How to Do Lotus Pose (Padmasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Lotus Pose - Padmasana
Ann Pizer

Also Known As: Lotus Position

Targets: Knee, ankle

Level: Advanced

While Lotus Pose (Padmasana) is one of the most recognizable yoga poses, it is an advanced pose that isn't appropriate for the majority of beginners. In part, this is because most Westerners have gotten out of the habit of squatting and sitting on the floor and therefore have limited hip mobility. The good news is that your hip mobility may improve over time with consistent practice, making Lotus possible.

Benefits

Lotus Pose opens your hips and stretches your knees and ankles. Traditionally, it is said to relieve menstrual pain and be good for sciatica. It is a calming pose that can be used for meditation once you have mastered it.

Step-by-Step Instructions

You may want to position a blanket under your sit bones to prepare for Lotus.

  1. From Staff Pose, bend your right knee and use your hands to bring the right ankle to the left hip crease with the sole of the right foot facing upwards. Settle the foot in the hip crease. 
  2. Bend your left knee and use your hands to cross the left ankle over to the right hip crease with the sole of the left foot facing upwards.
  3. Sit up tall with a long spine and your shoulders moving away from your ears.
  4. Relax your knees toward the floor.
  5. After 10 to 20 breaths, release the legs and repeat the posture with your left foot on the bottom and your right foot on top.

Common Mistakes

Not Having Enough Hip Flexibility

In order to get into full Lotus, the legs have to have the range of motion to externally rotate out from the pelvis. Forcing the legs into position will actually not have the effect of opening the hips but will instead transfer the strain down the leg to the knee joint, which is more likely to give. As you can imagine, this is not a great scenario for the knees. Raising the seat by sitting up on a blanket helps position the hips but it's not going to create the necessary mobility if it's not there. Instead, you will need to work your way up to full Lotus by doing Half Lotus and other hip-openers.

It's Not Necessary for Meditation

Despite the prevailing idea that Lotus is the preferred pose for meditation, that practice really doesn't depend at all on the position in which you sit as long as it is comfortable. Alternatives include Half Lotus, Hero Pose, or Easy Pose. You can even meditate while sitting in a chair if that's the position that produces ease in the body.

Modifications and Variations

Need a Modification?

First become comfortable with Half Lotus. You can also prepare with Cobbler's Pose, Hero Pose, and Head-to-Knee Pose. Continue to practice regularly and your hips will open more over time. 

Up for a Challenge?

  • Practice bringing your legs into Lotus without using your hands. 
  • Once you are in Lotus, plant your palms on the floor on either side of the hips and lift your butt and crossed legs off the floor to come into Scale Pose (Tolasana).
  • If you can come into Lotus legs without your hands, you can practice the pose in Shoulderstand or Headstand.

Safety and Precautions

You should avoid this pose if you have any injuries to your knees or ankles. Be sure that you have properly warmed up before sitting in Lotus Pose. Be sure that the rotation needed to bring your feet on top of your thighs is coming from your hips and not your knees. If you feel any pain or that your knee is being twisted, gently back out of the pose.

Try It Out

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

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