About Half Lotus Pose

An easy yoga pose that’s good for meditation

Half lotus pose is a seated yoga pose often used to practice meditation. Like other yoga poses, the half lotus originated long ago in India, and is associated with the Hindu yoga tradition. A variation on the full lotus pose, the half lotus posture requires a bit less flexibility in the ankles and knees.

The half lotus pose

The yoga tradition includes dozens of asanas, or poses. Some of these — such as the warrior asanas, which require energized legs and arms — are quite challenging and active, while others — such a shavasana, in which you lie still on your back — are calm and relaxing. In a yoga session where a sequence of poses flows together, the half lotus may be incorporated as a resting pose, with the purpose of bringing your breath under control and your mind back to center.

Leg position in half lotus pose

  • To perform the half lotus pose, start by sitting on the floor with a straight back.
  • Bend your right leg, bringing your right foot near your left thigh.
  • Cross your left leg over your right, resting your left foot on top of your right thigh, with the sole angled upward.
  • In the half lotus posture, your left foot rests high on the right thigh while the right foot is tucked underneath the left calf.

According to New York’s Zen Mountain Monastery, a Zen meditation training center, retreat and monastery, the somewhat asymmetrical form of the half lotus pose may require you to make small adjustments in your upper body in order to keep your spine straight.

Head position in half lotus pose

Tuck your chin slightly. Keep your lips closed, with your tongue lightly touching the roof of your mouth. Lower your eyes and rest your gaze a few feet in front of you. Soften the muscles in your body.

Hand placement in half lotus posture

Hold your left hand lightly in your right with both of your palms facing upward. (If you’re left-handed, your left hand should hold your right.) Touch your thumbs so that your hands form an oval. This hand position is called the “cosmic mudra.” You can lightly rest the back of your hand on the sole of your left foot.

Meditating in half lotus

Half lotus is one of a group of meditation postures that includes full lotus, the Burmese position, the Seiza position and the chair position. As the Zen Mountain Monastery website notes, in Zen practice one of these positions is not “better” than the others — what matters is that you are able to keep the focus on your mind. As you meditate, keep your back straight in order to allow free movement of your diaphragm. Breathe deeply.

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