Padmasana or the Lotus Pose is an important meditative asana. The yogic texts mentions the importance of this pose. In Sanskrit, Padma means lotus and Asana means pose. Hatha Yoga Pradeepika talks of Padmasana, as one of the main asanas for meditation that can destroy all diseases. If you see the drawings and sculptors of ancient yogis, you will notice that they are seated in Padmasana. Ancient statues of Shiva, Buddha and Mahavira are all depicted as sitting in Padmasana. The hand mudras may vary, but the legs are always shown seated in the lotus pose.
Padmasana is one of the best poses for meditation. In Padmasana, the legs are locked together and the lower body is absolutely stable. Also, the back and spine will be straight. This is perfect for longer periods of meditation as the body can be held motionless, with least distractions.
Padmasana is not easy for beginners. In the eastern traditions, people are used to sitting on the floor in the simple cross legged position, especially for meals. But in the western tradition, most people use the chair for sitting and for meals. In such cases, a little practice will be required to bring flexibility into the legs. One can do any exercise that stretches the lower legs, thigh and waist muscles to get this flexibility. Also the joints (ankles, knee and waist) should be made supple by doing Pawanmuktasana series of exercises. Those suffering from sciatica and sacral pain, weak knee joints, etc. should avoid this asana.
How to do Padmasana (Lotus Pose)?
- Sit on the floor comfortably. Assume the simple cross legged pose where the legs are folded.
- Lift the left leg and place it on the right thigh.
- Now lift the right leg and place it over the left leg. The knees must touch the floor. If it doesn’t, don’t worry. With practice it will, when the legs become flexible.
- Pull and adjust the legs so that soul of the feet face upwards and the heels are tucked in at the waist level near the pelvic bone.
- Now, make the spine straight, broaden your chest (to avoid stooping) and place the hands in the gap between the feet. Place the left palm over the right palm. Relax the muscles in the abdomen and chest. Relax the shoulders completely.
- You may close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply. Let the awareness be on the breathing process. Experience the perfect balance and alignment of the entire body.
- Maintain this position for as long as comfortable. Those who wish to use this pose for meditation should sit for at least 20 minutes. Slowly increase it so that your duration of meditation too can increase. At some point the legs may start to pain. At this point, slowly release the legs. Massage the legs gently. Over a period of time, you will be able to sit for long duration in this asana. Those who are young will master this asana quickly. After an age of 30 – 35 years, the body is less supple. Of course, with practice anyone, even those above 60 years, can master this asana. One attains Asana Siddhi if one sits in a posture for three and half hours. One need not go to such extremes; even 30 minutes to an hour is good enough for most practitioners.
- One of the main points to be noted in meditative asanas, is that the body should be absolutely still and relaxed. There should be no pains or stress, otherwise instead of meditating, attention will be drawn to the body and its discomforts. One may use a soft support (soft pillow, cushion, etc.) under the buttocks to achieve the comfort.
- Padmasana can also be done with the left leg over the right leg. In this case, first the right leg is placed on the left thigh. Then the left leg is place over the right leg. But traditionally, it is practiced the other way (with right leg over left leg). If you notice statues of Lord Buddha which are excavated from ancient temples, which are over 2000 years old, you will see that the right leg is placed over the left leg.
- The yogic text Hatha Yoga Pradeepika says that one should gaze at the tip of the nose and keep the tongue touching the roof of the palate during meditation in Padmasana. This is supposed to help the prana (apana vayu) raise up the spine.
Position of hands in Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
Padmasana can also be done with hands resting on the knees. In this case, the elbows are slightly bent and the hands rest on the knees, with palms facing upwards. Chin mudra or Jnana mudra can also be performed with the fingers.
Benefits of Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
- Padmasana is considered one of the best asanas for meditation. It holds the body steady and straight for long durations.
- Steadiness of the body calms the mind. Awareness of the breathing process also helps to steady the mind. There is an intricate connection between the body and mind. A steady body can help to bring steadiness in the mind.
- During practice, keep the spine straight. This helps to channel the energy from the lower spiritual centers or chakras upwards towards Sahasrara chakra. The erect spine aids the free flow of prana along the spinal cord.
- Padmasana tones the coccygeal and sacral nerves. This pose restricts the blood flow to the legs and redirects it to the abdominal region. It improves digestion as well.
- Sitting in Padmasana can relieve many metal and emotional problems.
- Hatha Yoga Pradeepika says that a yogi frees himself from all bondages, if he controls his breath, sitting in Padmasana.
- It is an excellent pose for practicing advanced pranayam techniques.
Contraindications of Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
- Those who have any problem with the knee joint should not do Padmasana.
- Avoid this pose if you have any hip injury.