Half Lotus Pose
Half Lotus Pose is a seated posture that opens the hips and stretches the knees and ankles. It is a variation of the traditional seated meditation posture, Lotus Pose (Padmasana), that is more suitable for students with less flexibility in the lower body.
Full lotus pose is so strongly identified with yoga that a lot of people think that it’s the only option for sitting cross-legged or for meditation. Not so! Full lotus requires really open hips so that there’s no strain on your knees. Getting there can be a long process, but there are several places to stop along the way as your body opens and responds to a consistent practice. The first cross-legged position to attempt is very basic: Easy Pose (Sukasana). When you become very comfortable in this position, you can start working on half lotus, as described below. It’s best to practice this pose as the end of a yoga session when you are warmed up.
The Sanskrit name for this pose, "Ardha Padmasana", comes from three words: "Ardha" — meaning "half", "Padma" — meaning "lotus" and "Asana" — meaning "pose". While this variation is usually easier than the full version of the pose, it is not recommended for absolute beginners, as the depth of flexibility required may be too demanding. Be sure to incorporate plenty of hip-opening poses into your regular practice before trying Half Lotus. A few good ones to include are Bound Angle/Cobbler’s Pose (Baddha Konasana), Hero Pose (Virasana), and Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana).
Benefits of Half Lotus Pose
Half Lotus strengthens the back. It also stretches the hips, knees, ankles, and thighs. Sitting upright with your spine aligned calms the mind, reducing stress, anxiety, and mild depression. Additionally, this pose improves circulation and blood flow in the pelvis, which can ease menstrual discomfort for women.
As with other seated poses, such as Easy Pose (Sukhasana) and Perfect Pose (Siddhasana), Half Lotus is traditionally used for long periods of meditation and breathing exercises (called "pranayama" in Sanskrit). 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 brings you peace, even outside of your yoga class.
Avoid practicing this pose if you have a recent or chronic injury to the knees, ankles, or hips. If your hips, knees, or ankles are very tight or painful, it might be difficult to cross your legs. Never force the pose. Instead, practice a modified version until your flexibility increases. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
How to Do Half Lotus Pose (Ardha Padmasana)
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended, spine straight, and arms resting at your sides. This is seated Staff Pose (Dandasana).
- Bend your right knee and hug your knee to your chest. Then, bring your right ankle to the crease of your left hip so the sole of your right foot faces the sky. The top of your foot should rest on your hip crease.
- Bend your left knee, and cross your left ankle beneath your right knee.
- There are several hand variations you can take: Rest your hands on your thighs with your palms facing up or down.
- Place your palms together in prayer position (Anjali Mudra) at your heart center.
- Gyan Mudra, create a circle with each index finger and thumb.
- Any other mudra appropriate for your meditation.
Release the pose, and then rest in Corpse Pose (Savasana) for at least five minutes.
Half Lotus Pose for Beginners
Since this pose is often used for long periods of seated meditation, it’s important to feel comfortable in Half Lotus Pose. Be sure to make whatever modifications you need to feel steady and supported in the pose.
- If your knees are sticking up when you are cross legged, sit on a blanket or two to raise the hips above the knees.
- For more back support, sit with your back against a wall. For even more support for your upper back, place a yoga block between the wall and your shoulder blades.
- If you are not yet able to perform Half Lotus, practice Easy Pose (Sukhasana) until you have gained the flexibility and strength to sit comfortably in the pose.
Be sure to change the cross of your legs, not favoring one side or the other. Hold the pose for the same length of time on each side. Practice until you have built up enough strength to move for more advanced poses.
Half Lotus Pose for Advanced
Practicing Half Lotus Pose in correct alignment will automatically begin to soothe your thoughts and calm your body. When your hips begin to feel more open, move on to Full Lotus Pose.
The Pose is Half Full
Many students feel they "should" be able to get into full Lotus Pose, but it’s crucial to remember never 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! Take it slowly and be patient. Practice Half Lotus regularly, even if it’s only for a minute a day. Flexibility will come in time with patience, dedication, and repetition. Remember to enjoy the benefits of whatever variation of the pose you can do today!