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Practice These 4 Yoga Poses to Prepare You For Full Lotus Pose (Photo Tutorial)

Nichol Chase
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Lotus pose is traditionally used as a seated pose for meditation or pranayama. B.K.S. Iyengar says it’s “one of the most important and useful asanas. It is the posture for meditation and the Buddha is often depicted in it.” In this article, you’ll learn how to practice this posture!
 

“No mud, no lotus.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

 

The History and Symbolism of Lotus Pose

The history of this pose runs deep . . . it has literally been practiced for thousands of years. When you learn to practice this pose you learn to tap into this history. Let’s take brief look:
 
The remarkably beautiful lotus flower grows in muddy water, and rises above the surface to bloom. It’s easy to overlook the value of the root system that emerges up out of the mud, and instead focus on the bloom of the lotus flower above water. But without the mud as its sustenance, there would never be a bloom.
 
This is such a great metaphor for life and for the pose itself – Lotus Pose (Padmasana). As you learn to practice this pose it can feel like you are trudging through muddy water, but if you approach it with skill, precision, and patience, you will experience the beauty that blossoms as a result.
 
Want to learn more about the lotus and other yoga symbols? Read What the Om? The Meaning Behind 5 Common Yoga Symbols
 

The Benefits of Lotus Pose

Aside from being a great way to sit for meditation and pranayama exercises, Lotus Pose can help alleviate stiffness in your ankles and knees. The way you fold your legs in Lotus Pose lengthens your spine and helps your body to be “at rest without being sloppy. The position of the crossed legs and the erect back keeps the mind attentive and alert.” (B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga)
 

Safety Tips Before Practicing Lotus Pose

I began to make progress on this pose when I decided to work on it consistently. I developed a few short sequences of poses that I practiced daily until I could do the pose safely. Before we dive in, though, here are some tips to keep you safe:

  • Make sure your body is warmed up and fully prepped for Lotus Pose
  • Understand the proper function of the hip joint and the knee joint in Lotus Pose. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, and therefore allows a lot of rotation and movement in many directions. The knee joint works mostly like a hinge – it allows a little rotation, but not much. So, the rotation MUST happen from the hip joint
  • Listen to your body. If you feel any pain or torque in your knees as you move through this sequence, that’s your body giving you a warning signal to back out, and is not the type of pain you should ignore
  • Be patient. It may take a while to “master” this pose, but with patience and consistency you will get there!

 

Practice These 4 Poses Before Lotus Pose

Here’s one of the sequences I used to work up toward Lotus Pose. I still use it to warm up! Start with 7-10 rounds of Sun Salutations to warm up your body. Got that? Good. Let’s get started.
 

1. Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose)

This pose requires full flexion of your knee joint and stretches through your hips to open them for Lotus Pose.
 
pose-photo-3
 
How to Practice Janu Sirsasana

  • Find a seat and bring your legs into a wide “V”
  • Bend your right leg and hug your heel to the inside of your left thigh, kind of like tree pose on the floor
  • Hinge at your hips to fold over your extended leg, and bring your face towards your shin
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
 

2. Agnistambhasana (Fire Log Pose)

Practice this pose to increase external rotation in your hips over time. That rotation is needed for comfort and safety in Lotus Pose.
 
firelog-pose
 
firelog-pose-fold
 
How to Practice Agnistambhasana

  • Find a comfortable seat
  • Flex your feet and stack one shin on top of the other, to look like stacked fire logs
  • Bring the soles of your feet in line with your outer thighs.
  • Sit on a yoga block (amazon) for less intensity
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
 

3. Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Seated Forward Bend)

This pose further stretches the hips, and begins to introduce Lotus Pose to your body.
 
pose-photo-8
 
How to Practice Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana

  • Find a seat and extend both legs forward
  • Bend your right leg, and bring the top of your foot to the top of your left thigh, with your heel close to your pubic bone
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths

 
pose-photo-9
 
Stay here in a tall seat or add a bind:

  • Reach your right hand behind your back and grab your right toes
  • Hinge at your hips to slowly lean forward and fold over your left leg
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 

 

4. Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose)

In Half Lotus Pose you’ll continue to stretch your hips and prepare your body for full Lotus Pose. As the name suggests, you’re halfway there!
 
pose-photo-10
 
How to Practice Ardha Padmasana

  • Find a comfortable, cross-legged seat
  • Bring your right heel to your left pubic bone
  • Keep your knee joint flexed (bent)
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
 

5. Padmasana (Lotus Pose)

Now that you’re warm and your body is prepped, it’s time to try full Lotus Pose. Remember: if you feel pain at any point, stop. This pose will come to you in time.
 
pose-photo-13
 
How to Practice Padmasana

  • Come into Half Lotus Pose with your right foot
  • Line up your ankles (your right ankle in Half Lotus Pose will line up with your left ankle on the ground – see photo below)

 
pose-photo-11
 

  • Bring both hands to your left foot
  • Lift your left foot off the floor, and bring it over your right leg to touch your right pubic bone
  • You made it! You’re in Lotus Pose

 

Lotus Pose Takes Time – Remember Not to Rush It!

Lotus Pose is aptly named. This flower is a powerful metaphor for the process of attaining higher levels of consciousness in many spiritual traditions. And, just like the process of attaining enlightenment, the road toward lotus pose requires a great deal of persistence and patience.
 
Lotus Pose increases flexibility and builds character, but you have to stick with it to reap the benefits. Keep with it, and little by little, you will make progress!
 
Namaste.
 

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Nichol Chase

Nichol is a yoga teacher and musician. Her teaching incorporates a blend of invigorating flow and insightful instruction, and she will sweetly serenade you with her harmonium and voice in savasana. She has trained with three of the most accomplished yoga teachers in the field today: Noah Mazé, Darren Rhodes and Christina Sell. Nichol teaches public classes in San Francisco and yoga workshops, intensives and retreats around the world.

nicholchaseyoga.com

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