Growing a Lotus

John Friend
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Yoga

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Growing a Lotus is part of a series of four DVDs filmed during a week-long retreat provided by Anusara Yoga founder John Friend at the Omega Institute; the workshop was originally offered as a live webcast. At the start of this one and a half hour session, Friend announces that that goal will be for everyone in the class to get into lotus pose--or some version thereof. Given this, he notes that the postures will focus on opening the hips. During the session, Friend leads from a small stage at the front of the room, sometimes walking around the audience, while an assistant, Kelly Haas, demonstrates the poses.

Friend begins the practice in the traditional Anusara way by chanting 3 rounds of OM and then 3 rounds of the Anusara invocation. Providing detailed instructions on form and alignment, he slowly leads the class into the first standing forward bend of the day, moving into a sort of modified sun salutation series which includes the high lunge, down dog, and eventually incorporating lizard lunge, a hip opener. He teaches just one standing posture, extended side angle pose, before moving the class to the floor. Here Friend leads the group through a pigeon series which includes several repetitions on either side. Seated postures include cow seat, head-to-knee pose, half lord of the fishes, wide angle seated forward bend, cobbler's pose, and baby cradle.

Coming down to lying, Friend cues additional work on the hamstrings and hips through reclined hand-to-foot and reclined hamstring. He then has the participants come back to a seating position for several different moves in a half-hero position, including a half-hero forward bend and a half-hero, half-lotus twist. At this point, Friend announces to the class that they are ready to try lotus pose. He advises you to be careful not to sickle the foot, but other than that, he doesn't really provide any particular pointers or "tips" about how to get into the posture. The pose is held very briefly (this portion appears to have been cut short), and then is repeated on the other side.

Instructor Comments:
After lotus, Friend has the participants come into standing forward bend to stretch, then return to a seated position for a brief meditation. The session ends here; Friend mentions that they will be continuing on with savasana and he encourages the viewer to do so as well, but this is not included on the DVD. Overall, Growing a Lotus a wonderful immersion in the Anusara style and certainly a very nice practice for opening the hips. If you have worked on lotus pose in the past and have come close to getting into the posture, this class might be what puts you over the edge. However, if you have little or no experience with the pose, I don't think that Friend really teaches the posture here; for that, I would recommend Erich Schiffmann's Padmasana (Lotus Pose). Seeing John Friend teach live is a unique experience and probably worth the purchase of this--or one of the other Omega Institute series DVDs--alone! He is warm, engaging, and humorous; if you enjoy the Anusara style ("opening to grace"), adding Friend to your yoga library is a must.

Beth C (aka toaster)