Padmasana, or Lotus Pose, is one of the most recognizable seated postures in the practice of yoga. From its aesthetic beauty, to its spiritual symbolism,
Padmasana is a pose that is known and appreciated throughout the world. It is a representation of reverence to the divine, discipline, and determination.
This guide will explore the complexity of Padmasana, its historic and cultural significance, and how to experience the beauty within the postures’ practice.
History and General Overview of Padmasana
Padmasana is one of the most popular postures in hatha yoga. It is a seated position with the legs crossed at the ankles placed in a symmetrical fashion and drawn up towards the body. The arms and center line of the body should be kept straight, and the head slightly tilted upward in a gesture of reverence.
There is evidence in the Hathapradipika and other yogic texts that date Padmasana back to approximately the fourth century CE. The pose is often referred to in ancient scriptures of yoga philosophy, as a symbolic representation of the spiritual and physical evolution attainable through the practice of yoga.
When an individual is able to maintain a dignified seated posture for their meditation and breathing practices, it is offering further acknowledgment for the mental, physical, and spiritual components of each asana or posture.
The Developmental Benefits of Padmasana
Padmasana is a posture that can be practiced by almost anyone and can be quite beneficial, even if it can be difficult to maintain for long periods of time in the beginning.
In fact, the psychophysical effects of the posture are the actual benefits of the pose, as Padmasana is not necessarily a posture to be contorted into and then maintained with discomfort. Rather, it is a pose that should be found with effortless grace. Through regular practice, the legs unknot, the torso and chest straighten, and the natural spinal curves can be found and maintained.
The key is to sit in a manner that is free of tension, which allows a much deeper experience of relaxation and concentration.
The Effects of Padmasana on the Chakras
Padmasana, as a deeply seated posture, is known to have a direct effect on the energetic centers, or chakras, within the body. As the pose is entered into, the various body parts that activate or relax increase in intensity as the energy of the chakras increases.
The legs for example, when crossed, begin to engage the chakras in the base of the spine and the energy of these centers begins to course up the spine, activating even higher chakras.
In this position, with hip bones tilted forward, the hara can be found, the point of physical and energetic balance within the body. As the chakra’s energy spreads from the base of the spine upwards, the inhalation and exhalation of breath adds an even more profound element to the practice, creating a sense of equilibrium and connection to the physical and mental realms of existence.
The Health Benefits of Padmasana
The practice of Padmasana can also bring a plethora of health benefits. Regular practice can help reduce spinal pain and improve hip flexibility, while simultaneously strengthening the calf and thigh muscles. It can also help to improve digestion and reduce inflammation due to its ability to increase circulation to the lower abdominal cavity.
Additionally, as a posture used to center the mind and prepare for meditation, Padmasana may help to reduce intellectual and emotional stress. Through sustained practice, a sense of balance and stability is found, which may lead to improved mental focus, physical and emotional wellbeing, and the balancing of the central energetic channel, or shushumna nadi.
Instructions for Entering and Maintaining Padmasana
When beginning Padmasana, it is best to find a comfortable seat on the floor, this can be done in a number of traditional or modified postures. It is important to have an understanding of the postures’ effects and the patience to allow for the physical experience of Padmasana to take place.
Instructions for entering the pose:
1. Begin seated in a comfortable seated position on the floor, with the legs extended out in front.
2. Place the left leg in the half lotus position, turning it outward and allowing the outer thigh to make contact with the floor.
3. Place the right leg in the half lotus position, curling the ankle and foot inward, nestling it on the thigh muscle of the left leg. Adjust the legs to ease any discomfort.
4. Gently bring the hands together in anjali mudra, prayer position, close to the heart or place the hands in a mudras that cultivates your preferred state of consciousness and concentration.
5. Take a few deep breaths, focusing on a single point on the floor in front of you.
Instructions for exiting the pose:
1. Begin to gently deepen your breath and turn the gaze gently inward.
2. Uncross the legs and elongate the spine.
3. Place both hands onto the floor, bring the legs towards the trunk, and raise the palms straight upwards.
4. Let the palms rest comfortably in the lap.
5. Connect to the posture and the breath, noting how you feel.
The Process of Experiencing Padmasana
Padmasana is a posture built on the process of mindful introspection, so it is important to allow for the physical and emotional sensations to fully arise.
It is recommended to channel the breath with conscious intention, noting the connection of the body, this newly found balance, the energy of the chakras, and the connection between the mind and the physical body.
As the body settles into Padmasana, the breath can flow uninterrupted, allowing for further introspection.
Tips for Improving Padmasana
Although practicing Padmasana requires a certain level of flexibility, strength, and balance, acquiring it is totally achievable with a few tips. In order to improve Padmasana and gain greater comfort in the pose, it is helpful to try elevating the hips by sitting on a folded blanket.
Additionally, until the practitioner is able to hold the pose comfortably, the novice should use their hands to ease in, out and maintain balance in the pose.
One can also practice Arda Padmasana (Half Lotus) until the hips are open enough to preform Padmasana.
Padmasana is a seat of meditative concentration, from which one can observe himself, his breathing, and the relationship between the inner and outer experiences. It is a posture of great power and insight, for with it comes moments of ultimate balance and understanding, and of honoring its ritualistic beauty. Through its practice and perseverance, Padmasana can elevate its practitioner to greater spiritual heights.