Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Day 88 : LOTUS : Padmasana (lotus) from Vinyasa Krama Lotus sequence

Padmasana (lotus) can be a challenging posture and there are many places to work towards it in Vinyasa Krama.

In Asymmetric Sequence: Padmasana doesn't appear as such but there are several hip opening postures, janusirsasana leading to mahamudra in particular, that prepare you for ardha baddha padmasana (half lotus).

In Lotus sequence : The lotus sequence picks up where Asymmetric leaves off with more vinyasas in half lotus before moving on to full lotus.

In Seated sequence : Padmasana (lotus) follows the deep hip opening subroutines of upavishta konasana and badha konasana.

In Supine sequence : More half lotus variations, this time in dwipadapitam (table pose). In shoulder stand we have the half lotus vinyasas of Day 68 but also the extreme hip openers of the previous (Day 69 ) Urdhva Konasana subroutine.

In Inverted Sequnece : As with Supine and Seated the lotus vinyasas in headstand follow, konasana and badha konasana subroutine.

In all of the above sequences we can see that padmasana (lotus) follows hip opening postures, this is because padmasana (lotus) involves a rotation of the hip joint rather than a twisting of the knees.


Getting in to full Lotus

NB: THE most important thing to remember is to protect your knees, that it's the hip joints that do all the work, the knees only bend one way it's the rotation of the ball and socket hip joint that makes padmasana possible

Right leg
Bend the right knee and bring it up towards the chest. Reach with the right hand down inside the thigh and take hold of the right ankle.

Allow the right knee to drop out to the side through the rotation of the hip joint. Focus on that hip action, of the ball and socket joint, the femur head rotating in the hip socket, encourage it.

There's a tensing of the right buttock a lifting almost and a stretching of the thigh as you encourage the rotation in the hip joint that will bring the knee down towards the mat and the ankle to come up. This action should only happen at the hips joint your NOT pulling up the ankle and your NOT forcing the knee down.

If this isn't happening it might be best to work on more hip opening postures, mahamudra in Asymmetric, badha konasana in Seated.

Lift up through the torso, support the right foot with the left and right palms and guide NOT pull the foot to the left thigh.

Lift up again and bend forward slightly, roll onto the front of the sit bones and guide the right foot a little further up the left thigh into the groin.

Again lift and roll further onto the sit bones allowing the right knee to rest on the mat.

Left leg
Bend the left knee and again focusing on the hip joint allowing the left knee to drop out to the side.

Rock your body forward and draw the right knee out to the side through the thigh muscles. Lock the knee by pressing the calf muscles against the thigh.

Reach over the left foot and support the left ankle with the left palm, cupping under the foot with the right palm, encourage the hip joint to rotate further and allow the knee to drop further out and down. Again, your not pulling on the foot but rather supporting it to allow the hip joint to do it's work.

Lift up through the torso, rock further forward on the sit bones and stretch out through the left thigh to allow the foot to come up over the right leg. 

Using the strength of the thighs bring the knees a little towards each other this will bring the right foot finally up onto the right thigh closer to the groin.

Shuffle around on your sit bones if necessary, encouraging more rotation of the hip joints to tighten the lotus, this is preferable to wrenching, tugging, pulling the feet.

Ultimately, for many of the lotus vinyasas you will require a nice tight lotus where the heels are digging slightly into the belly, the soles of the feet pointing up and the knees closer together. In fact, the heels can be considered to be massaging the inner organs in some of the vinyasas by pressing deep into the belly

To release
Sit up straight lifting up through the torso, focus on the left hip joint and encourage it to rotate by engaging the thigh muscles which will press the left knee into the mat this will allow you to very gently encourage the left foot off of the right thigh.

As you allow the knees to draw apart the lotus will unfold, again allow the right hip joint to do it's work bringing the right knee down into the mat and allowing the right foot to glide off the left thigh.

Padmasana subroutine
Ramaswami recommends coming into half lotus, taking a breath or two, continuing into full lotus, staying for a three breaths and then releasing the lotus before repeating six times.

You may wish to enter and exit your lotus for each of the vinyasa in this subroutine. Over time you may feel comfortable staying for a couple of the vinyasas and eventually the whole subroutine even sequence.

Lotus postures are excellent for working on the bandhas, the perineum is grounded allowing for greater focus on mula bandha, the lotus a stable base for deep uddiyana and jalandhara bandhas ( see practice guidelines Day 1 for more on bandhas).

Bhadrasana The hand position can be low on the thigh fingers tucked under the feet (pic 5) or closer to the knee (pic 6). If the knee be careful not to press the knees down, especially if the lotus position is still new to you.

Laghu yoga mudra (pic 8) is a deep forward bend, draw the buttocks back, come onto the front of the sit bones, engage mula and uddiyana bandha, sucking in the belly in to create more space for the body to fold forwards over your lotus. The same goes for the side vinyasas of yoga mudra (pic 11 & 12), be careful not to allow the opposite knee from the side your folding in to to raise, encourage it to stay down by grounding the sit bones.

Utpluthi (Pic 9) is all about hand placement. place the hands too far forward and the weight of the hip bones will keep your grounded, too far back and the weight of the knees will stop you from achieving lift. So place the hands just forward of mid thigh as close to your thighs as possible.

Bring your shoulders over your hands, bring your shoulders down, engage the shoulder girdle and after exhaling hold the breath out and push down into the mat through your hands and lift

Mula bandha should be engaged but engage it more strongly, tuck the tailbone under, the lower half of your body should feel tight and compact, draw your pelvis up into your torso and hold.

Keep the bandhas engaged and the tailbone tucked while your breath.

In this version of utpluthi you bend the body over the lotus, in a later version in the lotus sequence the body is more erect.

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