Hip-opening sequence, and getting into lotus pose - Saturn in Sagittarius
This series of poses is for working with Saturn in Sagittarius. Since Saturn rules the bones and joints and Sagittarius rules the hips and thighs. Lotus, being the preferred seat for meditation, also supports Sagittarius' desire for spiritual learning and ascension as well as Saturn's desire for mastery and discipline. (The following sequence is taken from www.reneesills.com)
Lotus pose, or Padmasana, is the classic seated meditation posture depicted in many statues or drawings of the Buddha and in many, many photographs of yogis all over the world. The name of the pose references the lotus flower, which is a metaphor for the potential of our consciousness to sit atop, or rise from the muck below the surface and open into a beautiful blossom. The 7th Chakra, or crown chakra is called the 1000-petaled Lotus and invokes the brilliance that's inherent when we are aligned from the root upwards. To rise above "the muck" isn't so much a transcending, or moving beyond as it is an acknowledgment of the work, dedication and discipline it takes to transform and integrate the many facets of our personalities, including our base desires and instincts. The Lotus needs the muck at the bottom of the pond for nourishment and the organic matter it is formed from, just as much as it needs the sunlight and clarity that it can grow towards and open to.
In Light on Yoga Mr. Iyengar says
"After the initial knee pains have been overcome, Padmasana is one of the most relaxing poses. The body being in a sitting posture, it is at rest without being sloppy. The position of the crossed legs and the erect back keeps the mind attentive and alert. Hence it is one of the asanas recommended for practicing pranayama (breath control).
On a purely physical level, the pose is good for curing stiffness in the knees and ankles. Since the blood is made to circulate in the lumbar region and the abdomen, the spine and the abdominal organs are toned."
Since Lotus pose is quite challenging for most people who are accustomed to sitting in chairs and automobiles, and especially for those whose physical activities contribute even more to tight hips (such as running or cycling)- here is a hip opening series that moves towards Lotus incrementally. At the end of the sequence you will also find an alternative entry into the pose that many people will find much more accessible than trying to enter the pose already seated on the floor.
The first portion of the practice should be done daily for those who are working towards full lotus. In general, hip openers help to relieve achy backs, and pelvic and lower abdominal tension. If you are a person who is very mobile in the hips than you may consider balancing your hip opening practice with hip strengthening practices such as these.
1.) Reclined bound-angle pose (Supta Baddhakonasana) In this variation of the pose lie flat on your back and hold either your shins, ankles, or little-toe sides of your feet to keep the soles of your feet together as your knees rest out to the sides. Your weight should be centered on your sacrum, not on your lower back, so there is a very slight backbend of the lumbar spine. Hold 1-2 minutes and then return to both feet flat on the floor.
2.) Figure -4 With both feet flat find a balance point at the center of your sacrum (between left, right, top and bottom) and then, keeping that point of balance lift your right leg and place the little toe-side of your right foot against the front of your left thigh. You might stay here if the stretch is enough, or (again maintaining the balance at the center of your sacrum) lift your legs towards your body and interlace your hands at the back of your left thigh. 1-2 minutes each side. Return to both feet flat at the end.
3.) Front hip stretch (this is sort of a reclining version of Vatayanasana) Bring your right heel to the back of your left sitz bone and hold your right toes with your left hand. Then release your right knee forwards onto the floor. (note that in the pictures the one on the left is me demonstrating by stretching the right side first, and the picture to the right is showing the left side) You can make the pose more intense by allowing the opposite knee to fall out to the side, or by bringing it in towards your chest.
Preparation for Lotus Pose, Padmasana
2.) Use your hand to assist you to lift your bottom foot and place it in front of the top hip. Get your heel as close to your navel as possible. This might be enough for some people. Don't ever force your flexibility and if you feel any discomfort in your knees it's best not to go further from here. If that's you then skip 2B and proceed to step 3.
2B.) Continue to inch your other foot around, and again you can use your hand to help you bring the upper foot around and place it in front of the bottom hip, again drawing your foot as close to your body as possible.
3.) From here roll onto your back and hug your legs closer to your body. If you are proceeding from the one-leg variation now you can hold the back/bottom foot as well. Or if you are proceeding from the two-leg variation you can hold the outside of your knees. This is a reclined version of lotus or half-lotus.
- Ankle injury
- Knee injury
- Relaxing effect on the nervous system
- Decreased muscular tension
- Reduces blood pressure
- Coccygeal and sacral nerves are toned
- Stimulates digestive process
- Measured stability and steadiness
- Mental and physical peace
Thanks to my teacher Todd Jackson for this hip-opening sequence and his creative approach to postures!