Working Towards Lotus: From the Ground Up

Yoga Sutra III.13-15: These are called “transformations” because that creates a change in the very condition of the quality of things, whether external elements or internal powers. All these things follow upon a single thing they possess: the fact that neither their stopping nor their starting can ever be pointed to.  The cause for their other stages follows too from the transformation.

The root of things is often a mystery.  What, for example, is the source of inspiration?  it is the thought just preceding the brainstorm, or a simple and momentarily overlooked observation that may have occurred weeks before?  In the Yoga Sutra, Pantanjali suggests that transformation has no beginning and no end, which, in a strange way, is comforting.  The impetus and inspiration for transformation is constantly available and is never ending.  Very cool.

So where did my desire to achieve Padmasana come from?  Well, according to Pantanjali, it’s always been there, just bubbling under the surface.  It came from my desire to improve my meditation practice, which came from a yogic spiritual awakening, which came originally from just using yoga to become more flexible, which came from years of running, which came from…  It could go on and on with no clear beginning.  And where does it end?  Achieving Padmasana will inevitably lead to another transformation, the setting of new goals, and so on.  

While the impetus for reaching full Lotus may come from a desire for spiritual growth and can thus easily draw from Pantanjali, every physical practice needs a starting point.  For me, it makes sense that the foundation of my practice be the foundation of my body: my feet.  Foot and ankle tightness has been a huge limiter for me with yoga in general and with Padmasana in particular.  My feet are long and strong, but years of running have fixed their function, and they’re going to need extra attention if they are to become pliable and compliant.  

Amazingly,  each foot contains 26 bones (which add up to a quarter of all the bones in the body), 33 muscles, 31 joints, and over 100 ligament (  They have multiple arches, can move in myriad directions, contain more sweat glands than anywhere else in the body, and are associated with balancing the first chakra (again, compliments of  In short, the feet are pretty dang important, and it’s high time I pay more attention to there.  Therefore, this week, as I began inching towards Padmasana, I focused heavily on my feet with the following poses:

  • Virasana (Hero Pose)
  • Baddha Konasana (Cobbler Pose)
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
  • Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
  • Balasana (Child’s Pose)
  • The various Warrior Poses

The result?  My left foot is responding well, but I’ve been able to achieve Half Lotus with my left leg on top for several years now, so this isn’t necessarily surprising.  My right foot, however, is rebellious.  It behaves (kinda) in Hero Pose, but the moment I move into Half Lotus, it cries out, “Um…no!”  Perhaps this is an ankle issue more than strictly a foot issue.  

Now I’m reaching out to you, the brilliant and supportive yoga blogging community: What poses do you suggest for fickle feet?

3 thoughts on “Working Towards Lotus: From the Ground Up

  1. I noticed my challenge with Lotus was mostly with my internally rotated right hip (the left hip is all about externally rotated Lotus, of course…). I had to spend lots of time in Pigeon, Agnistambhasana (Fire Log Pose), and Gomukhasana. That, combined with the ankle and foot-opening really seemed to help. Cheers!

  2. I’m so with you here. I spend as much time as I can stand in Pigeon, Fire Log, and Cow Face (my high school yoga students always giggle at that name), but they are big time challenges for me. Some days are better than others, of course. The more I explore, the more anatomical challenges I find on my way to Lotus. Thanks for the advice!

  3. Pingback: Working Towards Lotus: A Mini-Revelation | Confessions from the Mat

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