In yoga, there are a handful of poses that seem simple, but are actually quite powerful. One of these poses is called "Perfect Pose," also sometimes referred to as "Adept's Pose." In Sanskrit, this pose is called, "Siddhasana" (sid-HAHS-uh-nuh). Siddhasana is an ancient, seated yoga posture that is traditionally used for long periods of meditation and breathing exercises (called "pranayama" in Sanskrit).
According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a yoga manual written in the 14th century CE, Siddhasana is the most distinguished of all yoga positions. The word "siddha" in Sanskrit means "perfect" or "adept." It refers to powers within the body that are available to those who are spiritually enlightened. Practicing Siddhasana, therefore, is one way to achieve this type of "perfection."
Some yoga traditions believe that mastering Siddhasana implies mastering the lower, ego-based self, an achievement that leads to Samadhi, or ultimate bliss. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika claims this perfection will take 12 years to achieve, but modern yoga teachers might debate the accuracy of that timeline! Whether you are seeking perfection or merely a comfortable seated posture, Siddhasana will provide benefits for your mind, body, and spirit.
Benefits of Perfect Pose
Siddhasana stretches the hips, knees, and ankles. It also strengthens the core muscles, including the abdomen and the back. The pressure exerted by the heels on the groin area in Siddhasana helps to balance the activities of the reproductive organs. This pressure regulates the production of hormones, particularly testosterone, and can be therapeutic for men with prostate troubles. It also helps stabilize sexual energy, which is beneficial for deep meditation and for those practicing celibacy.
When perfection is attainable through Siddhasana, what is the use of practicing many other asanas?
14th century CE
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika also states that Siddhasana cleanses and purifies the 72,000 lines of energy throughout the body, known as "nadis". It is believed that this posture helps to control excess nervous energy and regulate the flow of the vital life force, called "prana".
Avoid practicing this pose if you have a knee injury or sciatica. Also avoid this pose if you have recently had hip surgery. If your hips or low back are very tight or painful, it might be difficult to cross your legs. Never force the pose. Instead, practice a modified version until your flexibility increases (see Modifications & Variations, below). Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended, spine straight, and arms resting at your sides. This is Staff Pose (Dandasana).
- Bend your left knee and bring your left heel in toward the groin area. Rest your heel along the perineum, the spot at the base of your spine between the anus and the genitals.
- Bend the right leg and draw your right heel in. Place your right, outer ankle over the inner ankle of your left foot. Rest your right heel at the top of your pubic bone.
There are several hand variations you can take:
- Hands resting on your thighs with your palms facing up or down
- Palms together in prayer position (Anjali Mudra) at your heart center
- Gyan Mudra, creating a circle with each index finger and thumb
- Any other mudra appropriate for your meditation.
- Keep your spine straight.
- Close your eyes and turn your gaze inward.
- Hold for up to one minute, or for the duration of your meditation or pranayama practice.
- Release the pose by extending both legs along the floor in Staff Pose. Then rest in Corpse Pose (Savasana) for at least five minutes.
Modifications & Variations
It’s important to feel comfortable in Siddhasana. Be sure to make whatever modifications you need to feel steady, safe, and supported in the pose. Here are a few suggestions:
- If your hips are tight, do not sit flat on the floor! Instead, sit up on a folded blanket, two blankets, a bolster, a block, or a meditation pillow. Propping your hips above the level of your knees will greatly reduce the stress and discomfort in your hips, knees, and back. It will also allow your groins to open even further and it will bring your spine into correct alignment. You will be able to stay in the pose for much longer periods if you are comfortable. Experiment with various heights of support to find the one that is most appropriate for you.
- For more back support, sit with your back against a wall. Another variation is to place a yoga block between the wall and your shoulder blades.
- If you are not yet able to perform Siddhasana, practice Easy Pose (Sukhasana) until you have gained the flexibility and strength to sit comfortably in the pose.
Practicing Siddhasana in correct alignment will provide a comfortable space for you to deepen your meditation and pranayama practice. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Be sure to change the cross of your legs, not favoring one side or the other. Hold the pose for the same length of time on each side.
- The outer ankle of your top foot should rest on top of the inner ankle of your bottom foot.
- Don't force yourself into the pose and don't overdo it, either. Take it slowly and be patient, holding the pose for only one minute to start. Peace will come in time.
It might take some time to feel truly comfortable in Siddhasana. Practice it regularly, even if it's only for one minute a day, to gain the most benefits and to see results more quickly. Be sure to use modifications and props until you are ready for the pose without them. If the ancient texts are correct, you may well be on your way to deep bliss and oneness with all!