This is one of the best meditative asanas. The sitting position itself is conducive to physical and mental calmness. At first it is quite difficult for most people to perform, and uncomfortable if held for more than a few minutes. However, with practice this asana will prove far more comfortable than the simpler sitting positions, such as veerasana and sukhasana. It holds the trunk of the body and the head as though they are a pillar, with the legs as its firm foundation. This asana almost automatically makes one want to be still. It is with good reason that Buddha is usually depicted in this pose.
Place a blanket on the floor. Sit with the legs stretched forwards. Slowly fold one leg and place the foot on the thigh of the opposite leg. The sole of the foot must face upwards, with the heel in contact with the front of the lower abdomen. When you feel comfortable, fold the other leg in the same way, also placing the foot on top of the opposite thigh. In the final pose, both knees should rest comfortably on the floor. Hold the back and head upright, but without strain. Close your eyes.
Position of the hands and arms
Relax the arms with the elbows bent. The hands can be placed either on the knees or clasped in the lap. Choose the position that you find most comfortable. If you place your hands on the knees you can practise a number of mudras. There are two important ones namely jnana mudra and chin mudra.
Some people find that this asana is most comfortable if the left leg is folded first; others, if the right leg is folded first. Experiment and find out for yourself which is most suitable.
Allow the shoulders to relax without raising or hunching them.
You may find this asana easier if you place a small cushion under the buttocks before assuming the final pose. Before sitting in padmasana we advise all people to loosen up their legs by practising the half butterfly and knee rotation exercises. Do not force your legs into padmasana if they lack the necessary flexibility. Practise ardha padmasana instead.
People suffering from sciatica or sacral infections should not attempt this asana.
Padmasana induces mental calmness, which is the essential prerequisite for pranayama and meditative practices. This tranquillity also helps to bring about physical health and mental equilibrium on a permanent basis. The steadiness of the body induces steadiness of the mind. The position and pressure of the feet against the thighs reduces the flow of blood to the legs. This blood supply is redirected towards the abdominal and pelvic organs, thereby toning up the organs, muscles and nerves in this region.