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How to Do Lotus Pose (Padmasana) and Half Lotus

Lotus is an iconic posture that is often used to represent a yogi who is fully grounded, present, and working toward inner peace. But Lotus is not inherently better for meditation than any other yoga pose. Being able to do Lotus means that you have hips that allow you to do Lotus, which more often than not come from the genetic lottery. Getting your feet hooked over the opposite thighs is not a fast track to yoga nirvana and there are plenty of other ways to sit more comfortably.

Anatomically Correct

Coming into a full Lotus posture requires that the heads of the femurs have a wide range of motion for external rotation in the hip sockets, which we often call having open hips. If the femurs’ range of motion is more limited, the external rotation gets passed down the legs to the knees, which is not a stable position for them and can result in injury. We’re going to take the alignment of Lotus step by step so that the entry is as safe as possible. Along the way, we’ll pass through Half Lotus, which is a great place for many people to stop.

Benefits of Lotus

  • Opens the Hips
  • Stretches the ankles and feet

Instructions

  1. Begin by sitting on your mat with both your legs outstretched and your knees slightly soft.
  1. Bend your right leg and bring your right heel as close to your right buttock as possible with the sole of the right foot flat on your mat. This protects your knee by ensuring that it is fully flexed (bent) and that all your external rotation is coming from your hip.
  1. Externally rotate your right femur in the hip socket so that your right knee opens to the right.

  1. Use your hands to bring your right foot to the left thigh with the sole of your foot facing upwards. To deepen, pull your right foot closer to your left hip crease and allow your right knee to lower toward the floor.
  1. If you bend your left knee and tuck your left foot under your right knee, you will be in Half Lotus. If you’re going be sitting for a while, you may want to take some padding under your butt so that your hips are above your knees.
  1. If you have further to go, you’re going to repeat the same process with your left leg by bending your knee and drawing your left heel in close to your left buttock and then using your hands to position your left foot on the top of your right thigh with the left sole facing upwards.
  1. When you have both feet in position, activate the feet and release both your knees toward the floor as much as possible.
  1. You can bring your hands to Anjali mudra at your heart, Gyan mudra on each knee, or another position of your choice.

  1. If you feel any kind of twinge or pain in either knee, come out of the pose.
  1. Traditionally, Lotus is taught with the right leg on the bottom and left leg on top. Modern practitioners often choose to spend equal time with the leg positions reversed for balance.

If Lotus doesn’t work for your body, don’t worry. There are lots of other options when it comes to seated poses for meditation, including Half Lotus, Easy Pose, and Hero Pose.

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