Padmasana, or Lotus pose, is in many ways the quintesential yoga posture. It is the one most non-yoga practitioners think of when they imagine a yoga practice (that and ommmmmmmm). It seems appropriate to focus on padmasana at the end of the year because it represents consolidation of energy, balanced energy, and expanded energy. You see this pose at the end of every Astanga class in 3 forms: badha (bound) padmasana, padmasana, and utplutihi (sprung up). These three forms represent a full life cycle. They are followed by the final stage, savasana or corpse pose.
December represents the time of year with the least amount of light and therefore the best time for energy containment, rest, and replenishment. It is ironic that this is the time of year many of us are running around like crazy preparing for the holidays! Yoga practice becomes even more important during times of stress and energy depletion. Padmasana works to take the energy that has been built through the practice and bind it in. In other words, at this time of year, many of us are wasting or leaking prana. Padmasana is a mudra or seal that helps to close the leaks!
From an anatomical perspective, this posture is often entered improperly and ends up being more injurious and less restorative. Padmasana requires deep mobility in the hips and the flexibility and strength required changes based on whether you enter the pose standing, seated, or upside down. The important factor is that the knee takes the stress when the hip doesn’t move as fully as it should. The even more important factor is: it isn’t imperative that you be able to do lotus in order to have a fulfilling and beneficial yoga practice! The benefits of the posture can be gained without injurying the knees. This pose falls into my “partially genetic” category, meaning that some bodies are much more genetically inclined to be able to fold their legs into lotus than others.
Throughout the month, we will explore ways to enter and prepare for lotus safely and how to gain the benefits of the pose even if you can’t get into it fully or at all. Most importantly, achieving lotus pose does not make you more enlightened! Practicing regularly, without getting hung up on what you can and cannot do, leads you there!