Lotus Foundations

Lotus Foundations

padmasana

LOTUS FOUNDATIONS

Lotus Pose requires a healthy amount of hip flexibility. For some, it comes easy. Reasons for this might be that the person is hypermobile in the hips, knees, and ankles and/or that many months or years of effort have been put towards developing the capability in their bodies.  

If we push our limits to get into Lotus before our bodies are prepared, we can cause injuries that might have been prevented had we properly warmed up for such a deep posture. Implementing a “take a step back” mentality is key in moving our potential forward in the accessibility of Lotus.

Warming up doesn’t mean going straight into stretching and lengthening as much as possible. What we’ll see Matt demonstrate today is the importance of strengthening and contracting the muscles first.

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  • Postural focus: Flying Pigeon and Lotus Pose
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STRENGTHEN THE EXTERNAL ROTATORS

Homing in on the foundations is the “step back”; it’s like pulling an elastic band as far back as we can before we let it go. The farther back we pull, the further forward it will fly.

In the video, Matt demonstrates two variations of Baddha Konasana to get us started.  

Variation I

This will activate the external rotators of the hip. Getting into the posture requires widening the knees and bringing the soles of the feet together. Pressing the feet down while lifting the hips initiates the engagement of the external rotators so that we can access maximum external rotation of the hips.

Variation II

This time, we internally rotate the legs and take the feet wider than the knees to do the lift. These actions will support the engagement of the tensor fasciae latae (TFL, an internal rotator) but will also continue to activate the external rotators.

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LOTUS FOUNDATIONS: HOW TO MAXIMIZE HIP FLEXIBILITY

TARGET THE HIP FLEXORS

Targeting the muscles of the full circumference of the hips is essential when preparing for Lotus. Matt demonstrates 2 effective drills/postures to target the hip flexors.

Scissor Legs

Scissoring the legs will help us connect with the sensation of activating the hip flexors, but it’s the pulsing of the legs that builds more heat and stimulation of the muscles.

Happy Baby Pose Without Hands

Once again, we are in deep hip flexion, but it’s about more than just drawing the legs in close. Being intentional about actively pulling the feet in, as if we were holding them with our hands, while pushing the knees out is what produces the activation of the adductor muscles.

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ISOMETRIC ENGAGEMENTS

One notable benefit of isometric exercises is that they help to recruit many muscle fibers at once.  “Most muscle strengthening exercises involve moving the joints, using the muscles to push or pull against resistance. However, isometric exercises involve holding static positions for long periods of time.”

Kandola, Aaron. 5 Isometric Exercises For People To Try. Medical News Today, June 26, 2023

This form of muscle contraction is commonplace in Matt’s classes.  In the video, he teaches us how to effectively use this type of engagement in the following postures when preparing for Lotus:

Crescent Pose Preparation

The action of drawing both feet towards one another and pressing down through the front heel will assist in activating the glutes and hamstrings of the front leg, while activating the hip flexors of the back leg.

Humble Warrior 

Pressing the sole of the back foot down and dragging it forward while pressing down through the heel of the front foot will assist in activating the back adductors and gluteus muscles.

Pigeon Pose

Pulling the two knees towards one another isometrically in the stretched position will help to activate the glute and hamstring muscles of the front leg and hip flexors and adductors of the back leg.

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AWAKEN THE OUTER HIP MUSCLES

Finally, we look at the outer hip muscles.  In a Forward Fold position, we push the back of the legs outwards.  This will ignite the gluteus medius and minimus.  We can layer on TFL activation by lifting each leg and pulling it forward to tap the back of each respective wrist.

Today’s postures may be part of a typical physical practice, but when we “dial back” and implement the actions that will strengthen and arouse the activation of the hip muscles, we can be more confident in moving towards greater flexibility and mobility to safely experiment with Lotus pose.

Matt’s upcoming workshop Hip Release will guide you towards a better understanding of how to maximize flexibility, strength, and mobility of the hips.

Register here to optimize your potential.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Lotus Immersion

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Lotus Pose Variations

Lotus Pose Variations

Is There a Safer Option?

padmasana

LOTUS POSE VARIATIONS

One of my favorite episodes of Three’s Company is when John Ritter’s character (Jack) laughs at Joyce Dewitt ( Janet) and Suzanne Somers (Chrissy) when they are doing Lotus Pose during a yoga practice. He eggs them on about how easy it is, so they dare him to give it a try. Could he use the Lotus Pose variations that Matt offers? Most definitely! It wouldn’t be as hilarious though. In the episode, Jack struggles to get into the posture, pulling at the tip of his sock to set the top leg in place. It’s even worse when he tries to get out. Janet and Chrissy leave him begging for help. Definitely a good laugh and worth a search online. In our real life practice, however, we must be more intentional in how we explore Lotus in order to discover the safest options.

