Lotus is one of the two most commonly used yogic meditation postures (the other being Siddhasana). The Buddha is often depicted sitting in it, and it has been used by Yogis for thousands of years. It is not a beginner’s posture however, and it takes time and patience to be able to maintain it for long periods of meditation or pranayama practice.
Sit on the floor and bend the right knee. Swinging the right knee out to the side, bring the calf and thigh together and making sure to maintain this contact, bring the knee back in toward the center line. Place the right foot on top of the left thigh with the foot as close in to the hip crease as you can and the heel of the foot near the center line of the body. Bend the left leg and place the left leg on top of the right with the left heel near the center line on the other side. Once the feet are placed, rotate the thighs inward. The soles of the feet should be facing up as much as possible and the shins should be facing relatively down. Press the thighs into the floor and lift the sternum. The backs of the hands can rest on the knees with the thumb and index finger together in Jnana Mudra, or you can place the palms in the lap one on top of the other and the thumbs touching.
The hips and the thighs need to be very open to be comfortable in Lotus. Until this happens, Padmasana can be quite painful on the knees. A great way to open the thighs for Padmasana is to sit in Virasana for a chunk of time every day. Also, since Padmasana is an asymmetrical pose, I would recommend spending an equal amount of time with each leg on top, though it is argued sometimes (by the venerable K Pattabhi Jois among others) that the right leg should always be placed first as this helps to purify the spleen and liver. I switch it up.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you or see you at one of my classes!