The Sanskrit word Padma means “lotus.” Padmaasana or the crossed leg pose resemble the outspread flower petals of a lotus, the symbol of spiritual awakening in the yogic tradition. There is no doubt that this pose requires a great deal of hip mobility and if practiced wrongly can strain ankle, knee, and hip, a few injury-prone areas.
3 Key Essentials for Padmaasana
There are three essentials to achieve a successful Padmaasana
Lengthen your Quadriceps
To practice Padmaasana safely, you need to be able to fully close your knee joint (bend the knee and press the calf against the thigh), to prevent any torque (twisting) at the knee. The knee is a hinge joint which means it has little-to-no patience for twisting movements! That way you can move the thigh and shin bones together as one unit and avoid any twisting at your knee joint.
If you find this a challenge, work on lengthening your quads first to avoid hurting your knees. You can do this by practising Virasana.
Opening your Hips
The next important preparation for Padmaasana is hip opening – being able to externally rotate your hips. To do this, the inner thighs need to stretch and lengthen. To practice Padmaasana safely start off with Baddha Konasana by bringing the soles of the feet together and placing the knees out to the side. This is external rotation at the hip joints.
Note: While practicing Baddha Konasana, if your knees are quite high up, away from the floor, it’s a good indication that your hips need a little more love before you start working on Padmaasana. If your hips aren’t quite open enough don’t try to force yourself into lotus pose or else your knees will feel the strain. Once the knees are starting to drop down towards the floor, you’re ready for the final stage of preparation.
Practicing Internal Hip Rotation
Even though Padmaasana requires the hips to rotate externally, once you’re in the posture the thighs need to rotate internally. This helps to tilt the pelvis forward and allows your lower back to take on its natural curve, letting you sit happily in Padmaasana for longer periods without any chance of back pain. Janu Sirsasana A is the perfect posture to get your hips ready for Padmaasana. The position of the thigh bone and rotation required in this pose is almost identical to Padmaasana.
Steps to Practise Padmasana Safely
- Begin with warm up by practising 5 rounds of Surya Namaskar A + B, followed by the standing sequence and seated postures of the Primary Series of Ashtanga yoga.
- Sit in Dandasana, close the right knee joint by bringing the knee up to the chest. The heel should come onto the back of the thigh (or very close).
- Open the right hip joint by dropping the knee out to the side.
- Place your hands underneath the right foot and gently draw the heel up towards the navel and across into the left groin.
- Repeat on the left side. Take your time.
- Once you’re in the position, tilt your pelvis forward and let your spine assume its natural curve. Let the thigh bones shoot out from the hip joints as the thighs rotates internally (it’s like they are rolling forward in the hip sockets). The soles of the foot should point up towards the ceiling s you roll the thighs forward.
Key Essentials to Remember in Half or Full Lotus Pose:
- Keep the knee joint closed at all times and move the thigh & shin bones as one unit
- Once you’re in Padmasana, this posture requires some internal rotation of the thigh bones
- Let the thigh bones shoot out of the hip sockets
- Do not flex or point the foot, but point and invert.