignment while sitting, keeping the mind alert
  2. Enhances circulation in the abdominal organs and lower back
  3. Stretches out tension in the ankles and knees
  4. Relieves menstrual discomfort

Variations

Once you are comfortable in Padmasana, then take it further by getting into Matsyasana, also known as Fish Pose. After you have crossed your legs in Padmasana, then lean back on your elbows and lower yourself down until you are lying flat on the floor. From here, you can extend both arms straight over your head, resting your arms on the floor with fingers pointing away from you.

This stretch lengthens your spine. Then you can hold your feet in your hands and arch your chest up to the ceiling so that you can let the crown of your head press into the mat. Stay here for 30 seconds to a minute. Then to come out, keep your head back and let your chest lead the movement to sit up as you push yourself up with your hands. Repeat with your legs crossed the other way and hold it for the same length of time.

Next Pose:

Shoulder Pressing Pose

9 styles | 152 poses

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