So, today we’re going to discuss the following subjects:
- Obstacles in learning padmasana
- Exercises that are helpful in mastering padmasana
- The general safety advice when it comes to stretching in yoga
- + Some tips in performing the lotus pose
I’ll try to not make this post long, concentrating mainly on the important stuff.
Obstacles in the practice of the lotus pose
There are two main obstacles here:
- The lack of flexibility, and
To deal with the first thing (flexibility) we have lots of various stretching exercise programs aimed at opening the pelvic-hip joints, working with knees and feet.
As far as pain, there are two major things: 1) pain of the physiological origin, and 2) pain that comes from the subtle contamination. The first type of pain is gradually removed by an appropriate practice of preparatory exercises or asanas that help obtain the necessary muscle tone and joints flexibility. The second type of pain is more difficult to address since the cause is not that obvious. In classic yoga system this pain is dealt with through the following of yama and niyama, and also by practicing meditation and abstinence of senses (pratyahara).
Another interesting opinion is that the more problems with the spine a person has the more they break the fundamental principles of life. Our spine is a sort of foundation or base of our body (it supports everything). In yoga it is described that our body is heavily connected with the universe and its laws, so it also resembles the universe in many ways. If a person lives in disharmony with the universe and nature, their body reflects this attitude and gradually degrades. The moral here is that our way of life and thinking is directly related to what is going on in our body. And if we extend this thought even more, according to yoga shastras (yoga scriptures), every disease and condition we have is a fruit of our previous activity, so if we brake the harmony laws of the universe we suffer – either through our body (diseases, etc.), or through our mind (mental disorder, anxiety, etc.). Ok, I hope you got the idea.
Now here are some examples:
– Pain in the pelvic-femoral joint may indicate difficulties with the two lower chakras: muladhara and svadhisthana. The subtle cause of this pain may rest in: aggressive behavior, excessive lust, too much fear, etc.
– Knee pain is often due to excessive pride and respectively – the lack of humility.
– Feet pain tells that a person is not ascetic enough (yes, we need to keep ourselves under some control to avoid subtle contaminations).
Also there is an astrological thing: our knees and spine (spine reflects the compliance with laws) are controlled by Saturn, thighs (chastity) and feet (asceticism) are managed by Jupiter. And these two planets are among the most “spiritual” ones, although their effect on a person is quite contrary: Jupiter bestows blessing and good luck, while Saturn is a planet of retribution, suffering and death (but it helps to get detached from the material illusion and seek for the spiritual realm).
OK, enough esoteric, right?
Preparation exercises for lotus pose
There are many yoga poses that can help mastering the lotus pose, but I’m going to list the most common ones.
- Purna-titali (butterfly)
- Preparation for kurmasana, when you spread your legs apart, and lean alternately to one or the other leg (the folds must be done in the pelvic-femoral joint, and by no means in the lower back).
So standing poses like Trikonasana or Parsvakonasana may also help in opening hips.
Safety tips for doing the lotus pose and for the stretching in general
– Never do it under the pain! You need to reach the state when you just about feeling that some pain, but not to the state when you already experience it, not to speak of enduring it! Once you reach your comfortable limit, hold it, and try to relax. Pain during stretching exercises indicates a micro trauma, which occurs when muscle fibers are being torn. Another point is that when a muscle is stretched too much, its defense mechanism is turned on and it contracts reflexively, so the next time your flexibility will be even worse.
– You can adjust the way you do your preparatory poses: if standing poses seem too difficult to maintain in the beginning, start with lower ones (sitting and lying).
– Always practice in a relaxed and peaceful state. Do some relaxation (shavasana, for example) in the beginning of your practice; turn on some soft and slow music – it works fine; you can also use candles and incense.
Some of the subtleties of mastering padmasana
According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, an asana is considered to be fully mastered once it can be performed for three hours without any interruption and discomfort. Therefore, a quick twist into Padmasana and immediate getting out of it can hardly be considered a mastering the pose. So, if you finally managed to get into the pose there are few tips for you how to extend your pose keeping time.
But before I tell you the tips, there is a question: why should I need to remain in the pose for a longer period of time? The answer is that the longer you stay in the pose the more benefits you get from it. Very simple. It is the way the majority of yoga practices work.
OK, the tips:
– While being in the lotus pose, try doing some exercises such as forward and backward leaning, side leaning, rotate the body around its axis, left and right twisting (but be careful with them – do not allow the unpleasant sensations in the lower back, try twisting in the thoracic spine region).
– If there is a pain, first of all try moving your hips and legs without quitting the pose.
– If the pain persists, do not endure it, change the pose – do paschimottanasana instead, then janusirshasana, some inverted poses (Viparita Karani, halasana, etc., but do not do headstand, especially if you are a beginner). Once the pain disappears, sit in padmasana again and continue your practice. Repeat several times – as much as you feel comfortable.
Well, I hope this post – the lotus pose for beginners – was helpful or at least interesting for you; make your practice for lotus pose efficient and safe!