“[The lotus] grows up through the water and raises its face to the shining sun; it is in the mud, but not of it… The lotus symbolizes purity, development, and transcendence; the fully blossomed lotus represents our fully unfolded innate Buddha-nature.” – Lama Surya Das, Awakening the Buddha Within
Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana, Half Bound Lotus Forward Bend, registers as 9* on the 60* scale of difficulty. Although Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana is a basic standing posture in the Ashtanga tradition, it is far from basic. Mastery of the pose requires deep opening in your standing leg’s hamstring, hip opening in your lotus leg, and keen awareness of what’s comfortable for both of your knees.
In a pose like Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana, it is imperative to be in the mud, but not of it – to embrace the inherent difficulty of the pose without forcing your body into painful extremes. Forcing the pose will only exercise your ego and lead you to injury.
If placing your right foot onto your left standing hip point strains your knee or feels inaccessible, either cradle your right ankle in your hands to begin the process of opening up your right hip, or flex your right foot and place your right ankle on your right thigh. If taking the bind with your right hand forces you to slump in your right shoulder, place your right hand on your right hip and hold your right foot with your left hand instead. If folding forward causes you to bend your standing leg, stay standing tall. If attempting the pose puts your ego in the driver’s seat, take a deep breath and re-center your intention for your practice.
“Achieving freedom from craving and being in the world, yet not quite of it, is up to us; achieving liberation, lasting happiness, and freedom is up to us… When there is nothing wanting, there is nothing working against anything. There is no grasping at anything; there is no grasper and nothing being grasped… There is just the unimpeded, spontaneous, free experiencing of things just as they are, moment after miraculous moment. This is the natural great perfection.”