How to Execute the Half Lotus in Yoga


Whether or not your knees and ankles cooperate with your goal of centering yourself in the classic full lotus mediation pose, the position is a challenging one. Achieving a full lotus is admirable; forcing less flexible knee and ankle joints into submission is not. The point of yoga is not to cause painful injury or to engage in a high stakes competition with yourself to surpass some arbitrary personal best. Half lotus pose is sufficiently grounding and challenging enough to provide a stable meditation seat. As an added benefit, practicing half lotus could lead to safe mastery of the full lotus pose.

Things You'll Need

  • Yoga mat (optional)
  • Meditation cushion, wedge or zafu
  • Zabuton (optional)
  • Sit on your meditation cushion with your legs extended, back straight and sitting bones near the front edge of the cushion, so your pelvis is tilted slightly forward. Bend your right knee and hug it to your chest.

  • Bring your right foot as close as possible to the top of your inner left thigh. Open your right hip outward as you grasp your right calf near the ankle and lift your right foot to place it on your left thigh.

  • Open your left hip, moving your left knee toward the ground as you slide your left foot in toward your torso and tuck it under your right leg.

  • Adjust your posture so your torso is straight. Half lotus is a slightly asymmetrical pose that requires minor compensation so your body is upright for meditation. Rest your left hand, palm up, inside your right hand, thumbs lightly touching.

  • Keep gently pressing your hip bones towards the floor with your shoulders down and back and your chest forward to sit taller in the pose. Relax your jaw, face and belly as you breathe slowly and deeply in half lotus pose.

Tips & Warnings

  • Alternate sides every time you sit in half lotus to create equal stretch and flexibility in both hips.
  • Sitting on the edge of a firm zafu cushion, placed on a larger padded zabuton mat, makes it easier to relax both knees down so they rest on the lower mat. Experiment to find the placement that is kindest to your knees and ankles.
  • Put folded towels under your knees for support in meditation if your hips are not flexible enough to allow your knees to rest on the floor or padded mat.
  • Half lotus is a good position for practicing breathing techniques.

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