Enjoy another article by my teacher, Jason Crandell
November 7, 2014 by Jason Crandell
Essential Sequence: Fold into Lotus Pose
Lotus Pose (Padmasana) is one you were likely visually familiar with before you ever set foot in a yoga studio. Surely you’d seen sculptures of Siddartha or photographs of Indian sadhus with their legs tightly folded together in a pretzel shape. It’s a pose that’s associated with serene states of meditation — and the shape of the pose really does encourage quiet. The thighbones root down toward the earth, helping you feel grounded. And the shape of the legs creates a strong base of support that allows the spine to rise naturally and comfortably skyward. Perhaps the tranquil look of the pose is what makes us all pine for it. But make no mistake — it’s not to be attempted lightly. It requires an enormous amount of flexibility in the hip joint and if your body just doesn’t “go there,” you risk hurting your knees. Rest assured there are plenty of other Lotus-like options out there that are conducive to meditation. (And we’ll cover some of them in a future post.)
In the meantime, you can get many benefits with a sequence that prepares you for Lotus. And if your body is ready to fold into the pose, you will know. (Trust me on this.) There will be no knee pain, no stress, no sense of prying or leveraging or forcing. Instead, it will feel like you are folding yourself into the pose.
Most students make the same mistake when they open their hips for Lotus Pose: They focus on stretching the outer hips but forget to open the other muscle groups that comprise the hip joint. Don’t get me wrong—-the outer hips usually need plenty of help. But, the key to freedom and balance in your hips is working with allthe muscle groups that affect the joint, not just your external rotators. I can’t promise you a Lotus, but practicing the following sequence will make your hips be happier, healthier, and more supple as you work toward it.
If you want to make this sequence a stronger, sweatier flow practice, feel free to practice several Sun Salutations first. You can also add standing poses, arm balances, and inversions to increase the intensity of this practice.
If you’re in need of a quieter, more contemplative practice, you can finish with seated meditation or pranayama. As always, feel free to improvise if you feel the need to include a few additional postures or omit anything that doesn’t work for your body.
Hold each pose in the sequence for at least 5 breaths and be sure to practice both sides before attempting Lotus Pose.
One more thing before you start the sequence: Forcing your body into Lotus Pose is not worth it in the long run. Lotus is a technically tricky pose and, even with precise sequencing, many bodies will not be ready for the pose. So, as always, listen to your body and don’t push through pain. Pain in your knees or your hips is a sign to back off. Got it? Good.