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How to do the Easy Pose (Sukhasana) in Yoga
A comprehensive guide to the Easy Pose sprinkled with tips and insights.
By VINEET KAUL
Last Update on 28th July, 2022
Learn how to do the Lotus Pose with perfect form
Benefits of Padmasana and the symbolism behind it
Yoga instructors give tips to get in and out of the pose safely
Common modifications and variations of the Lotus Pose
Also, read the step-by-step instructions to Siddhasana Pose
Calling the Lotus Pose the King of Asanas implies every pose in yoga is not created equal. I encountered this unexpected fact while studying the Goraksha Sataka and Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad to examine the concept of pranayama in ancient texts.
Therein I discovered that the Lotus Pose was the only acceptable pose for yoga practices, at least back then. What followed, was a series of findings across texts declaring Padmasana to be the ideal sitting posture for yoga breathing.
Across the paths of yoga, I found two versions, a) an "easy" Lotus Pose, which is the one we practice today, and b) the traditional pose for yoga asana as described in the oldest texts, which is now called Baddha Padmasana, the Bound Lotus Pose.
The simpler variation, perhaps due to its use in Hindu and Buddhist iconography, became mainstream. This phenomenon seemingly occurred in the 20th century when Indian yogis moved to the West to spread the theory and practice yoga.
For what it is worth, there's no mention of Baddha Padmasana in the classical literature of yoga. But to avoid confusion, we will stick to the status quo and talk about the steps, benefits, and modifications of the Lotus Pose as it is used today.
Meaning and Purpose
Padmasana is a combination of two Sanskrit words – Padma meaning ‘lotus’ and asana meaning ‘posture.’ Thereby, the English translation of Padmasana is Lotus Pose or Lotus Posture .
The lotus flower is highly revered in Indic culture. The blossoming of a Lotus symbolizes spiritual growth and expansion of the consciousness. Padamasana is allied to all great spiritual practices that help us attain spiritual growth.
Anatomically speaking, Lotus Pose is the most natural arrangement of the head, hands, torso, and legs. The folded legs create a steady base and ensure that the spine remains erect. The elongated spine facilitates the upward flow of prana.
The prana-flow achieved in this yoga pose creates psychosomatic equilibrium.
What is the Lotus Pose in yoga?
The Lotus Pose or Padmasana is a yoga asana that involves sitting cross-legged with the right foot on the left thigh and left foot on the right thigh. The hands are placed on the knees and gaze is fixed at the tip of the nose. It is one of the oldest seated yoga poses, revered in every major yoga text.
Lotus Pose Benefits
Lotus Pose targets the hips, knees, and ankles.
It stimulates the spine, hips, pelvis, and lower abdomen.
It increases lung capacity and boosts respiration.
Lotus Pose increases energy levels and concentration.
It calms the nerves, reduces stress, and improves inner awareness.
It keeps the spine upright and improves posture.
It provides relief in sciatica and menstrual pains.
It improves the flexibility of joints and ligaments.
The spiritual benefits of Padmasana include improving the flow of life-energy and awakening Kundalini. Moreover, the Lotus Posture is associated with Vayu or the air element, which is integral to connecting to the ‘Higher Self.
The Lotus Pose unites the Prana Vayu (located in the upper body) and downward moving Apana vayu (located in the lower abdomen). To fully understand this, you should be acquainted with the five types of prana and how Prana and Apana unite in the navel region to stoke the digestive fire.
We have covered the 'Big Five' seated meditation postures used in pranayama and yoga breathing:
Check out the other guides and our Instragram page for infographics and annotated illustrations. Also note that the yoga poses are ranked in order of difficulty and should be used based on your skill level.
Lotus Pose Basics
Difficulty Level: Advanced
Sanskrit Name: Padmasana (वज्रासन)
Targets: Quads, knees, ankles
Chakra: Root or Muladhara Chakra
Used for: Asana, Pranayama, Meditation
Props: Towel, Blanket, Block
Alternatives: Siddhasana Pose
Variations): Half Lotus (Ardha Padmasana), Bound Lotus (Baddha Padmasana), Psychic Union (Yoga Mudrasana)
“While it may appear harmless, sitting in the Lotus Pose is quite a feat, says Jenna Dowell, a yoga instructor and physical therapist. “Padmasana mandates supple hip adductors, flexible hamstrings, hip mobility, and other pre-requisites people with a sedentary lifestyle lack.”
She’s right. Mastering this yoga asana is a long-term pursuit, best done gradually.
Beginners should not jump into Padmasana. First learn Shroni Chakra (hip rotations) and Bound Angle Pose to increase the flexibility of the hip, legs, and joints. Get comfortable being in Siddhasana with perfect form before progressing to learn the Lotus Pose.
“Some initial discomfort is normal. However, an individual should only perform this posture as long as it feels restful. The body and breathing should remain relaxed the entire time, and there should be no pain or tingling while performing it,” Jenna adds.
How to do Padmasana: Lotus Pose Steps
Roll out your yoga mat and sit with the legs outstretched, hip width apart. Bend the right leg and pull it in, placing the foot on the opposite (left) thigh. The right sole should be facing up, the toes pointing away from you, and the heel should be by the groin, touching the pubic bone.
After adjusting the right leg for comfort, bend the left leg and place the foot on top of the right thigh.
Keep the head, neck, and spine in a straight line, perpendicular to the ground. Relax the shoulders and open the chest by lifting the sternum (breastbone).
