Padmasana is the first Asana to be named in the 8th century PatanjaliYogasutras. The name is derived from the Sanskrit (Padma) means Lotus and Asana or seat. As the analogy goes, just as the Lotus is rooted in the mud at the bottom of the pond and it rises to shine as a beautiful flower in the sunlight above water; similarly the Padmasana brings enlightenment in the practitioner’s mind. The Asana is also an Adharasana, (Adhar means support) which means we can do many other Pranayams, Mudras and Kriyas sitting in this Asana.
It is a cross-legged sitting Asana in which each foot is placed on the opposite thigh. If you are a beginner, you can start with half lotus pose. Advanced variations of certain other Asanas also have the legs in Lotus or Half Lotus. God Shiva, Siddhartha Gautama the founder of Buddhism and the Tirthankaras in Jainism have been depicted in the Lotus position.
Getting into the Asana: Sit down on the mat with legs straight up. With the help of your hands, slowly hold one foot and place it on top of the opposite thigh with its sole facing upward and heel close to the abdomen. The other foot is then lifted up slowly and placed on the opposite thigh in a symmetrical
The knees are in contact with the ground. The torso is placed in balance and alignment such that the spinal column supports it with minimal muscular effort. The torso is centered above the hips. To relax the head and neck, the jaw is allowed to fall towards the neck and the back of the neck to lengthen. The shoulders move backward and the ribcage lifts. The arms are relaxed with the elbows slightly bent.
The eyes may be closed, the body relaxed, with the awareness of the overall Asana. Adjustments are made until balance and alignment are experienced. Alignment that creates relaxation is indicative of a suitable position for the Asana. This Asana should be natural and comfortable, without any sharp pains.
One sits on the forward edge of the cushion or mat in order to incline one’s pelvis forward, making it possible to center the spine and provide the necessary support.
There are many who may not be able to achieve this pose immediately. So, initially we should try to achieve flexibility for the thighs and hips. With the help of both your hands, lift the foot and place it on your thighs and then keep pressing the knee and thigh down. Initially, practise only Ardha Padmasana for a few weeks. Only the most flexible people can achieve this Asana without support under their pelvis.
The pose requires “very open hips”. If you have a back problem and cannot sit erect, then sit against a wall. Lotus is one of the yoga poses that most commonly causes knee injury. Attempts to force the legs into lotus pose can injure the knees squeezing and damaging the meidial meniscus cartilage; this is painful and takes a long time to heal. The hip joints must rotate outwards to permit full lotus. If you already have a knee problem, then it is better to avoid this Asana and jsut sit in Sukhasana or simple cross legged position.