Padmasana Lotus Pose

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At last, the venerable lotus pose! You've heard about it, maybe you've seen it, perhaps you've even tried it. Padmasana (pronounced pahd-MAH-sah-nah) represents a lotus flower open to the light (padma means "lotus"). It keeps the spine from sagging and keeps you comfortable in meditation for longer periods of time than other positions. It also keeps your body from toppling over if you fall asleep during meditation (many wise souls have!). The lotus position keeps your chest open, gives your diaphragm lots of room, and opens your Venus chakra (located behind your heart).

The lotus flower is considered sacred because it is beautiful, symmetrical, and has a long root that reaches down into the depths of a pond. The lotus flower has its roots in the muddy earth, but it works its way through the mud and eventually blooms into a perfect white flower facing the heavens!

It's easy to be so concerned with trying to achieve the lotus pose that you forget the point of being in the pose: to be comfortable in your body. Because yoga is such an internal process, even if you're sitting in a perfect lotus pose in what appears to be quiet meditation, inside you may not be practicing yoga at all. You may be distracted, worried, or suffering. You might be stuck in the mud! True meditation is joyful.

If your ankles or any other part of you (including your feelings) is in agony or pain, meditation will be much more difficult to achieve. Find an easier pose, or postpone meditation in favor of more active postures. (Exercise is great when you're feeling low.) Come back to meditation when your mind is ready—and only then—in a position your body loves.

The lotus pose.

2. Place your left ankle on top of your right thigh so the sole of your foot faces upward. Then move your right ankle to the top of your left thigh so the sole of your other foot faces upward (or the other way around—and next time, try to switch which foot is on top).

1. Sit on the floor and begin to breathe deeply.

3. Shift a little to center your weight on your hip bones, then place your hands, palms up or down, on your knees. This pose should feel very stable.

Ouch!

If your ankles, hips, or knees begin to hurt, practice nonvio-

4. Ideally, your body will form a tripod, with both knees and your body touching the ground. If you can't get your knees down toward the ground, you can sit on a cushion or pillow. This can also make the pose easier for people with less-flexible hips.

lence by returning to the easy pose. The lotus pose requires strong ankles and open hips.

Practice yoga's standing postures to build ankle and hip strength.

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