A Garland of Lotuses

Padmasana is an asana that is performed in the finishing sequence of Astanga Vinyasa. Pada means lotus, a symbol of faultless beauty prosperity and fertility. The asana is named after lotus because it is representational of the shape of the flower when the feet are placed on the opposite thighs.

Baddha Padmasana is the first lotus pose that is performed. In this asana, the hands are clasped behind the back and the body is bent forwards at the torso. This represents a flower that is waiting to bloom. Next, the flower opens up into Padmasana. With the torso upright and the external rotation of the hips, long breaths of air are circulated through the lungs saturating it and giving energy to the whole body. From Padmasana, the palms are placed firmly on the ground and the legs and hips are lifted off the ground. This pose is called Utpluthih. It is a representation of a lotus flower floating free from the surface of the pond.

The lotus pose has many physical benefits such as the ligaments and tendons of the hips and legs are extended and flexed hence making the thighs and calves stronger and hamstrings more flexible, circulates a rich blood supply to the pelvic and abdominal-genital regions, helps with heart lung and digestive disorders and it firms the sacral and coccygeal spine and the sciatic nerve. Even though there are many benefits to this pose, it can cause more harm if people with knee, ankle and groin injuries and people with tight hips and inner thigh muscles were to practice it hence, this asana should not be practiced.

All three of these asanas require the breath and bandhas, two of the vital internal energies that exist in our core. Padmasana is practiced when meditating and doing pranayama, which helps to calm the mind and turn it inwards. Furthermore, to be able to stay in the asana for a long period of time, a powerful ujjayi pranayama must be applied. This practice stimulates a trio of cleansing, purifying and opening the nervous system. This act of refining the senses is essential in order to gain awareness of our soul.

I like padmasana for many reasons that are not restricted to the performance of the asana itself but also the philosophy behind it. It appears in the 700 verse Hindu scripture, Bhagavad Gita, it is represented in the highest chakra attainable, Sahasrara Chakara, in the Buddhist scriptures and in the visuals of Self God. In all these scriptures, the lotus is a symbol of purity and god. Hence, in yoga, it is the asana that one performs to obtain the highest level of consciousness.

Aditi Timbadia