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IS LOTUS POSE FOR YOU?

First, how can you answer this question? The answer may be easy, or it may be quite layered. If you have room for exploration, Matt not only offers these Lotus pose variations to try but also reminds you to examine the sensations in your hips, knees, and ankles while practicing. Lotus pose is a deep hip opener, so there is a lot involved. Besides the hips, the state of your knees is one of the biggest considerations when it comes to deciding whether the posture is for you. And as much as you may associate the posture with extensive flexibility and mobility, it also requires stability. Generating stability in your knees, for example, is quite important and may be more accessible than you think.  The magic exists in the finer details, so paying attention to your knees and ankles may ultimately provide the answer you’re looking for.

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LOTUS POSE VARIATIONS:  IS THERE A SAFER OPTION?

KNEES AND ANKLES

Now, your body can change at any time. A definitive answer for the safest option for Lotus Pose doesn’t really exist, but it’s through the exploration of these Lotus pose variations that you can always find the answer you need at any stage of your yoga practice.  

The angle of your knees is a great point of focus. The 2 variations Matt offers in today’s video are Lotus on Your Back and Lotus Seated Upright. In either variation, the angle of your knees is a factor in determining whether or not you will find the full posture. The more “closed” you are at the knee joint, the more stable your knees, which minimizes the chances of injury. Once you are in Lotus, a respectable amount of eversion of the ankles is imperative to reduce the pressure that may build from inversion—which is also required.

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  • Get certified and highly qualified to teach yoga
  • Yoga Alliance Globally Recognized Certification Program

THE HIP JOINT

This deep hip opener requires great attention to detail and a tremendous amount of preparation. Part and parcel of this preparation are patience and focus. From an anatomical point of view, you may tend to focus on the external rotators of the hip. This is not wrong, because the shape of the posture requires that they perform efficiently to open the hip. What is also vital, however, is preparing in a way that honors the integrity of the hip as a whole. If you’ve practiced with Matt before, you’ll be familiar with what he calls “the 4 quadrants of the hips.” To delve into this concept, I highly recommend the Hips & Hamstrings immersion. Loosely defined, the 4 quadrants include the adductors, abductors, hamstrings, and hip flexors & quadriceps. Activating these muscle groups helps to exhaust the muscular system until they are ready to stretch, lengthen, and open.

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LOTUS ON YOUR BACK VS. LOTUS SEATED UPRIGHT

Matt offers Lotus on Your Back as the safer option when comparing it directly to Lotus Seated Upright. In the video, Matt talks about the risk of straining the knees in the upright variation. Sometimes the use of props may minimize this risk, but again, it’s about exploring what works for you. There may be less risk on your back. In the video, Matt’s entry to Lotus on his back shows that in this variation, you have more time and room to consider the sensations in your knees, particularly the second leg. The floor under your legs is out of the equation, so you can roll to the side, and you can play with how much you press the first knee away from your body to see if it is accessible for you to place the second leg on top. This doesn’t mean that the variation is easy, but it does offer more room to play.

NAVIGATING THIS DEEP HIP OPENER

Attention to your body is paramount in this sophisticated posture. In both Lotus Pose variations, the hips are flexing and abducting while in external rotation, the knees are in flexion, and the feet are in plantar flexion. Add to this the key action of some eversion of the ankles, and the pose can be quite complicated to navigate.

Jack’s pursuit of the posture in the Three’s Company episode is hysterical, but definitely not the model to follow. Forcing ourselves into postures can only lead to unwanted outcomes like injuries. In the full class, Matt reminds us about what yoga truly is by saying, “Postures are something we can utilize in order to pursue the practice of yoga: the practice of self-inquiry and self awareness.”

Register for Matt’s March 2023 Immersion Lotus to safely navigate this beautiful and elaborate posture.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Hips & Hamstrings Immersion

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read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe, You Will Get Instant Access to

  • the Technique Pack: 15 yoga pose breakdowns
  • exclusive online course discounts
  • exclusive blogs and videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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