The lotus posture, padmasana, is the name traditionally given to a way of sitting in many Indian spiritual practices, particularly in meditation. 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 on the knees or 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 to maintain for extended periods. Indian tradition ascribes a great deal of benefits to the padmasana, that it harmonized “energy”, that it massages the nerves enhancing relaxation, etc, even that it is essential for meditational progress. Most of these claims would seem to be fanciful.
In traditional Buddhist art the Buddha is often depicted sitting in the padmasana. However, in the suttas the Buddha himself says nothing about posture in sitting meditation other than that one should sit “with the body straight” (ujum kayam) and the legs “pallankam abhujitva”. The word abujitva could mean crossed (i.e. lotus posture) or simply folded and the term padmasana occurs nowhere in the Tipitaka. 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 is less likely to cause cramps and painful stiffness. Although the placement of the body may have some influence on the mind it is probably very 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.