Did you know that 74% of Indians are suffering from stress and 88% suffer from anxiety? Depression, anxiety and stress levels around the world has hit an all time high.
Are you one of them?
Then let me tell you that out of all the options available to manage stress, yoga is the one that has proved to be a guaranteed solution.
And in all acts of meditation and pranayama in yoga, Padmasana is considered as the king of asanas. It not only helps you beat stress but also relax your mind, body and your entire nervous system.
Now you are thinking it is something only for advanced yoga practitioners, not my cup of tea.
Then let me make it your cup of tea. Admittedly, it would be easier for someone who has been practising yoga for a long time, to achieve this pose. But there is no reason why you, as a beginner should not try and achieve it.
Here is a simplified yet effective method if you are a novice at this.
If you try to sit in Padmasana right away, without ever exercising, you are going to fail or worse, end up hurting yourself if you force it. I am not trying to scare you. But it is important to understand the process before you attempt it. This step by step guide teaches you first how to prepare your body for the asana before you are able to achieve it.
Padmasana, also called as Lotus pose is a practice as old as time itself. Padma meaning lotus and asana meaning pose, padmasana is a cross-legged sitting position typically used during meditation and pranayama. Look anywhere in the ancient history of India, you see the sages, Hindu deities, icons of Buddhism and Jainism commonly assuming the padmasana.
I am not going to tell you the fastest way to achieve this. I will not promise you that you will be able to sit in padmasana within a short stipulated time.
You must know that it all depends on your body, flexibility of your limbs and essentially, your practice. While some may achieve it in one day, some others may take weeks, months or even years. But regular practice is the secret if you want to see tangible results. It is like an investment with compounding returns.
Indians and easterners are one step ahead as compared to westerners because we have grown up practicing the common cross legged sitting position since childhood and have relatively flexible legs. It can be considered a job half-done to prepare for padmasana. People who are typically used to sitting on chairs may take a little longer to achieve this pose.
Benefits of Padmasana
In today’s world people are constantly on the run. Deadlines, targets and goals are always rushing you around. Life is chaotic and your mind is always restless.
Padmasana quiets the noise around you and draws your awareness from the outside world to the inner being.
It may seem like a person is simply sitting, but its benefits are beyond simple. It is a key to bring about balance in four territories of your body; head, trunk, hands and legs. Your mind rests effectively on the spinal segment resulting in psychosomatic harmony. The various benefits of practicing padmasana are:
- Relieves anxiety.
- Brings down stress levels.
- Improves digestion.
- Reduces menstrual discomfort.
- Reduces muscular tension and brings blood pressure under control.
- Strengthens knee joints.
- Opens your hips and improves flexibility in knees and ankles.
- Improves posture.
- Helps to remove unwanted fat from the hip and thighs.
- Helps pregnant ladies during child-birth.
- Awakens your mental, physical and spiritual energy.
You can read what Inquirer.net has to say about the many advantages of practising padmasana.
How to prepare your body for Padmasana?
Padmasana makes use of three key sections of your body – hip, knee and the ankle. This pose is difficult for most people because of stiffness in the said regions. Therefore to begin with, you prepare each of these sections individually. These warm up exercises are a must before you attempt the pose.
a. Sit with your spine erect with your legs stretched straight before you. (Sit on a yoga mat or a well carpeted area)
b. Rotate your ankles in the clockwise direction.
c. Now rotate them in anti-clockwise direction.
d. Bend your ankle backwards towards you while inhaling. Now bend it forwards pushing your toes and exhale at the same time.
e. Repeat each of the exercises for at least five times.
a. Sit with your spine erect on the floor with your legs stretched straight before you.
b. Fold your right leg backwards bending at the knee while holding your thigh for support.
c. Rotate your leg from the knee down in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.
d. Now fold your leg and unfold it front and back.
e. Do the above steps with your left leg.
f. Repeat each of the exercises for at least five times.
Sit with your spine erect and legs stretched straight before you.
Warm up 1:
- Bend your knees and bring both your feet towards the pelvis, let the soles of your feet touch each other.
- You may place your hands underneath and hold your feet for support.
- Make an effort to bring your heels as close to the pelvis as possible.
- Take a deep breath in. Breathe out and gently press the thighs downwards pushing the knees towards the floor.
- Now in the same position flap your knees slowly up and down like the wings of a butterfly gradually increasing the speed as far as you are comfortable. Feel the stretch in the inner thighs.
- Relax breathing slowly and deeply and repeat the exercise at least 5 times.
Warm up 2:
- Bend and lift your right leg and hold on to the right ankle and the right knee with both your hands like holding a baby and cradle it slowly from right to left for a few times. This helps to open your hips.
- Repeat the same with your left leg.
Ardha Padmasana: (Half Lotus pose)
a. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched forward.
b. Assume the simple cross-legged pose where the legs are folded.
c. Lift your right leg and place it on your left thigh.
d. Keep your spine erect and broaden your chest.
e. Stretch your arms straight, resting the back of your hands on your knees. Bring together the tip of your thumbs and index fingers while keeping the other fingers straight. (Mudra position)
f. Breathe in and breathe out slowly for at least 5 times in this position.
g. Now slowly try pushing your right knee towards the ground.
h. Repeat the above steps with your left leg.
You can practice ardha padmasana until you are comfortable for padmasana.
1.Sit on the floor comfortable. Assume the simple cross-legged pose where the legs are folded.
2. Bend your knee and using your hands place it on the left thigh. Make sure the sole of your feet point upwards and the heel is close to the abdomen.
3. Do the same with your left leg.
4. Place your hands in the mudra position keeping your spine erect. You can also fold your hands in a namaskar.
5. Inhale and exhale deeply holding the position as long as comfortably possible.
6. Repeat the same with the other leg on top.
Contraindications and Cautions
Avoid this asana if you have the following problems.
- Knee injury
- Ankle injury
Why can he or she do it, but I can’t?
Mainly, don’t compare yourself to others. This is true for any yoga pose or anything in life for that matter. Each has his or her own pace of doing things and reaching a place. Focus on your own journey and enjoy the experience. Moreover, I cannot stress this enough – PRACTICE!
The major barrier that prevents you from attempting this is your fear, your determination that it is not something you can do.
Once you break down the goal into minute achievable goals, you build your confidence on the way and before you know it, you would have reached quite far.
Remember, that end goal here is not only to master the pose, but also to enjoy the process. Appreciate the baby steps it takes to get there. You incur no loss but gain plenty in every step you take.
Don’t let what you can’t do, stop you from doing what you can do. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Take your first step today!