Why Is Doing Lotus Pose Upside Down Easier?

March 26, 2015

Transcript of: Why is it easier to do lotus pose upside down?

In this article, I answer Gary’s question about lotus pose and why many students find it easier to access the pose upside down.

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The Question:

“I currently have left medial knee pain when attempting full lotus pose, so for now I only take things as far as half lotus pose. [DK says:  Smart]. When I lay on my back with knees bent, I am able to bring my right foot to half lotus then slowly bring my left foot into full lotus. I feel no pain in supine full lotus but only a slightly tighter left knee.

From this position I am able to move myself with elbows and hands into a full—into a sitting full lotus position again—with only [a] slight feeling of tightness in medial left knee. I only ever attempt this after a basic practice of standing sequence and subsequent floor hamstring stretches. I originally thought that my knee pain was related to a problem directly in my knee but now I think it maybe [has] something to do with an imbalance in my hips. I’d be interested to have your thoughts.”

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The Answer:

Well as it turns out Gary, I talk a lot about the knees in this book called Functional Anatomy of Yoga. And I almost always relate knee issues—especially the type that you’re talking about—back to the hips. And there’s a great lotus-prep video specifically for lotus pose on the website.  Put lotus prep in the search bar on the website.  You’ll definitely find that video. It’s on the YouTube channel as well.

Supine lotus pose

I’ll say something however about you doing this while lying supine. Interesting, it almost always helps people get into lotus pose. And my sense of why is there is less tension around the hips to keep you sitting upright, number one. Number two: Folding into the hip joint more—that is flexion because you’re bringing your knees in—is helpful. And in addition to that, you have more mobility to bring your knee towards your chest, whereas, if you’re sitting on the floor it’s harder to lift your knee up and put it in, and then without putting that one down.

In other words, you can shift around more and your knees can basically move towards your chest more than they could if you were in a sitting position. And it’s one of the things that I often do with people feeling knee pain in let’s say, standing half lotus pose. I almost always have them draw their knee up, even though long-term the knee is supposed to be pointing down. When there are knee issues going on, bringing the knee towards the chest reduces the amount of pressure coming out of the hip and going into the knee joint. And I also suspect that that’s what is going on in your case.

Applying supine lotus to upright lotus

Nothing wrong with doing it that way. Take advantage of that openness and go ahead and bring yourself to an upright position. But you’re smart in the sense that you’re—you’ve done your investigation. You’ve explored your anatomy. Good stuff. I really like that. Taking it a step further would mean that you really directly work on those hip muscles, so that you don’t have to lay on your back anymore, and so that it reduces the pressure in that left knee.

I hope that answer helped. If you want to send a question in once again, yoganatomy.com/myquestion. See you next time.