My sthira sukha asana: Padmasana

I have not found a better way to start my mornings, than performing my Pranayamas and meditation in Padmasana. The asana helps me calm down and draw my mind inwards so that I can focus, contemplate and meditate. When I do Padmasana along with the ‘chin’ mudra (thumb and index fingers joined in a circular shape, remaining fingers pointed outwards), I feel a flow of energy through my body. As I do the asana, I visualise myself emerging unscathed from the negatives in this world, like a lotus from the muddy water. I imagine a lotus deep within my heart, and as the lotus blooms, my heart opens up and is ready to shine, accept, give, and love.
The formal training in yoga teaching has helped me realise why Padmasana is special for me – it is attuned to my intrinsic nature – deeply contemplating, focused and steadfast.
Prior to the practise…
For those who wish to practise Padmasana, I would recommend a few hip opening exercises prior to the pose. Incorporate warms ups such as hip rotation (standing as well as supine), hip flexing, hip extensions and butterfly flaps. Thereafter, I recommend the following sequence of asanas leading up to Padmasana: 1) Badha konasana, 2) Virasana, 3) Raja Kapotasana and 4) Malasana. Here are a few variations to further strengthen the pelvic and hip regions: 1) Do a ‘supine’ Badha Konasana, with the triangle perpendicular the floor and the upper body on the floor. Unfold the right knee and abduct the hip 45* from centre. Do this 10-15 times, followed by the left leg, and then both legs together. 2) Do a half Malasana, with the right leg outstretched on the side and right foot on the floor. Push yourself with your hands above the ground and shift your hips sideways to the right to get to the left-leg half-Malasana. Do this round 5-10 times. Now try raising yourself without the support of your hand, contracting the abs and pelvic muscles.
These exercises will help open up and impart flexibility to the hip and pelvic regions, which is a precursor to Padmasana.
Technique to get into the asana…
Sitting in Dandasana, bend the right knee and open it to the side. Open up the hips, and lower the right thigh to floor. Leaning forward slightly, hold your right shin and place the right foot on the left thigh, with the heel pressing against the groin. Ensure that the rotation is from the hips, not the knees. For this, rotate the leg in front of the torso, swivelling from the hip. Now lean back slightly as you place the left foot on the right thigh, heel pressing the right groin. Keep the hips open and thighs pressed to the floor, and make sure that the sitz bones are on the floor. Straighten the spine and lift your chest, keep your hands on the knees in chin mudra. Unfold your legs and repeat the left side.
For a beginner, a half-Padmasana would be a good start. For those whose hips are very tight, Pranayamas can be performed in Vajrasana or Virasana.
Benefits of the asana…
Padmasana stretches the hips, thighs, knees, calves and ankles. It strengthens the hip and pelvic bones and makes the hips joints flexible. It strengthens the abdominals. It promotes blood flow to pelvic and genital regions. It tones the colon. Ligaments and tendons of the lower extremities are extended and flexed. Stimulates digestion, helps rectify digestive disorders. The spiritual benefits of this Asana are immense, as it helps calm and centre the mind and makes it fit for Dharana (concentration) and meditation. I would not recommend this Asana for those with a knee injury.
From Padmasana, move on to…
Parvatasana: Press your hands together in Namaste mudra and raise the joined hands up to the ceiling, palms pressing firmly against each other and biceps as close behind the ear as possible. This stretches the upper back and pectoral muscles, while strengthening the shoulder muscles.
Baddha Padmasana: Keeping right hand diagonal to the floor, outwardly rotate the right shoulder blade. Contract the shoulder and upper back, lift up the chest and reach the hand behind your waist towards the left toes. Repeat with left hand. Bend forward with the hips, gazing forward and try to touch the forehead to the floor.
Besides these, Padmasana is an ideal base for Pranayamas like Ujjayi, Nadi Shodhana, Kapalbhati and Bhastrika.
I would strongly recommend Yoga practitioners to adopt this Asana, and, like me, experience its myriad physical, therapeutic and spiritual benefits.
200hr YTTC

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