Padmasana (padma=lotus asana=pose) allows the body to be held completely for long periods of time. It holds the trunk and head like a pillar with the legs as the firm foundation. Applies pressure to the lower spine , which has a relaxing effect on the nervous system. Also stimulates the digestive process and has a centering effect on consciousness. As the body is steadied the mind becomes calm. Padmasana directs the flow of prana from mooladhara chakra in the perineum to sahasrara (crown) chakra in the head.

However this asana should not be attempted until flexibility of the knees has been developed trough practice. Those who suffer from sciatica or weak or injured knees should not perform it. It should also be avoided during pregnancy as the circulation in the legs is reduced.

Instructions:

Sit on the ground by spreading the legs forward. Then slowly and carefully place the right foot on the left thigh. The sole should face upward and the heel should be close to the pubic bone. When this feels comfortable, bend the other leg and place the foot on top of the opposite side. Ideally both knees should /or tend to touch the ground. Head and spine upright, shoulders relaxed. Place the hands on the knees. You can perform chin or jnana mudra. Relax the arms with the elbows slightly bent to make sure shoulders are not raised or hunched. Close the eyes and relax the whole body. If you cannot place both feet on the thighs, just keep one foot on one thigh at a time and change sides after some time. This is half lotus or Ardha-Padmasana. You can also sit at ease in virasana. Place the right foot on the left thigh and the left foot underneath the right thigh. Gauranga used to sit on this asana for his meditation. This is a comfortable asana. Virasana means hero posture.

If you feel comfortable in padmasana and you can keep in with ease then go for kukkutasana (kukkuta=rooster asana=pose). Starting in padmasana, the hands are squeezed between the thighs and calf muscles until they reach the floor. Palms are touching the floor, with the fingers spread wide and pointing forward. Putting pressure on the hands, the body is lifted above the floor, its entire weight supported by the palms alone. The pose is held for as long as is comfortable.

In Ashtanga primary series kukkutasana, comes after garbha pindasana (garbha=womb pinda=embryo asana=pose) and the one that follows padmasana is utpluthih (utplu=to rise or jump up).

From padmasana, put your hands on the floor to either side of the thighbones. The hands should be about halfway between the hips and knees.

Inhale, push firmly into the ground and lift up. Round your back deeply and look forward. The body should not be trembling. Make your breath and face as smooth and measured as possible. Hold for 25 breaths or retain the breath as long as you remain in that raised position and when you come down you can exhale. Those who cannot perform kukkutasana can do this.

It is common to see a lack of strength between the shoulder blades and ribs. Thus the torso can be seen hanging loosely off of the shoulder blades (which bear the full weight of the body) resulting in the shoulder blades pinching together and a deep depression between one scapula and the other. This can be remedied by drawing the shoulder blades around towards the sides of the ribs (protraction) and lifting the ribs up to fill the shoulder girdle. The process of strengthening may take some weeks or months, but don’t sidestep it.

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