PADMASANA (Lotus pose)
The Yoga term ‘Asana’ translates into ‘Seat’, implying a steady posture in which the Yogi could sit in, to practice Meditation. Yoga is primarily a Meditative science and special importance is given to those Asanas (physical postures) that allow the practitioner to sit in Meditation. In fact it is said that all the 8.6 million asanas that exist are simply performed to make the body strong and flexible enough to sit in one of these meditative sitting asanas.
Padmasana is the ubiquitous lotus pose that we find Yogis and Saints depicted seated in, in paintings and statues. Padmasana is highly beneficial for practicing meditation for 2 reasons. Firstly, it blocks the blood circulation to the lower body, and hence all the blood and oxygen is reserved for the central nervous system; (Chakra system and Sushumna Nadi, specifically in Yogic terms) exactly what we need while meditating. Secondly, once perfected, the pose helps you to sit for long periods of time with your back straight – another requisite in yogic meditation practices.
Although it may seem difficult at first, by increasing the flexibility of the hips through regular yoga practice, one can eventually sit in padmasana.
How to do Padmasana?
From a basic sitting posture, stretch your legs outwards. Now take your left (or right) leg and bend your knee, placing your left foot on your right thigh.
Now bend the right knee and look to place the right foot over the left thigh. Once you have done this, adjust your feet slightly till you are comfortable in the posture.
You can also train yourself to sit with the opposite leg bent first, and so on. Hold this posture while doing breathing Pranayama or Meditation. Then return to the start posture and relax your legs.
If you have damaged your knees, ankles or hips through an accident or through arthritis, avoid this asana as the joints will be strained.
If you are unable to do the pose initially, then you can do half the pose – Ardha Padmasana. Place one foot over the other thigh and bend the other leg and place it under.