The lotus posture (padmàsana) is the name traditionally given to a way of sitting in many Indian spiritual practices, particularly in meditation and yoga. The practitioner sits placing each foot on the thigh of the opposite leg. Thus the legs are interlocked and symmetrical aligned. The hands can be placed in the lap or on the knees. Although this posture imparts a degree of postural stability many people take time to get used to it and often report that it becomes uncomfortable when maintained for extended periods. Indian tradition ascribes a great deal of benefits to the lotus posture; that it harmonized `energy', that it massages the nerves thus enhancing relaxation, etc, even that it is essential for meditational progress.
In traditional Buddhist art the Buddha is often depicted sitting in the lotus posture although the word padmàsana occurs nowhere in the Tipiñaka. The Buddha says nothing about posture in sitting meditation other than that one should sit `with the body straight' (ujuü kàyaü) and the legs pallankaü àbhujitvà (M.I,56). This term could mean legs crossed (i.e. lotus posture) or simply folded. In this second posture the legs are folded and placed against the other rather than being interlocked. Many people report that this posture is more comfortable and less likely to cause cramps and painful stiffness. Although the placement of the body may have some influence on the mind it is probably only slight. Ultimately, the more physically comfortable one is the easier one's meditation will be. Meditation is, or should be, a simple and natural process. Requiring numerous technical necessities and details only robs it of these qualities. See Body.