About Full Lotus Posture

Get a leg up on meditation with this common pose

Full lotus posture is a traditional meditative pose that originated in the Hindu yoga tradition. Performed with crossed legs, upturned soles and gently clasped hands, the position is named for the shape of an open lotus flower. Statues of Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, often show him seated in this contemplative position.

Purposes of the full lotus yoga posture

Many Buddhist monks can comfortably sit in the full lotus posture four hours on end, but you don’t have to be capable of such endurance to benefit from the full lotus. According to the Zen Mountain Monastery, a prominent Zen retreat and training center located in upstate New York, full lotus is among the most stable meditation postures, because your weight is symmetrically balanced. The full lotus posture helps keep your spine straight, which in turn allows for maximum freedom and depth of breath.

Leg position in the full lotus posture

  • Start by sitting on the ground.
  • Bend your left knee, resting your left foot on your upper right thigh.
  • Now cross your right leg over your left, bringing your right foot over your left calf so that your right foot rests on your upper left thigh.
  • Your legs should be crossed at the ankles, both of your feet should be placed on your thighs, and your soles should be angled toward the ceiling.

If you find that your knees and ankles resist this pose, don’t go any further. Try using a different meditation posture instead, such as the Burmese position, half lotus position, Seiza position or chair position.

Head position in the full lotus posture

Lower your chin slightly so that your gaze rests two to three feet out on the floor in front of you. Cast your eyes downward, with your eyelids partially lowered to reduce the need for frequent blinking. Keep your lips closed, with your tongue touching the roof of your mouth lightly.

Hand position in the full lotus posture

If you’re right-handed, cup your left hand in your right so that your knuckles, but not your palms, overlap. Rest the back of your right hand on the upward facing soles of your feet. Bring your thumbs together, forming an oval shape. (This hand position is known as the “cosmic mudra.”) If you’re left-handed, reverse the position so that your right hand is on top.

Practicing meditation in full lotus

Breathe deeply through your nose, with your muscles relaxed and your spine straight. Depending on the type of meditation you are practicing, you may wish to count your breaths or practice three-part breathing (dirga pranayama), in which you sequentially fill your belly, then your rib cage, then your chest.

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