Transcript below of: Lotus - Right leg first?
The question comes from Steve and it says: “I would really appreciate an anatomist’s view on whether padmasana really should be always taken with the right side first as is the case in the Ashtanga method.” He goes on to say, “I’ve been practicing Ashtanga for more than 15 years and take great benefit from sitting for quite long periods of time in lotus. On odd occasions I’ve changed sides and felt very prominently odd and imbalanced. Yet Guruji’s advice was always: padmasana (lotus), – right leg first, I believe because of interaction with visceral organs.”
Well, I always give two answers to the question when somebody asks me, “Should we always do the right side first?” The two answers are this: one is traditional and one is anatomical. From the traditional point of view, if you go back to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, it very clearly states that: the right foot is placed on the left thigh and the left foot is placed on the right thigh. This is what is known as padmasana. I have no doubt that that is exactly what Guruji was quoting. There is some question about it pressing on visceral organs or sometimes people talk about it aiding digestion and there are a lot of postulations. From a Western perspective, as far as I know, these haven’t been proven. If you know about that, if somebody who’s watching this knows about that, please do send me a link to the paper.
But you know these are kind of experiences. Other people talk about the energetic qualities of it being the right side. You know, having said that, a lot of times in Daoist practices you put the left foot in first. Of course, it’s going to have a different quality and a different, you know, energetic quality to it, but anyway. That is the traditional answer. The reason we do lotus with right leg first in hatha yoga is because that is exactly how it is described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Now, the second answer, is the anatomical answer, which is really what you want from me. You know, we separate these two things as if that’s really possible, but from the anatomical point of view, the more time you’re going to spend doing a posture like lotus, the more you could argue for switching it up, to avoid creating an imbalance. And as you said, you know, on the odd occasions that you do change sides it feels very odd to you. And of course, it feels odd to you because you’ve spent a long time opening up lotus in a very particular way. When you do it in the opposite way, it feels different. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It just is not as comfortable for you, so that’s the odd feeling that you’re experiencing.
So again, two answers, traditional and anatomical:
Traditional, Hatha Yoga Pradipika is telling right side, right foot, left thigh, left foot, right thigh, this is padmasana.
The anatomical one is, the longer you’re going to spend in a posture like this, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you do it both ways.
All right? I hope that helped.
Anybody else who has a question, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion
Have a great day.
Join thousands of yogis when you sign up to our monthly newsletter
Check out our Online Courses and Workshops
David explains why over-stretching connective tissue along the spine might contribute to feeling a burning sensation in the lower back after forward bending.