Padmāsana is the iconic, classical Yoga pose. But why? To begin our study, let’s dissect the name. The name comes as a compound of two Sanskrit words:

–          padma – a lotus
–          āsana – sitting, sitting down; abiding, dwelling; (roughly) pose.

Āsana, as a noun, comes from the verbal root as which translates as “to be present; to exist; to sit quietly.” Patanjali uses this word as one of his eight limbs—but more on that later. Combining multiple words into one may be done to list, enumerate, show possession, or to use one word (the antecedent) to describe another, as we see with Padma-āsana. Thus, we get the understanding that Padmāsana is the arrangement of the body as a lotus.

Why The Pose?

Patanjali, the authority on classical Yoga philosophy, describes asana as having two qualities: being steady/stable and comfortable, easy on the body. Of course, Padmāsana fits this bill perfectly! With soft muscles through feet, calves, and thighs, the knees bend easily and the feet can be molded to rest comfortably atop the thighs; with relaxed hips, knees lower to the ground, widening the base for stability and support. The pelvis provides a wide foundation for the spine to stack up and the head to sit on top.

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To achieve ease and comfort in this pose requires a delicate balance of forces. Too much strength in the front or back of the body, offsetting the opposite pull, can quickly rip us from our meditation. For example, if the abdominals greatly overpower erector spinae and latissimus dorsi, then the shoulders hump, the head falls forward, we lose the curve of the lumbar spine, and the stress and strain in any number of a few key regions can cause discomfort, distracting us from our meditation. Many adults have spent many years, decades, even lifetimes neglecting the arrangement, the seat of the body, but children have fresh, supple bodies that will hold the form they are taught. Even so, many children can still be seen slouching in chairs or with knees well above the hips when crossed legged; let them sit on blocks or blankets so that they can learn when and where they need to relax muscles to develop flexibility and engage to build strength. Thus, it is of great importance that kids learn the best way to arrange for meditation and for life.

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Every pose has its subtle aspects, the way it influences the flow of energy and attention of the mind. As previously described, the body is arranged in such a way as to allow minimal muscle effort. As a result, the muscles can relax, taking rest, and energy can be redirected toward the efforts of the mind and its pursuit of single-minded focus. Instead of effort (energy) getting trapped and wasted in the limbs or even the torso trying to uphold the body, the body is supported by its own structure, its bones, and energy can flow freely.

Why The Lotus?

The Padmaa, the Lotus, is a significant image in Indian literature as a symbol of great and rare beauty; it oftentimes appears in poetry to describe the face or even feet of the beloved; deities are described as sitting atop or being birthed in a lotus or having lotuses blossom at their footsteps. In Indian philosophy, the lotus is a metaphor for the journey of the Self back to the Self. Long before we see the flower, the lotus seed sinks deep beneath the surface waters of canals and swamps to settle into the muck and grime. It soaks up the nutrients it needs from the most disgusting and inhospitable of conditions so that the stem may rise tall and strong to flower at the surface, opening to the true beauty of the sunlight and fresh air.

The life of the yogi is perceived in the same way. Even if born into the lap of luxury, the being, consciousness, and bliss of Self Realization are hidden to us, heavily veiled behind the needs, wants, and whims of material existence. Deeply, we know there is more, that we are meant for more, so no matter how hard we try to fulfill these wants and needs, we are always left unsatisfied and wanting more. We are the seed and roots soaking up nutrients from the earth at the bottom of the water, becoming strong but still lacking that final component: the Light Of Truth. The stem begins to grow, rising and reaching, following as the light begins to grow brighter just as we eagerly pursue practice with classes, teachers, and private study. One day, with a firmly grounded practice that has been “well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness,” we may gain the full, direct perception and realization of Truth, basking in its radiant glow.

In the pose itself, the thighs and hips are our root, providing our firm, stable base so that the stem of our spine may rise tall and flower at the seat of consciousness: the crown. So, of course, when the kids ask, you can remind them to sit tall and let their lotus rise to meet the Sun!

