Take a seat in Lotus everyday

Lotus – padmasana is one of the basic sitting poses in yoga asana practice. The asana name deprives from the image of the beautiful lotus being seen from a distance. It is the best asana for meditation. This has been my all time favourite pose, back from my first encounter with yoga /meditation when I was 4 years old. It was in my thought back then that yoga meant meditation – sitting in the lotus bound leg position with eyes closing in complete stillness. The lotus flower, aside from being the symbolic flower of my home country Vietnam, is one rare plant that grows out of muddy water. The root of lotus extends through the soil of the pond or river bottom, while the stem, with its layers of fibrous channels, shoots through the murky water to rise above the water. Its leaves rest on the water and its flowers shine toward the sun. In Vietnamese culture, the flower represents purity, integrity, beauty, fertility and life. This is tied up with the Buddhist idea that the spirit of the best of men are pure and clean, just like the lotus, though rooting and growing through muddy water, still maintains its light, fresh, pleasant smell and appearance, inside out. In Hatha yoga, the symbol of lotus appears in the chakra signs, with the highest level of consciousness being the thousand-petal lotus crown chakra on the top of the head. In padmasana, one sits with both legs bended, left leg on top of the right, both feet rest on top of the opposite hips, and both soles facing upwards. Legs are bound together and knees press down to the earth. The spine is lengthened with the chest lifting and shoulder blades pressing downward and toward each other. The neck and head reach toward the sky and both hands are placed on top of respective knees in chin mudra, the gesture of life expanding and also resembling the lotus in full bloom. The asana strengthens the sacral and coccygeal spines, thighs and calves, tones the colon, stretches the hamstrings and improves blood circulation, respiration and digestion. The pose, however, requires variation for practitioners with knee, ankle, groin injury or tight inner thighs. The placement of lotus or half lotus legs is seen in many other poses such as toe stand, marichyasana, garbha pindasana, matsyasana, etc to name a few, thanks to its intense stretch. Practicing of hip opening and harmstring stretching poses will help to get into padmasana. Sitting in the lotus position is a great way to center oneself inward when practicing pranayama and meditation by activating muladhara chakra and creating the sense of belonging and calmness within oneself. So start practicing and I hope you will enjoy your 5 minutes of total lotus-ness everyday. Namaste, Kate Nguyen