However, we may often find ourselves unable to hold the pose for a long time or even come into this asana. This is because our hips and our legs need to be stretched out properly before we attempt the padmasana. Let us look at how we can come into the lotus pose and hold it for a longer period:
How To Practice Half-Butterfly Pose
- Sit comfortably on your mat with your back straight and your legs stretched out.
- Inhale and bend your right leg and place the right foot on your left thigh.
- Exhale and place your right hand on the bent knee. Hold the toes of your right leg with your left hand. This is the starting position.
- As you breathe in, move your right knee upwards towards the chest. Gently push the knee down and touch the floor as you exhale.
- Practice this movement 10 times, increase if you are comfortable.
- Repeat the process with your other leg by placing the left foot on your right thigh.
- Straighten your leg completely after you have practiced the asana and take a deep breath before moving on to the next pose.
- Keep your back straight. Remember that only your leg should move when practicing this pose, not your upper body.
- The leg muscles should be passive, and movement is achieved only through the exertion of the arm.
Synchronize the movement with your breath. This will help you achieve greater benefits from the pose.
This pose should not be practiced by those with severe sciatic problems or knee injuries.
2. Butterfly Pose
The Butterfly pose is practiced by beginners as well as intermediate and advanced practitioners to achieve increased flexibility. It is a great pose to warm up with and is usually preceded by the half-butterfly pose.
Basics Of Butterfly Pose:
Targets: hip and pelvic areas, upper legs.
Sanskrit Name: Poorna Titli/Titali Asana
Benefits Of Butterfly Pose:
This prepares you for the lotus pose and relieves tension in the inner thighs. This is highly beneficial for those who have been walking or standing for long periods of time.
How To Practice Butterfly Pose:
- Sit in the base position.
- Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. Inhale.
- Bring your heels as close to the perinium as possible. Exhale.
- Clasp your feet with both hands and without using any force, move your knees up towards your chest and then down towards the ground. Breathe in as you raise your knees and out as you move them downwards.
- Practice 30 movements. Increase in duration if you are comfortable.
Remember to keep your back straight and not move your torso.
Place your hands on your knees and gently push them so they touch the ground and then spring back up again. Use your hands by do not use excessive force for the movement.
Those with sciatica and sacral conditions should not practice this pose.
3. Half Lotus Pose
The half-lotus has the same effect on the body as the lotus pose, with reduced benefits. This can be practiced by those who are unable to come into padmasana with ease.
Basics Of Half-Lotus:
Targets: Since pressure is applied to the lower part of the spine, it relaxes the nervous system.
Sanskrit Name: Ardha Padmasana
How To Practice Half-Lotus Pose:
- Sit with your legs stretched out.
- Bend one leg and place the sole of the foot on the inside of the opposite thigh.
- Bend the other leg and place it on top of the opposite thigh.
- Place hands on thighs and adopt any mudra such as chin or jnana.
- Hold the pose for as long as possible, practice deep breaths.
- Release the pose gently as you exhale.
Your foot should be placed as close to your abdomen as possible so there is no pressure on your knee or ankle.
Keep your back, neck and head straight. Close your eyes and relax.
Do not practice this if you sciatic or knee problems.
4. Baby Cradle Pose
This is a seated hip-opener that can be practiced preparing the body for padmasana using the non-dominant leg.
Basics Of Baby Cradle Pose:
Targets: hamstrings and calf muscles of the legs.
Sanskrit Name: Hindolasana
Benefits of baby Cradle Pose:
Enables better flexibility of the hips and allows one to hold the padmasana for longer periods of time.
How To Practice Baby Cradle Pose:
- Sit cross-legged on the ground.
- Inhale and lift you right leg from the knee to foot using your arms.
- Exhale and bring it as close to the chest as possible.
- Using your arms, rock the leg back and forth gently. Resume normal breathing and practise up to 20 times or more if comfortable.
- Release your right leg as you exhale and repeat the asana with your left leg.
- Stretch your legs out once you finish.
Do not hold your leg at the knee. This can cause injury.
You can place a yoga block or pillow under the knee on the ground to alleviate tension, if any.
Those with knee or ankle injury, sciatica etc should avoid this pose.
5. Hidden Lotus Pose
For those who are able to come into the lotus pose, this is an intermediate variation with added benefits. It can be practised after you have come into padmasana following the above poses and can be followed by savasana (corpse pose) to complete your flow.
Basics Of Hidden Lotus Pose:
Sanskrit Name: Gupta Padmasana
Benefits Of Hidden Lotus Pose:
This corrects postural defects of the spine and can be used as a relaxation pose during a padmasana series.
How To Practice Hidden Lotus Pose?
- Come into padmasana, inhale and exhale.
- Place your palms on the ground in front of your knees. Exhale.
- Inhale and lift your body, raise your buttocks, and stand on your knees.
- Exhale and gently lower your body to the ground in prone position so you can lie on your stomach. Rest your chin on the ground.
- Place your palms together behind the back and adopt namaskar/namaskara.
- Hold position for as long as comfortable, resume normal breathing.
- Exhale and release your arms, place them beside your shoulders.
- Inhale and lift your body and come back to Step 3.
- Exhale and come back into the seated lotus pose.
- Gently release the legs and straighten your legs.
- Repeat with padmasana using non-dominant leg.
The chin must rest on the ground and not the forehead.
If you are unable to bring your hands to the back and adopt the namaskar, you can place your palms on the floor beside the body, facing upwards.
Do not practice this if you have spine or cervical injuries. Avoid this if you have knee, shoulder, or back pain.
If you are able to practise the lotus pose with ease, then you can try intermediate variations such as the Baddha Padmasana, Padmasarvagasna, or even the Garbhasasana.
One of the common mistakes that practitioners make is that they focus on only one leg as their dominant one. A yogi should be able to hold their pose no matter which leg is on top. For example, f you feel like you are more comfortable practicing the lotus with your right leg on top, then you should practice this flow while paying special attention to your left leg. The same is applicable for the opposite.
Remember that like any other pose, the lotus flow too, should be followed by a counter-pose. Practice the paschimottanasana, janu sirsasana or a chaturanga dandasana as a follow-up to this.