Bending over and touching your toes is a half forward bend in yoga speak, but for those who do not practice yoga, it's simply a toe touch. It's a way to stretch your legs and back and increase your range of motion and strengthen critical muscles. Whether you consider yourself a yogi or not, there are many poses that are totally doable and can greatly benefit your wellness journey. The Lotus Pose is one of many such poses. Even though lotus is associated with yoga, it’s a position that we all can benefit from. You will likely notice a difference in the way you feel almost as soon as you settle into it. Let’s explore this a little further, and I bet you’re going to want to give it a go.
The pose or asana that deserves attention today is lotus pose. If you're not sure what that is, it's the criss cross applesauce with the soles of the feet facing upwards. You've probably seen someone meditating in this position with their wrists resting on their knees. Modern living doesn't really make this pose easy for many of us to get into. We have tighter hips and less leg flexibility than our ancestors who did far less chair sitting than us. But do not despair! You can do this. Just be sure to give yourself a nice stretching before attempting. And even if you can't slide right into lotus, you can always build up to it.
- Start out by sitting with your legs outstretched in front of you (staff pose).
- Bend one knee and use your hands to put that foot into the hip crease of the opposite leg.
- Repeat step two on the other leg.
- Lift the crown of your head, elongate the spine and roll your shoulders away from your ears.
- Take ten to twenty breaths.
- Repeat, with the other foot resting on top.
- If you need to put a blanket under your behind to raise your hips above your knees that is perfectly fine.
Switching the position of the foot on top allows you to balance out your pose and work both the left and right side muscles equally. And you’ll be able to strengthen your weaker side. It is important that you don’t force yourself into the pose. Doing so can do more harm than good, like putting the strain on your knees, which are a weaker joint than the hip and more likely to give in to the pressure.
Half Lotus Pose
One way to build up to lotus is to practice sitting like a butterfly. Simply sit on the floor with your feet together and as close to your pelvis as comfortable. This will increase your flexibility in your legs and hips and pelvis. Another way to prepare is to practice doing a Half Lotus Pose. You can do half lotus seated on the floor just as you would a full lotus pose.
- Start out by sitting cross legged on the floor.
- Bring one foot as high as possible onto the other leg. The idea is to get that foot resting in the hip crease of the opposite leg.
- Lift your head and roll your shoulders back to elongate your spine.
- Take five to ten breaths here.
- Begin again with the opposite foot.
- If you need to put a blanket under your behind to raise your hips above your knees or your knee, that is perfectly fine.
Practicing half lotus will allow you to identify your weaker side and work on strengthening it so that when you are ready to progress to lotus, it will be more comfortable. You'll even reap some of the benefits of lotus pose in half lotus. You'll be opening your hips while stretching your leg and ankle muscles and the muscles around your pelvis.
Lotus Pose Benefits
Consistent practice of lotus pose can really turn things around. This pose is good for you in a holistic sort of way. It can positively affect the mind, the body, the emotions and the spirit. And its calming nature makes it perfect for meditation. There are a lot of reasons to give lotus pose a go, even if you can’t get into it at first. These benefits are too good to pass up on.
- Give your knees and ankles a stretch.
- Open your hips and pelvis.
- Reduce menstrual pain.
- Reduce sciatica pain.
- Reduce stress and calm the mind.
- Encourage deeper and more full breaths.
- Improved posture.
- Align and stimulate organs and body systems.
Now is as good a time as any to try lotus pose if you haven’t already. If you like the way you feel, and you probably will, please make it a part of your daily routine. You will be so glad that you did.