Yoga Pose Breakdown: Lotus

Lotus (Padmasana)
It’s the pose many people associate with yoga – a calm, wise-looking yogi, meditating with crossed ankles. It seems painful and impossible to get into – and while it can be if flexibility is missing in certain areas of your body – it doesn’t have to be. With consistent stretching of the correct muscles, Lotus is within reach more than you might think!

So let’s break the pose down a little bit:

What muscles need to be stretched?

TFL Outer hipsTensor Fascia Latae:
This muscle connects to your IT band and the top/front of your pelvis. It helps internally rotate the femur at the hip – when tight, it limits external rotation.

Gluteus Medius:
Internally rotates the femur bone in the hip socket – when tight, it limits external rotation.

 

 

adductor muscles


Adductor Muscles:

Since these muscles cross the hip joint + connect to your femur bone, the flexibility of these muscles are necessary for lotus. Tightness can prevent your knees from reaching the floor and creating deeper external rotation in the hip.

 

 

 

 

hamstringsHamstrings:
The hamstrings don’t contribute to the rotation of the hip, but they do affect the tilt of the pelvis. If your hamstrings are tight, you are more likely to have a posterior tilt (pelvis tucked under), as your hamstrings attach to the bottom of your pelvis. This affects posture while in lotus (or any sitting position) – having a slight anterior tilt releases tension in the lower back and improves posture.

 

While stretching the above muscles will help create more space in externally rotating your hip, the hip must be doing the rotation (it is a ball and socket joint!). More rotation in the hip (versus treating your hip socket, pelvis, and surrounding muscles as 1 unit) = less tension/stress on your knee joint.

So what poses can be done to prepare for Lotus?

Low squat (Malasana)
Externally rotates the femur bone, opens up the hip joint, stretches adductor muscles. Use a block to sit on if you are unable to sit your hips low comfortably.

Malasana  Modified Malasana

Butterfly (Baddha Konasana)
Externally rotates the femur bone, opens up the hip joint, stretches adductor muscles
*Do not put a lot of pressure on knees to get them closer to the ground. Instead, perform a PNF stretch, which will bypass your stretch reflex & help release the adductors. Push hands & knees against each other, at 20% effort for 8 seconds. Relax for one breath, then gently press your knees down a little further than before.  **Only perform PNF stretching 1-2 times every few days on a single muscle group.

Baddha Konasana

Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Stretches the outer hips/glutes. Add a twist to stretch adductors & external rotators. Place a block under your glute for modification.

Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose Modification

Reclined Figure 4
Modification for pigeon pose – stretches the outer hips/glutes & inner thigh muscles.

Figure 4

Figure 4 Yoga

Figure 4 Yoga

Forward Fold
Stretches hamstrings, lower back. Place a block between legs & rest head on block as a modification.

Forward Fold Yoga

Forward Fold Modification

Seated Cat’s cradle stretch
Stretches tensor fascia latae & glute medius – make sure to pull knee into chest before externally rotating your leg (creates more space in your hip joint) to cradle it + also flex your foot. Gently rock leg from side to side.

Revolved Triangle
Stretches the hamstrings and the muscles attached to the IT band – Tensor Fascia Latae & Glutes. Use a block under the bottom hand for an extra lift.

Paravrtta Trikonasana

Revolved Triangle Modification

Hero’s Pose (Virasana)
Opens up the hip joint (internal rotation), stretches quads & hip flexors. Place a block between legs as a modification. For a more intense stretch, lean back on elbows or lay on back. **I was able to do this around 6-8 months post-knee surgery, so patience is key with this pose 🙂

Heros Pose

Heros Pose Yoga

Heros Pose

Heros Pose Modification

Once you’ve done a few of the above stretches, you can now try to enter lotus. **If you don’t feel comfortable attempting lotus just yet, do the stretches above 2-4 times a week (or more if you are looking to increase your flexibility faster!), holding for 30-60 seconds.

Begin in a seated position, both legs straight in front of you. Hug your right (or left) knee to your chest, and allow the knee to fall out to the side, relaxing the muscles around your hip in order for the external rotation to happen. If your knee is not close to the ground, stay here, and repeat the above step with the other leg, staying in butterfly pose.

***Also, if you feel any tension in your knee, that is a signal to STOP. When the external rotation of your hip stops (a ball and socket joint), the rotation is then transferred to your knee (a hinge joint, NOT a joint that can move freely like the hip!). This puts pressure on your cartilage and meniscus, which can cause serious injury to your knee(s).

