Sanskrit: Ardha Padmasana
Photos of Maggie Anderson taken by Maggie Anderson
Half Lotus is seated yoga pose wonderful for meditation. Half Lotus opens up the hips, strengthens the back and stretches the knees, ankles, hips and thighs. This pose improves circulation and blood flow in the pelvis, which can ease menstrual discomfort for women. Sitting upright with your spine aligned calms the mind, reducing stress, anxiety and mild depression.
This is a great pose to do instead of or leading up to a full Lotus position. The more we practice this pose the easier it will be as our body reaches a deeper level of flexibility. This is not a true beginner pose either. It’s, perhaps, stage two, where Easy Seated Pose is stage one and full Lotus is an advanced stage three.
Half lotus, Easy Seated pose and full lotus are three common poses that are utilized for deep meditation and pranayama (yogic breathing techniques). Click the links to learn more on breathing techniques and meditation. The soothing effects of this pose can allow for greater awareness of your mind, body, and spirit – which can spill over into your everyday life. You may discover that practicing this pose and meditation, as well as breathing techniques bring you peace, even outside of your yoga class.
Listen to your body. Honor where you body is today and take it in steps. Remember sweet discomfort in yoga, no pain. Never push your body beyond its edge. If you have any pain, back off and ease into it in your time. Many students feel they “should” be able to get into full Lotus Pose, but it’s important not to attempt a pose you’re not ready for. Practicing Half Lotus provides all of the benefits of Lotus Pose with the added benefit of not injuring a body that’s not ready for full Lotus! Allow yourself to be where you are today and practice the art of patience, enjoying the journey as much as the attained goal. Practice Half Lotus regularly, even if it’s only for a minute a day. With patience, dedication and repetition, flexibility will come. It’s as much about getting there as it is about being there.
Directions on how to come into the pose:
Begin in Easy Seated Pose. Maintaining a straight spine, bring your left foot and knee up towards your chest at first (to assist the leg in the stretch and opening) and then place the left foot down towards your right inner thigh crevice/the hip crease there. This may be challenging on your first few attempts, so modify and place the foot further away or even placed on the mat in front of the right foot. Keeping your right foot under left knee. Listening to your body is key here. Close your eyes and take your gaze inward. Hold for several deep breaths to one minute, working your way up the more you practice.
Only go as far as your body allows you to go. And remember, sweet discomfort in yoga, no pain. Never force this or any pose. Instead, practice a modified version like staying in Easy Seated Pose or take one foot in front of the other until your flexibility increases.
Mudra hands are a wonderful part of your meditation practice in this pose. You may try Namaste hands, palms together at your heart as shown to the left (Anjali Mudra), or as simple as resting your hands on your thighs with your palms facing up or down. Another beautiful mudra is Gyan Mudra, by creating a circle with each index finger and thumb holding comfortably over your knees.
A great pose to do before this pose is Cradle-the-baby pose. This is a great hip opening and a beautiful stretch for the leg allowing for more ease into half lotus.
To come out, release the leg. Go to the other side, holding for the same amount of time. Then extend both legs straight out shaking out any tension created from this pose. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.
When not to do this pose or to modify/ Contraindications:
If you have a recent or chronic injury to the knees, ankles, or hips, avoid practicing this pose. If you are very tight or find these areas painful, it might be difficult to cross your legs. If the knee of your top leg doesn’t rest comfortably on the floor you may choose to place a firm blanket under that knee. If you are still unable to get into this pose and have very tight hips, a great modification to practice is sitting in a chair first. Have one foot flat on the floor, cross the opposite ankle into the hip crease of the grounded foot. Hold the pose for up to one minute, and then repeat on the opposite side.
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