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The Beauty of the Lotus


By Liz Rosenblum - 7/11/2013

Yoga lotus pose
  Photo Credit: Deklofenak / Shutterstock.com

The lotus posture may be one of the most well-known postures in all of yoga - or at least one of the most commonly associated postures.

It is a seated posture that resembles sitting cross-legged, but in lotus, instead of the feet settling under the knees, the feet rest near the hips, usually with the feet flexed at least slightly. Ideally the heels will put light pressure on the abdomen in this position.

In Sanskrit lotus is called padmasana.

The posture itself has numerous benefits ranging from calming the mind to stimulating the bladder and abdomen and it's a great way to stretch tight ankles. Lotus is not recommend for people with knee or ankle injuries, and it can be especially challenging for practitioners with tight hips and therefore should be eased into and not attempted without doing a few preparatory positions such as bound angle pose (Baddha Konasana), or what is often referred to as butterfly or cobbler's pose done by bending the knees out and bringing the feet together. Another preparatory pose is Janu Sirsasana, done by bending one leg at a time, bringing the heel towards the groin and then folding forward over the straight leg. While it's easy to direct the focus of this posture on stretching the back of the straight leg, the attention should also be directed at opening the hip of the bent leg by keeping the outer part of the hip grounded.

But, what is it about this posture that makes it so iconic in yoga?

Perhaps it's because of its connection as a position advanced practitioners use to meditate, or perhaps it's the way it helps with proper breathing.

Or maybe it's because the posture itself is so challenging and can be seen as the pinnacle of becoming a yogi and being able to the body into pretzel-like poses.

The posture also shares its name with the also-iconic image of the lotus flower.

The lotus flower, India's national flower, has a fascinating story. It grows in the dark, under the mud and muck in streams before it rises above the surface to bloom. The mud simply falls off the leaves it to expose the flower's beauty. At night, the miraculous flower closes up to retreat into the mud again, only to resurface in all its glory the next day.

The lotus flower is symbolic of being grounded while also aspiring to lift towards the heavens, the way one does in many yoga postures, elongating the body to simultaneously ground to the earth and lift towards the sky.

The posture of lotus represents the lotus flower with the bent knees representing the petals, the root chakra is grounded like the roots of the flower, and the crown of the head reaches up - just as the flower grows to express its beauty.

And, just as the mud and muck easily fall off the petals, essentially representing non-attachment, a yogi in the lotus position is able to be singularly focus internally, free from judgment - essentially, the ultimate goal of yoga.


 








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