If you feel no pressure on your knees, begin to move your (flexed) foot up and across your thigh so that it rests on the inner crease of your hip. If you feel pressure at your knee at any point during the movement of your foot, do not continue with the stretch.

If you are able to get into half lotus, repeat with the other leg. Sometimes, we are more open on one side of our bodies, so switching the order of the left/right leg on top might help you get into this pose easier on the other side.

And that’s it! By understanding the muscles involved with getting into lotus pose, you now have an awareness of what to work towards. Give yourself a few weeks or 1-2 months of consistent stretching, and you’ll begin to notice an opening of your outer hips & inner thighs, making lotus a little more accessible.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Weekend Recap: 5K PR + New Youtube Channel!

Hello to all of my beautiful followers!

I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday weekend and are recovering from binge eating pumpkin pie and turkey! This past week has for sure been super eventful for me – visiting friends & family, running, shopping and spending WAY too much money, and of course, being lazy. A lot of exciting things have been going on + are coming up in the pipeline, and I wanted to share it with all of you!

First off: I ran my fastest 5k since my knee surgery!  I remember 1 year ago, I ran my first race post-surgery – a 4-miler – with an 8:40 pace (I think I was so embarrassed of my time that I never blogged about it). I know that time is nothing to be ashamed about, but compared to my sub-8 minute pace pre-surgery, I was pretty upset with it. Anyways – fast-forward 1 year later, and I ran a 7:38 pace 5K!

The funny thing is, I barely run anymore – probably about half the amount that I used to do. Instead, I go to hot yoga 1-2 times a week, run 1-2 times every 1-2 weeks, practice handstands/yoga at my apt, and maybe do a circuit workout every 1-2 weeks. I am realizing that the more hot yoga I do, the better my cardio seems to get. Definitely better than spending hours running! Longer distances, however… a little more running may be required for the endurance aspect of training 😉

Anyways – my next goal is to beat my official pre-surgery PR – 7:22 pace. However, it will have to wait, because running in the cold is my least favorite thing in the world to do!

turkey trot kent 2015

2 PRs on Thanksgiving!

I ran the race with one of my good friends from high school – she set her own PR as well! After a night of drinking with friends, I would say this was a nice way to start the holiday!

thanksgiving 2015

catching up with high school friends!

Next up: Shopping! No woman ever passes a good sale up – 5 scarves, 3 pairs of shoes, clothes, an ipad, and a gopro… My bank account was basically sending me hate mail by the end of the weekend! However, I am most excited about my go pro… After all the adventuring I have been up to this past year, I thought it was necessary to have a cool camera to capture everything. Also – Youtube.

Yep! A few friends of mine suggested that I start a yoga youtube channel, posting quick 15-20 minute videos, handstand tips, etc. I never, EVER considered doing this, because I absolutely hate seeing myself on camera. Totally dumb, right? However, I do need to take my own advice sometimes ALL the time…. so, I must go do things that scare me the most, no matter how hard or uncomfortable it might seem at the moment. I mean, if I can become a certified yoga teacher even though I am terrified of public speaking, travel to a bunch of new countries by myself for the first time, AND go bungee jumping even though I am petrified by heights… I think I can create a video and post it to the internet (even though millions of people can view it)!

So with all of that being said, I created my first-ever yoga video – a short clip on how to do a Sun Salutation A – to test the waters a bit. Feeling a bit awkward, not saying everything I think I need to say, and saying UM a lot – I posted my first video here. Check it out and let me know what you think! I am definitely my own worst critic, but we all gotta start somewhere I guess! I will be creating more videos when I can find some free time – so if there is anything in particular you would like to see, let me know! It’s a little weird to record myself for long periods of time, but I am having a little fun with it! Also – any tips on how to use, good editing apps/software is appreciated! I feel like such a newb and have no idea what I am doing half the time!

yoga for beginners

A few last things:

I have an upcoming handstand workshop in December! Teaching at Melt Hot Fitness in Westerville, the class is $30 and limited to the first 20 people who sign up. I will post more details soon!

Traveling to NYC in a few weeks to take a yoga workshop + visit friends + explore the city. Any place I absolutely need to see while I am there?

Traveling to San Francisco in January for the Yoga Journal Event! A weekend full of yoga, plus taking a few extra days to visit friends.. and maybe take some surfing lessons! More to come on this 🙂

Thanks for staying and reading my long recap! So many exciting things going on, and I love that I can share with all of you!

love you all!

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