How to Do Half Lotus (Ardha Padmasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Verywell / Ben Goldstein 

Targets: Hip opener

Equipment Needed: Mat

Level: Intermediate

Half Lotus (Ardha Padmasana) is a yoga pose you can use for meditation while working up to Lotus. It is a good option for sitting cross-legged since Lotus requires really open hips in order to reduce strain on your knees. Getting there can be a long process, but there are several places to stop along the way as your body opens and responds to a consistent practice. The first cross-legged position to attempt is very basic: Easy Pose (Sukasana). When you become very comfortable in this position, you can start working on Half Lotus. It's best to practice this pose at the end of a yoga session when you are warmed up.


Half Lotus stretches the muscles around the pelvis, legs, and ankles. It helps you maintain flexibility in your gluteal muscles and the deep rotator muscles of your hips. It can help stretch the piriformis, which is useful if you have symptoms of sciatica. Your piriformis can tighten from being inactive (sitting too much) or due to running and other vigorous activity. Half Lotus helps promote good posture. It is a calming pose for your mind and is restorative.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by sitting on a yoga mat in Easy Pose, with your legs crossed and feet tucked under your legs.

  1. From Easy Pose, use your hands to bring your right foot on top of your left calf with the sole of the foot facing upwards.
  2. Adjust your right foot so that it is as high as possible on your left thigh. You can use your hands to encourage your foot into position. Eventually, the idea is to settle the top of the right foot into your left hip crease.
  3. Keep your left knee bent so that the left shin rests comfortably on the floor in a cross-legged position.
  4. Lift the crown of your head toward the ceiling and roll your shoulders away from your ears to keep the spine long. Your hands can rest on your thighs with the palms turned up or down.
  5. Take at least 10 breaths here.
  6. Release and set yourself up with the right foot on the bottom and the left foot on top. One side will probably feel easier, but try to do both sides whenever you sit in the pose for more than a few breaths.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors to get the most from this pose.

Forcing the Pose

The purpose of this pose is to calm the mind for meditation. Do not progress from Easy Pose until you are able to do so without straining your knees and hips.

Holding Breath

You should be breathing in and out deeply through your nose during this pose. That will promote a meditative state.

Not Switching Legs

Spend equal amounts of time with the opposite positioning.

Modifications and Variations

This pose is of intermediate level. Unless you start out with great hip flexibility, you will need to work up to it to make it comfortable. Once you are comfortable in it, you can progress further.

Need a Modification?

If your knees are sticking up when you are cross-legged, sit on a blanket or two to raise the hips above the knees. Or, place a folded blanket under your knees.

Up for a Challenge?

When your hips begin to feel more open, move on to Lotus.

Safety and Precautions

This pose is not recommended if you have chronic or recent knee or hip injuries or inflammatory conditions of those joints. It can place strain on your knees. You may feel a stretch but you should not feel any pain. If you feel pain, come out of the pose. Easy Pose may be a better choice in these cases.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

By Ann Pizer, RYT
Ann Pizer is a writer and registered yoga instructor who teaches vinyasa/flow and prenatal yoga classes.