the lotus posture
The Lotus Posture is named for the lotus flower — a type of water lily that has multiple petals and floats on ponds and slow streams. When you see a real lotus flower, up close and personal, you understand how this posture inherited its name. The lotus flower possesses a calm, quiet beauty that yoga practitioners can contemplate — and mirror — in this seated posture.
Because the lotus has its roots in the muck of the lake or pond bottom and its blooms face toward heaven, because it moves with the water yet doesn’t lose its rooting, it is the perfect symbol of the Yoga practice that is both grounded and spiritually oriented.
Part of the power and effectiveness of the Lotus Position comes from the triangle shape your body assumes. Many Eastern cultures believe that a triangular shape, such as those of the pyramids of Egypt, harnesses life energy. Triangles also symbolize knowledge, will, and action, three key aspects of your Power Yoga practice. By turning your body into a mini-pyramid, you can tap into this mystical energy and stay very grounded at the same time.
Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your knees and pull your heels as close to your pelvis as you can. Allow your knees to fall out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together. Grasp both feet with your hands while keeping your back straight. To deepen the stretch, slowly fold forward. Hold for 10 deep breaths.
This pose will stretch out your inner thigh muscles (abductors). Doing it regularly will allow your knees to gradually drop towards the floor and make getting into lotus easier.
From a seated posture, bend your left leg and bring your left foot to the inside of your right thigh. Keeping your torso rotated to the left and your chest open, bend toward your right leg. Allow the right side of your body to sink toward your right leg, and try to take hold of your right toes with your right hand. If you can, stretch your left arm over your head to meet the right. Hold for 10 deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
This pose targets the inner thigh muscles, the quads, and the often stiff muscles and tissues along the side of the torso that connect the waist and hip area.
From downward facing dog, step your left leg forward and lower your left thigh and shin onto the mat. Flex your left ankle to protect your knee. Keep your right leg straight behind you on the mat. When you feel ready, stretch your arms out in front of you and slowly lower your torso towards the floor. Hold for at least 10 deep breaths, and then repeat on the other side.
Pigeon pose stretches the same areas as eye of the needle, but it allows you to stretch a bit deeper as you’re using the weight of your body to sink further into the hips. If you only have time to do one pose, make it this one!
Cross one leg over the other so that both ankles are resting next to the opposite hip, and your knees are stacked. For our purposes, you can do the pose with your arms in any comfortable position. Stay here for a few breaths, and then walk your hands in front of you and begin to fold forward. Hold for 10 deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
This intense hip opener targets both the external and internal hip rotators, making it an ideal pose to prepare for lotus.
Sit on the floor with your legs crossed. Bring your right foot in close to your groin. Place the outside of your left ankle onto your right thigh, close to your hip. Allow your hands to rest on your thighs or knees. Straighten your back, and try to sit comfortably here for at least 5 minutes.
Before attempting full lotus, you should be able sit comfortably in half lotus on both sides for at least several minutes, with both knees in contact with or almost touching the floor.
Sit comfortably with your legs crossed. Place the outside of your right foot on top of your left thigh, close to your groin. If you feel comfortable here, gently and carefully bring your left foot up and over your shin, and place it on your right thigh. Allow your hands to rest freely on your knees, thighs, or in your lap. Straighten your back and hold the pose for as long as you comfortably can.
Once you feel comfortable doing half lotus on both sides, you are ready to attempt full lotus. Never force yourself into this posture, and if you feel pain, especially in your knees, STOP, and keep doing the preparatory stretches until you can get into the posture comfortably.