Lotus position

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Hsuan Hua meditating in the lotus position. Hong Kong, 1953

The Lotus Position (Sanskrit: पद्मासन [pɐd̪mɑːs̪ɐn̪ɐ], IAST: padmāsana)[1] is a cross-legged sitting asana originating in meditative practices of ancient India, in which the feet are placed on the opposing thighs. It is an established asana, commonly used for meditation, in the Hindu Yoga, Jain and Buddhist contemplative traditions. The asana is said to resemble a lotus, to encourage breathing proper to associated meditative practice, and to foster physical stability.

Shiva, the meditating ascetic God of Hinduism, Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, and the Jinas of Jainism have been depicted in the lotus position.

Etymology[edit]

Statue of Jina Rishabhanatha at LACMA

Padmāsana means "Lotus throne" and is also a term for actual thrones, often decorated with lotus foliage motifs, on which figures in art sit. In Balinese Hinduism, a prominent feature of temples is a special form of padmasana shrine, with empty thrones mounted on a column, for deities, especially Acintya.

In Chinese Buddhism, the lotus position is also called the "vajra position" (Skt. vajrāsana, Ch. 金剛座 jīngāngzuò).[2] The traditions of Tibetan Buddhism also refer to the lotus position as the "vajra position."[3] It is also practiced largely by Baba Ramdev in India.

Position[edit]

Lahiri Mahasaya in Lotus position

From the common sitting down on the floor (Indian Style, Cross-legged) position (asana), one foot is placed on top of the opposite thigh with its sole facing upward and heel close to the abdomen. The other foot is then lifted up slowly and placed on the opposite thigh in a symmetrical way.

The knees are in contact with the ground. The torso is placed in balance and alignment such that the spinal column supports it with minimal muscular effort. The torso is centered above the hips. To relax the head and neck, the jaw is allowed to fall towards the neck and the back of the neck to lengthen. The shoulders move backwards and the ribcage lifts. The tongue rests on the roof of the mouth. The hands may rest on the knees in chin or jnana mudra. The arms are relaxed with the elbows slightly bent.

The eyes may be closed, the body relaxed, with awareness of the overall asana. Adjustments are made until balance and alignment are experienced. Alignment that creates relaxation is indicative of a suitable position for the asana. The asana should be natural and comfortable, without any sharp pains.

In most cases, a cushion (zafu) or mat (zabuton) is necessary in order to achieve this balance. One sits on the forward edge of the cushion or mat in order to incline one's pelvis forward, making it possible to center the spine and provide the necessary support. Only the most flexible people can achieve this asana without a support under their pelvis (and likewise does The Dalai Lama explicitly advise).[4]

Contra-indications[edit]

Lotus position

Those without sufficient flexibility to place both knees on the ground when in full lotus position should not use it, as it strains the knees and lower back of such people.[citation needed] Other meditation asanas are indicated until sufficient flexibility has been developed to sit comfortably in the Lotus. Sciatica, sacral infections and weak or injured knees are contra-indications to attempting the asana.[5]

Benefits[edit]

पद्मासन (padmasana)

The Lotus position is adopted to allow the body to be held completely steady for long periods of time. This allows the mind to calm—the first step towards meditation. The asana applies pressure to the lower spine which may facilitate relaxation. The breath can slow down, muscular tension decrease and blood pressure subside. The coccygeal and sacral nerves are toned as the normally large blood flow to the legs is redirected to the abdominal region, which may help to improve digestion.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Budilovsky, Joan; Adamson, Eve (2000). The complete idiot's guide to yoga (2 ed.). Penguin. p. 204. ISBN 978-0-02-863970-3. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Hua, Hsuan (2004). The Chan handbook: talks about meditation. Buddhist Text Translation Society. p. 34. ISBN 0-88139-951-5. Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  3. ^ Patrul Rinpoche. Words of My Perfect Teacher: A Complete Translation of a Classic Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, rev. ed., trans. Padmakara Translation Group, Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 1998, 440.
  4. ^ track 1 of "Opening the Eye of New Awareness"
  5. ^ A yoga series to prepare for Padmasana Growing up a Lotus, Nanabozho (Gichi Wabush) Mis à jour le 5 novembre 2006, after Donna Farhi Schuster, March 1987.
  6. ^ Satyanda, Swami (November 2002) (in English) (paperback). Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha (12th edition). Bihar School of Yoga.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]