Anatomy – Padmasana

Almost 4 weeks and I am still unable to easily get into a comfortable Padmasana.    My knees and ankles are in “pain”, where is the problem? 

Padmasana (Lotus Pose) is the quintessential yoga pose.  It is the starting position for a variety of poses such Kukkutasana, Mathsyasana and my personal favorite: Garbha Pindasana.  More important, it is the pose used by many yoga practitioners for meditation.   However, many yoga students struggle to get into this pose and stay on it, comfortably, for an extended period of time.   Rushing into this pose often results injuries in the hip joints, the knees and the ankles.

To be able to blossom into the full lotus, flexibility of the hip flexors is key.  The tensor fascia latae and the gluteus medius are main muscles responsible for the internal rotation of the femur at the hip level.  The gluteus minimus also contributes to this movement but when the hip is flexed.  If these muscles are tight, they will limit the external rotation of femur; therefore, limiting the ability to get into the full lotus pose.   In addition, tension of these muscles would cause unnecessary and added strain to the knees and ankles while getting into the pose by the eager practitioners.

To get into the pose, it is important to release the tensor facia latae and gluteus medius properly.  In preparation for the pose it is advisable to warm up and release the muscles by using the technique called “cradle stretch”.    In cradle stretch, the lower leg is lifted and knee is placed in the crook of the elbow.  The leg is “cradled” as shown below.  This movement will stretch the hip and with practice, allow you to get deeper into the pose in a safe way.

However, if you are unable to cradle the leg, you can start by using the variation shown below.  With constant practice, you will be able to cradle the leg and eventually get into the full lotus pose.

Also, remember the position of the knees.  The knees are very unforgiving joints and injuries are very painful.    While in Padmasana, the knee should be placed as shown below:

Positioning of the Knees during Padmasana          

                                                                                                                         

Practice these cradle movements regularly and watch how you will blossom into a full Lotus!