One of the oldest of the ancient yoga poses, Lotus Pose (Padmasana) is a cross-legged sitting meditation pose. To understand the significance of the Lotus Pose for mind-body-spirit, it helps to learn about the namesake for this pose: the beautiful Lotus flower plant.
Rooted in mud, the majestic Lotus flower begins as a seed then a bulb (or pod) that sprouts shallow roots as the flower grows into bloom. A living fossil in existence for over 140 million years, the Lotus flower can withstand the extremes of hot and cold temperatures (it survived the Ice Age!), so long as it’s roots remain in mud. Lotus flowers are known to be resistant to pollution and able to purify the water in which they grow, completely embracing even the most unfavorable environmental conditions. Each night the Lotus submerges into murky water. Each morning it reblooms (like a rebirth) without residue from previous environmental exposure.
Sitting in Lotus Pose, we are reminded that the “mud and murky water” of life is necessary to our human experience. From the mud, we can grow and blossom with our petals open to experience, open to receive and to give, as we grow towards Enlightenment.
Practicing Stillness and Presence in Lotus Pose
Before you move into Lotus Pose, it is a good idea to warm-up the muscles and joints. A few minutes of walking, easy knee bends, holding a plank pose, or a few standing balance poses can help still the mind and warm the body. This is important because your knees will be bent and the hips flexed while in Lotus Pose; you don’t want to enter the pose with stiff legs and hips.
Scroll through this page to see how to modify Lotus Pose for your needs.
In Lotus Pose, each leg folds at the knee and criss-crosses one foot to the opposite thigh. The hands may rest on either knee, palms down or palms up and open. Alternatively, the hands may rest at the heart center or cupped together (palms up and open) in the space between the thighs. The spine is held long and tall from the tailbone to the top of the skull. Shoulders are relaxed. The belly is held in gently. A cushion can be placed beneath your sitz bones for support.
When you begin practicing Lotus Pose for meditation/relaxation, you may feel uncertain and your thoughts may race. In essence, you are in the murky, muddy water and trying to find your way. As you practice, things become more natural, your mind starts to quiet, and your experience begins to shift.
Lotus Pose is considered both a grounding and expansive pose. Your legs are the roots, grounded (or perhaps tangled) beneath you and weighed down in the mud (as your thoughts may be). As you focus on the movement of your breath, your body lifts and lightens. With practice, you blossom not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually.
Through this interplay of grounding and expansion, Lotus Pose can help improve circulation in the lumbar spine, stretch the ankles and legs, and increase flexibility in the hips. In Lotus Pose, you disengage the body from the stress response and nourish the systems that support relaxation (lowering blood pressure and encouraging deeper, more nourishing respiration). Lotus Pose fosters self-awareness and non-judgemental self-acceptance.
As with any new exercise, if you experience pain or discomfort, please bring that to the attention of your healthcare provider.
- FlowerGlossary.com. “Lotus Flower: Meaning and Care.” https://www.flowerglossary.com/lotus-flowers-meaning/
- Yoga Journal.com. “Lotus Pose: How to Practice Padmasana.” https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/types/seated/lotus-pose/