Lotus position

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Statue of Shiva (left), Gautama Buddha (center, c. 1000 AD) and Mahavira (right) performing yogic meditation in the Lotus position

Padmasana or Lotus Position (Sanskrit: पद्मासन [pɐdmaːsɐnɐ], IAST: padmāsana)[1] is a cross-legged sitting asana originating in meditative practices of ancient India, in which each foot is placed on the opposite thigh. It is an ancient asana, predating hatha yoga, and is commonly used for meditation, in the Yoga, Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist contemplative traditions. The asana is said to resemble a lotus, to encourage breathing properly through associated meditative practice, and to foster physical stability.

Shiva, the meditating ascetic God of Hinduism, Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, and the Tirthankaras (Ford-Makers) in Jainism have been depicted in the lotus position.

Variations include half lotus, Ardha Padmasana; bound lotus, Baddha Padmasana; and psychic union pose, Yogamudrasana.

Etymology and origins[edit]

Buddha as a boy rising from a lotus flower. Crimson and gilded wood, Trần-Hồ dynasty, Vietnam, 14th-15th century

The name of the pose is from the Sanskrit पद्मासन Padmāsana, "Lotus [throne] position".[2] This is also a term for actual thrones, often decorated with lotus foliage motifs, on which figures in art sit. The Hindu (Vedic) and Jain Goddess of Prosperity, Sri Lakshmi, sits atop a lotus flower.

The pose is ancient, being one of the first asanas to be named, for example in the 8th century Patanjalayogashastravivarana.[3] A figure seated in lotus position on a lotus flower is shown on dinar coins of Chandragupta II, who reigned c. 380–c. 415 AD.[4] The Hatha Yoga Pradipika states that the pose destroys all diseases, and that a yogin in the pose who retains the air breathed in through the nadi channels attains liberation.[5]

In Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism, the lotus position is also called the "vajra position" (Skt. vajrāsana, Ch. 金剛座 jīngāngzuò).[6][7]


From sitting cross-legged on the floor in Sukhasana, 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 placed on the opposite thigh as symmetrically as possible.[2]

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 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 position without a support under their pelvis (and likewise does the Dalai Lama explicitly advise).[8]


The sage Bharadvaja sitting for meditation on a deer skin in half lotus. 19th century
Karnataka, Jaina Tirthankara Parshavanatha, ardha-padmasana

In half lotus, अर्ध पद्मासन (Ardha Padmasana), one leg is bent and resting on the floor, the other leg is bent with the foot in lotus position. It is an easier meditation position than full lotus.[9] The older Jain and Buddhist images in South India are generally in Ardha Padmasana.

In bound lotus, बद्ध पद्मासन (Baddha Padmasana), the practitioner sits in full lotus, and each hand reaches around the back to grasp the opposite foot.[10]

For psychic union pose, यओगमुद्रासन​ (Yogamudrasana), the practitioner bends forward in full lotus, bringing the forehead as close to the floor as possible.[11] The pose is both an asana and a mudra; easier variants begin from Ardha Padmasana or Sukhasana.[12]


In Jainism, a Tirthankara is represented either seated in Lotus posture or standing in the Kayotsarga posture.[13]

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.


Other meditation asanas such as Siddhasana[14] 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.[15]

The lotus position may be impossible to achieve if the knees naturally point in when the feet point straight ahead, as this is an indication that the joints on the opposite ends of the femurs and tibiae are rotated relative to each other.[16]

See also[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. ^ a b Iyengar, B. K. S. (1979). Light on Yoga. Thorsons. pp. 129–132.
  3. ^ Mallinson & Singleton 2017, p. 97.
  4. ^ Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Pal, Pratapaditya (1986). Indian Sculpture: Circa 500 B.C.-A.D. 700. University of California Press. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-520-05991-7. Reverse: Goddess, nimbate, sitting en face on lotus with legs folded in lotus position. Diadem or noose in right hand, lotus flower turned towards her in left. .. Legend: Śrī-vikramaḥ (the courageous one).
  5. ^ Mallinson & Singleton 2017, p. 111.
  6. ^ Hua, Hsuan (2004). The Chan handbook: talks about meditation (PDF). Buddhist Text Translation Society. p. 34. ISBN 0-88139-951-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 March 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  7. ^ Rinpoche, Patrul; Padmakara Translation Group (trans.) (1998). Words of My Perfect Teacher: A Complete Translation of a Classic Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism (Revised ed.). AltaMira Press. p. 440.
  8. ^ track 1 of "Opening the Eye of New Awareness"
  9. ^ Swami Satyananda Saraswati (1996). Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha (PDF). Munger, Bihar, India: Yoga Publications Trust. p. 97. ISBN 978-81-86336-14-4.
  10. ^ Sjoman, Norman E. (1999) [1996]. The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace (2nd ed.). Abhinav Publications. p. Plate 6. ISBN 81-7017-389-2.
  11. ^ Saraswati 2004, pp. 182-183.
  12. ^ Vishnudevananda (1988). The complete illustrated book of yoga. New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks. pp. plates 128-129. ISBN 978-0-517-88431-7. OCLC 32442598.
  13. ^ Zimmer, Heinrich (1953) [April 1952], Campbell, Joseph (ed.), Philosophies Of India, London, E.C. 4: Routledge & Kegan Paul, p. 209–10, ISBN 978-81-208-0739-6
  14. ^ Iyengar, B. K. S. (1979). Light on Yoga. Thorsons. pp. 116–120.
  15. ^ How to sit cross-legged, when hip joint or knees are not flexible [1], Yogi with Coffee, 1 August 2016
  16. ^ "Health Guide to Torsional Deformity". drugs.com. Retrieved 25 June 2015.


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