How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Postby Thrasymachus » Wed Mar 14, 2012 5:19 am

One of the reasons why I meditate so little is because it is physically uncomfortable for me. I have very bad hip - hamstring flexibility and it hampers me alot in other areas of life as well.

Does anyone know any practice or method that could improve my flexibility enough to get into lotus position comfortably?
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Re: How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Postby Thrasymachus » Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:23 am

It is not a minor hindrance it is a huge one it makes me feel bad or like I fail before I even start. It also creates problems when I try to mountain bike, run, weight lift, etc. I am 29 and it will only get worse and worse, I will lose even more flexibility, feel more future discomfort if I don't start trying to change it. Often I can noticeably feel my psoas muscle fatigued and tight. This is a deep underlying problem for me even outside of trying to find a comfortable and more authentic posture to meditate.

This Tulku gives the following analogy handed down to by him by his lineage of teachers of how beneficial it is to have a good posture when meditating:
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche wrote:The "rider" is the mind, and the "horse" is the body. While a calm rider can soothe a restive horse, a steady horse can also calm a restive rider.

When we first begin to meditate, the mind is like a restive rider: sometimes agitated, jumping around between thoughts, emotions and sensations. ... We need to tame the horse before we can begin to ride.

Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom p. 133.


I don't think it is something you should just work around forever, that is what I have been doing already and the results are poor in meditation and elsewhere.
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Re: How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Postby Anders » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:30 am

Thrasymachus wrote:One of the reasons why I meditate so little is because it is physically uncomfortable for me. I have very bad hip - hamstring flexibility and it hampers me alot in other areas of life as well.

Does anyone know any practice or method that could improve my flexibility enough to get into lotus position comfortably?


how to grow a lotus.

That and daily squats, asian-style (feet flat on the ground, ass to grass).
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Postby Konchog1 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:41 am

In practicing Padmasana, remember that the body and the asana must meet on their own terms in their own time. If you inflict the asana on the body, you may set up a dichotomous relationship between what you think the body "should" be and what the body is. The body then becomes an enemy to be conquered rather than a companion on the journey. By giving up your preconceived idea and images of how far you think you should go, you free yourself to explore the asana in the present moment, just as a lover might give full attention to his beloved. Practicing with true affection, let the pose become a journey rather than a destination. Then even a difficult posture like Padmasana will become enjoyable.
:namaste:

Another good stretch: http://youtu.be/i7WdH2M0w1Q
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Postby Mr. G » Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:17 pm

Off topic posts removed.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:41 pm

Thrasymachus wrote:One of the reasons why I meditate so little is because it is physically uncomfortable for me. I have very bad hip - hamstring flexibility and it hampers me alot in other areas of life as well.

Does anyone know any practice or method that could improve my flexibility enough to get into lotus position comfortably?

You don't need to adopt that position to meditate. Most important is having the back straight. You can even use a chair if needed. If you can control sleep, you can lie on your back too (but it's harder not to become sleepy, so be sure you can do it).
Try small sessions. 5 minutes. Then stop. Then more 5 minutes. It's much better to start like this and work our way up.
Still it's excellent for you if you stretch your muscles and spine. That's good for your overall health.

Good luck!
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Re: How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Postby maybay » Wed Mar 14, 2012 5:56 pm

My friend had to have surgery on his knees because he tried too hard with the lotus position.

I start with that. But if you really want a good posture you can spend more time simply cross-legged on carpets. Eat your meals and read your books on the floor. There's no better way to get through a book in my opinion. Chairs and car seats are bad news for hamstrings, but they're not really important for lotus. Its your hips you need to work on.
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Re: How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Postby Anders » Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:07 pm

maybay wrote:My friend had to have surgery on his knees because he tried too hard with the lotus position.


Rgeally showcases why it shouldn't be forced. I have damaged my right knee because I spent years in the half lotus flexing at the knee when I should have been stretching my hip.

Ironically, though I can no longer sit in half lotus with my right foot up without feeling it in my knee for a day afterwards, I can sit full lotus without any such niggles.The weight and lock of both feet helps ensures the flex is at the hips, whereas in the half lotus, which is more loose, I can't stop my hyper-extended right knee from compensating. It took some training, stretching and opening up the hips though. And there is still a lot of hip flexibility ahead of me yet. I recently found out that full deep squat can be done with erect spine without curving the lower back. :o I've got a new stretching regimen to get there.

I think a nice rule of thumb is that if you can't go into the lotus and relax all muscles without the posture falling apart, you're not limber enough yet. Having a relaxed posture also goes a long way towards stretching in the right places when you do sit.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:28 pm

Anders Honore wrote:I think a nice rule of thumb is that if you can't go into the lotus and relax all muscles without the posture falling apart, you're not limber enough yet. Having a relaxed posture also goes a long way towards stretching in the right places when you do sit.

This^
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Re: How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Postby dakini_boi » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:31 pm

Find a good yoga teacher. Someone who understands the subtleties of alignment. In general, yoga teachers trained in Anusara and/or Iyengar have this kind of understanding. Where do you live?
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Re: How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Postby Luke » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:26 pm

Can you sit in other meditation positions comfortably (Burmese posture, quarter lotus, half lotus, etc.)? If so, there's no need to do the full lotus posture. Although if you're committed to doing it, practicing Ashtanga yoga for many years will probably do the trick! After I did the Ashtanga primary series (very badly) at a yoga workshop, I felt more flexible than I'd ever been! But doing the primary series takes about an hour and a half, so it's quite a time commitment, but if you do it regularly, your body has no choice, but to get more flexible!
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Re: How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Postby Yessu » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:56 am

There is a simple stretch that I like to do. Sit down with one leg out straight and the other bent like you would bend it to sit in the lotus position. With your hand on your knee, gently press the bent leg downward and let it come back up, repeating until you can gradually press your knee to the ground. Switch legs and do it again until you can fold both legs into the lotus position.

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Re: How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Postby Anders » Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:17 am

Yessu wrote:There is a simple stretch that I like to do. Sit down with one leg out straight and the other bent like you would bend it to sit in the lotus position. With your hand on your knee, gently press the bent leg downward and let it come back up, repeating until you can gradually press your knee to the ground. Switch legs and do it again until you can fold both legs into the lotus position.

Image


I wouldn't recommend this, to be honest. You are compensating a lot with the knee doing this, especially when you are putting your hand on the knee. Pressing on the thigh close to the hip would be better, but overall I don't think it's very good.

The best way for stretching the hips to get into the lotus often don't look anything at all like the lotus position.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: How to become flexible enough for lotus position?

Postby Blue Garuda » Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:21 am

I favour using a cord attached to each knee and pulling downwards until there is a lound cracking noise which confirms the readiness of the hips for full lotus. If further flexibility is needed, a similar technique can produce lateral separation of the pelvis, simultaneously opening the chakras.
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