Keep the arms relaxed with the elbows slightly bend. Place your hands on the knees facing down for grounding or up for receiving. You can use yoga hand gestures like Dhyana or Chin mudra.Observe and adjust until you feel stable and balanced.
Your knees should touch the ground in the final position. This sitting arrangement is called Padmasana or Lotus Pose in yoga.
How to Approach Padmasana
Padmasana is the king of yoga poses, the ultimate sitting posture for meditation. That said, the Lotus Pose demands a high level of hip flexibility and range of motion. Some people don’t find it easy and others struggle to sit in it for more than a few seconds.
“Novices should start with Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose) before attempting the full pose,” says Jenna, a yoga instructor and physical therapist. “Get comfortable with coming into one side of the pose and use different legs every time,” she adds.
“Beginners should alternate the leg on top every time they do the Lotus Pose. You can avoid strain and injury by using supportive yoga props. Place stacked blankets under the sit bones, tuck a block under each knee, and/or use a yoga towel to ease ankle discomfort,” Jenna adds.
Safety and Precautions
Lotus Pose is contraindicated in the following:
Chronic inflammation or paint in the joints
Leg surgery or injury
Please note that all the Lotus Pose variations demand ankle flexibility, good rotation of leg joints, developed abductors, and hip joint. Therefore, Padmasana should not be attempted until lower body flexibility is developed by practicing other yoga poses.
Variation: Ardha Padmasana (Half-Lotus Pose)
Ardha Padmasana is half of the Lotus Pose, which means we only focus on one foot at a time. It can be used for meditation by itself or in preparation for the full Lotus Pose. To do it, sit on a yoga mat in Easy Pose or any of the cross-legged yoga poses.
Bring the right foot on top of the left thigh with the sole facing upward. Place it close the pubic bone or as high as possible without strain. You may not be able to place it in the hip crease right away, which is fine. Stay in the Half Lotus Posture and take 5 to 10 slows breaths.
To get out of the pose and into Easy Pose. You can use your hands to release the right foot and place it back on the floor. You can do the same thing with the other side (left foot). Generally, beginners may find it easier to do one side based on their body’s physical capacity.
Variation: Baddha Padmasana
In Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Lotus Posture is described as:
“With the right foot on the left thigh and left on the right, cross your hands over the back and grab your toes. Focus your gaze on the tip of the nose as you press your chin against the sternum (upper chest or breastbone). This is padmāsana (Lotus Pose) – one of the yamīs (destroyer of the disease).” – HYP, Ch 2, Verse 46-48.
The description is nearly identical in the Gheranda Samhita. It states, and I summarize, the hands should cross the back and grab the big toes. The author also insists the right leg should always be underneath the left leg in the Lotus Posture.
In modern yoga, these two descriptions of the Lotus Pose are recognized as Baddha Padmasana (Bound Lotus Pose); an advanced variation of Padmasana. It is significantly harder and serves a wholly different purpose in yoga asana.
Yogi Svatmarama describes the benefits of the traditional Padmasana in Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which are conspicuously similar to the Jalandhara bandha.
To achieve this, one must press the tongue against the base of the teeth of the upper jaw and practice the mula bandha. It causes the inhaled breath to draw the Apana vayu upwards (Ch 2 - V 48-50, Hatha Yoga Pradipika).
When you add these elements, the pose is a kriya – an asana done in a particular manner to achieve specific benefits. In this context, the throat lock is a part of the pose, and the root lock is applied during the exhaled breath to awaken Kundalini.
Svatmarama proclaims Padmasana is essential to controlling the breath and attaining freedom from bondage (to the material world). He also says that regular practice of the Lotus Pose is the key to becoming a Siddha - an accomplished Yogi.
Lotus Symbolism in Indic Spiritual Traditions
The lotus flower is an omnipresent image in Vedic and Puranic texts. It is a central motif in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and other derivative religious traditions. It’s also mentioned in texts on sculpture and temple architecture like the Shilpashastra and Staphatya Ved.
In Hinduism, the Lotus represents divinity and immortality in the form of a flower wielded by a deity or a stylized lotus throne on which they are seated. A deity sitting in the Lotus pose symbolizes deep meditation (primary deities) and a worshiping attitude (subordinate divinities).
In Buddhism, the lotus flower is also one of the eight auspicious symbols of the dharmic traditions. This motif is one of the most recognizable aspects of Buddhist iconography and all Buddhist deities are pictured sitting on a lotus or holding it in their hand.
Padma in Yoga and Spiritual traditions
In the yogic traditions, the lotus flower represents the 7 chakras (energy centers) in the subtle layer of the body. They are connected by the three main nadis – Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna, which open into the Crown Chakra, depicted as a thousand-petal lotus.
The Lotus Pose is listed as one of the basic poses in every seminal text on yoga. As per Patanjali, the four basic sitting postures for yoga are Sukhasana, Padmasana, Vajrasana, and Dandasana. The four essential poses in Hatha Yoga are Siddhasana, Padmasana, Baddha Konasana, and Simhaaasana.
We hope this step by step guide to the Lotus Pose and its benefits will ensure you do it with proper form. Don't bite into the 'King of Poses' hype and jump into it before your body has the prerequisite flexibility to pull it off.
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Translation Source: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary
Dix Megan, What causes tingling in my feet? Healthline
Eating food in Sukhasana posture can have magical health benefits. The Times of India
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