The lotus position is one of the most useful and important asana. It is the preferred posture for meditation and the breathing exercises of pranayama. Even by those who don’t practice yoga, the lotus pose is arguably the most well-known yoga pose today. Many people believe it to be the “classic” yoga pose. Many yoga classes begin or end with the lotus pose, which is frequently used for meditation. For those who are new to yoga, however, Lotus Pose is not a good option because it is an advanced pose. If you are a beginner or if your lower body flexibility is limited, be sure to try different seated positions, such as Easy Pose (Sukhasana).
Preliminary Exercises for the Lotus Position:
1. In the supine position, draw one knee up toward the sternum and, with the folded hands, hold a pull of the palpable stretch toward the center of the chest.
2. Extend the drawn leg and gently pull the foot toward the head with the hands.
3. Place the feet in butterfly position and slowly, but steadily, move the knees down toward the floor. Sitting with the back to a wall can strengthen the hands.
4. Sitting in heel seat, open the knees and legs shoulder-width apart and lower the buttocks down to the floor. Then, with a rounded back, move the torso and head down to the floor in the supine position and remain there for a few minutes. The hands and elbows can provide support.
5. Place one foot on the adjacent thigh and gently bring the knee down to the floor. While one hand holds the foot in place, the other can support the flexion. This exercise can be strengthened if done from the supine position.
Sit on the floor with your legs extended, then place your right foot on your left thigh, keep your foot fixed with your left hand, and bring your knees a little closer together. Then bend the left leg on the floor, grab the left foot with the right hand and pull it up onto the right thigh while the left hand fixes the left knee near the floor. Then try to bring both knees a little closer together. Straighten the upper body by lifting the chest and pulling the lower back and abdomen back a little. Lower and release the shoulders and knees, relax the hips and groin, bring the head to a raised position (chin slightly tucked toward the sternum) and rest the arms and hands either on the legs or in the lap. The fingers are then formed into Chin Mudra (hands on knees, close thumb and forefinger, extend the other fingers) or Dhyana Mudra (hands in lap, place right hand in left so that the tips of the thumbs touch).
Physical Effects of the Lotus Position:
In lotus position, the practitioner can keep his body immobile for a long time. The construction is firm and secure and promotes keeping the back straight and erect. The posture calms the body and consciousness alike and is therefore the first step towards successful meditation. It strengthens the nerves in the area of the coccyx and the lumbar vertebrae, promotes digestion and helps with many nervous and emotional disorders. Through the sitting posture and the cross positioning of the feet, pressure is exerted on acupressure points of the spleen, gallbladder and liver meridians. This achieves a harmonizing effect on many body energies.
Energetic Effects of the Lotus Position:
Through lotus position, many body energies are actively awakened and directed. The position of the arms and legs enables the nadis to develop large amounts by redirecting the energy flows, which should preferably be directed from the Mulladhara chakra upward to the crown. The effects on the lower three chakras are particularly strong here. The exercise of the lotus is strongly dynamizing and invigorating and may cause difficulty in falling asleep. Therefore, it should not be practiced too close to bedtime. It is particularly suitable for meditation in the morning, although some attention should be paid to preparing the legs.
The Internal Structure of the Lotus Position:
Like all postures, lotus position has a typical internal structure. The center of the posture is Kanda, the body center in the abdomen, which represents the resting center. From this center a force seems to flow on the one hand towards the cushion or floor and towards the knees, on the other hand a current goes from here up the spine, which seems to flow via the neck into the head and further into space, while the outer sides of the upper body flow via shoulders and arms/hands back down to the Kanda. The perception and realization of these currents are a readily chosen point of entry and concentration for those meditation practices that focus on mindfulness and awareness of the “IS”. Initially, a link with the breath will crystallize (directed upward in the in-breath, flowing down toward the cushion in the out-breath), but later this structure will no longer be felt as carried by the breath, but as a perception independent of the phases and modes of breathing, drawing energy only from the breath.
Contraindications of the Lotus Position:
The contraindications are due to the requirements of the posture. No meditation posture can or should cause pain or discomfort. In such cases, it is advisable to switch to the half or quarter lotus posture. Special attention should be paid to the occurrence of pain in the area of the outside of the knee. The practice should not be continued until this pain subsides or disappears. In general, a great deal of feeling and caution should accompany the practice.
Practicing the Lotus Position:
Lotus position is basically practiced for dhyana and pranayama. Nevertheless, it is useful to often integrate the preliminary exercises and also the actual posture into the practice program. It is best to practice through the lotus position or its half-posture, trying to relax and let go. Even a few minutes (two to five minutes) daily will bring good results over time. It is important that the knees come closer together in the posture, which brings the foot further up the thigh. This greatly reduces the strain on the instep of the foot and makes the posture more comfortable. You can practice the lotus without or only with a very thin cushion.