Padmasana or Lotus Position (Sanskrit: पद्मासन [pɐdmaːsɐnɐ], IAST: padmāsana) is a cross-legged sitting asana originating in meditative practices of ancient India, in which each foot is placed on the opposite thigh. It is an ancient asana, predating hatha yoga, and is commonly used for meditation, in the Yoga, Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist contemplative traditions. The asana is said to resemble a lotus, to encourage breathing properly through associated meditative practice, and to foster physical stability.
Variations include half lotus, Ardha Padmasana; bound lotus, Baddha Padmasana; and psychic union pose, Yogamudrasana.
Etymology and originsEdit
The name of the pose is from the Sanskrit पद्मासन Padmāsana , "Lotus [throne] position". This is also a term for actual thrones, often decorated with lotus foliage motifs, on which figures in art sit. The Hindu (Vedic) and Jain Goddess of Prosperity, Sri Lakshmi, sits atop a lotus flower.
The pose is ancient, being one of the first asanas to be named, for example in the 8th century Patanjalayogashastravivarana. A figure seated in lotus position on a lotus flower is shown on dinar coins of Chandragupta II, who reigned c. 380–c. 415 AD. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika states that the pose destroys all diseases, and that a yogin in the pose who retains the air breathed in through the nadi channels attains liberation.
From sitting cross-legged on the floor in Sukhasana, one foot is placed on top of the opposite thigh with its sole facing upward and heel close to the abdomen. The other foot is then placed on the opposite thigh as symmetrically as possible.
The knees are in contact with the ground. The torso is placed in balance and alignment such that the spinal column supports it with minimal muscular effort. The torso is centered above the hips. To relax the head and neck, the jaw is allowed to fall towards the neck and the back of the neck to lengthen. The shoulders move backwards and the ribcage lifts. The tongue rests on the roof of the mouth.
The eyes may be closed, the body relaxed, with awareness of the overall asana. Adjustments are made until balance and alignment are experienced. Alignment that creates relaxation is indicative of a suitable position for the asana. The asana should be natural and comfortable, without any sharp pains.
In most cases, a cushion (zafu) or mat (zabuton) is necessary in order to achieve this balance. One sits on the forward edge of the cushion or mat in order to incline one's pelvis forward, making it possible to center the spine and provide the necessary support. Only the most flexible people can achieve this position without a support under their pelvis (and likewise does the Dalai Lama explicitly advise).
In half lotus, अर्ध पद्मासन (Ardha Padmasana), one leg is bent and resting on the floor, the other leg is bent with the foot in lotus position. It is an easier meditation position than full lotus.
In bound lotus, बद्ध पद्मासन (Baddha Padmasana), the practitioner sits in full lotus, and each hand reaches around the back to grasp the opposite foot.
For psychic union pose, यओगमुद्रासन (Yogamudrasana), the practitioner bends forward in full lotus, bringing the forehead as close to the floor as possible. The pose is both an asana and a mudra; easier variants begin from Ardha Padmasana or Sukhasana.
Other meditation asanas such as Siddhasana are indicated until sufficient flexibility has been developed to sit comfortably in the Lotus. Sciatica, sacral infections and weak or injured knees are contra-indications to attempting the asana.
The lotus position may be impossible to achieve if the knees naturally point in when the feet point straight ahead, as this is an indication that the joints on the opposite ends of the femurs and tibiae are rotated relative to each other.
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