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Kidding Around Yoga Justice Information

 Company Justice Statement

We stand with you, our Black family. At Kidding Around Yoga, we are a worldwide multicultural community committed to bringing the teaching of yoga to children and families worldwide. Our aspirations have always been to treat all humans with dignity, respect and care. We recognize that aspirations and intentions are different from impact. Our good intentions have not diminished the impact of our lack of understanding. We acknowledge the harm experienced by Black people and people of color within our organization. We have been blind to the ways in which white supremacy culture has been at play within our materials, structures and communications. We are deeply humbled and saddened to start to realize the extent to which BIPOC have been harmed, undersupported, ignored, dismissed, asked to perform emotional labor for free, and otherwise not held in the ways we aspire to hold everyone. We appreciate those who continued to point out to us our blindspots, even when we failed to listen or honor the wisdom they were bringing. We apologize. We know it is not enough. We are committing to strengthening our anti-racist actions, to continue looking deeper into our structures and personal biases, and to make ongoing changes to embody the teachings of yoga.

This is a time to wake up, to speak up, to stand up. This is a time to fight for what is right and educate those who are still in the dark. Every Black life matters. We all recognize that these are not new issues, but this IS a new opportunity to be allies and agents of change, in large and small ways. Let us not hide from this challenge or wait for someone else to do the heavy lifting. We each have a voice and a responsibility to fight for a better, more just and peaceful world. Join us as we listen, as we learn, as we change, and as we do what we do best: share the ancient and powerful practice of yoga and meditation with children across the globe.

In addition to the ways in which KAY supports bringing yoga to all children, we specifically recognize and commit to the following:

► Our materials and content need to be reviewed and updated. Some existing content contains ideas or themes rooted in racist structures we are now becoming aware of. These have caused harm and discrimination, and we are committed to a thorough review and action steps. We will give updates as to our actions regarding these materials.

We also recognize that we have not fully understood what cultural appropriation of yoga looks like. We understand that, in certain instances, we have used yoga in a way that has diminished its roots and caused harm to the culture from which it arises. We are undergoing a deep review of our materials and marketing, in this light, and will give updates as to our actions as a result of this review.

We also recognize that asking our Black teachers to share what they are doing to guide themselves through these “trying times” was felt as insensitive by many teachers. It was not our intention to cause harm in this way, but we understand how this is emotional labor, and that teachers need to be compensated for this. We will compensate any teachers we call upon to support us in this process.

We acknowledge the lack of Black leadership within KAY, and are actively expanding the leadership team to include and elevate Black wisdom and voices. This week, we are delighted to welcome Shawandra Ford and Camelia Brown onto the leadership team. We will continue to expand our team in the coming weeks.

We are revamping our KAY4ALL training to include specific anti-racist training. We will make it mandatory and included for all trainees and trainers. Meanwhile, KAY Leadership is undergoing anti-racist trainings themselves, which will be ongoing.

We are in the process of allocating resources to support scholarships for BIPOC trainees, to fund classes in underserved communities, and to offer financial support to organizations upholding anti-racism and helping make yoga accessible and available to BIPOC families.

In order to move forward and accomplish the mandates listed above, we have created a Justice Task Force. The JTF will identify and implement the changes needed within KAY. The JTF consists of seasoned and new team leaders committed to serving to create an anti-racist culture within our organization.

We will be adding tasks to the list, as we grow and evolve in our understanding of what needs to be done. We hope you will join us in doing this work in your own lives.

We are open to feedback, but we understand that it is no one’s job but ours to look, to learn, to digest, and to take action. We stand by our commitment to become an anti-racist organization whose work uplifts, supports and learns from Black wisdom and leadership.

Please email info@kiddingaroundyoga.com if you wish to reach out to us in regard to this statement, whether it’s feedback, an offer to join our efforts, or you want to be kept up to date with these promises. 

Namaste,

Kidding Around Yoga

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