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I've got serious leg flexibility problems and have some lateral knee clicking and knee pain and tendonitis. Basically too much driving and cycling with no stretching i think.

If I try and get into the Lotus position my first leg/knee will be pointing near vertical. Its comical and feel like I'm falling backwards. I'm better than before though with stretching but still feel discomfort when just sitting cross legged on the floor for 10 minutes. I did months of strengthening the glutes and stretching the hip flexors but still have clicking knees. I'm now concentrating on stretching the piriformis more and the adductors/groin. I'm in Asia, out of the way abit from physios.

Is a tight piriformis the most likely culprit for first knee high in the air when trying to get into the lotus position?

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Also see this question on lotus flexibility –  BackInShapeBuddy Apr 27 at 23:02

1 Answer 1

Most often, it is tightness in the lateral rotators that prevent people from safely getting into the lotus position. So yes, a tight piriformis is likely a culprit. The adductors are usually not the issue for lotus.

First of all, if you have acute knee pain, you should not even attempt a lotus, or do any of the preparation exercises. If you are pain free at rest, then you can start working on lotus, but any time you feel the slightest pain or even discomfort in the knees, back off. Never leave your bent knee unsupported in the air, put a block or pillow under your knee/thigh.

Double pigeon pose is a great preparation for lotus, it is great for stretching muscles in the buttocks including the lateral rotators. In this video, David Keil, yoga anatomy expert, explains how to approach lotus safely. In addition, using a foam roller might help to massage and stretch the buttocks.

As a personal note, I was able to do the lotus a few years back, but stopped practising it. I just find it too risky for my knees. Our western lifestyle (sitting on chairs especially) create a lot of tightness in the hips, and no amount of stretching and exercise can fully compensate for that. Leslie Kaminoff, another yoga anatomy expert, argues that, with lotus, the risk-benefit ratio is way on the side of risk, and I agree with him. You can approach lotus in the safest, most anatomically correct way possible and still risk damage to your knees.

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