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I always thought that "Vajra Posture" and "Lotus Posture" were simply two names for the same thing. But recently somebody told me that Vajra Posture is for males and Lotus Posture for females, though without explaining any physical difference.

Searching turns up mostly interchangeable usage, and a few instances that confirm the male/female difference, though without explanation -- for example https://goo.gl/fxIi2Y and https://goo.gl/U0KKb1

Anybody know the story? Is there a male vs female difference? If so, is it the same physical posture, differing only in the gender of the practitioner, or is there an actual physical difference? Does it vary by tradition? (I suspect the difference is mainly found in the Tibetan / Vajrayana tradition, where the vajra symbolizes a male genital organ and the lotus a female organ.)


Addendum 8/30/2015. I wonder if what's called "half lotus position" in yoga is lotus position in Buddhism. In other words, in Buddhism vajra position is both feet up on opposite thighs, lotus position is just one foot up with the other on the mat. Evidence for this comes from this web site -- http://www.himalayanart.org/pages/glossary.cfm -- which is associated with the Rubin Museum (http://rubinmuseum.org/) -- this entry:

Asana (Skt.): seated or standing postures of which there are a variety of prescribed forms arising from iconographic descriptions found in religious texts. The names of the postures differ between religious traditions. For example the lotus posture in Hatha Yoga is called vajra posture in Buddhism. The half yoga posture in Hatha Yoga is called the lotus posture in Buddhism.

A problem here is that the term "half yoga posture" is not a standard yoga term (according to a web search). But perhaps they meant "half lotus".

Here, by the way, is a site showing both, using the names from yoga: lotus and half-lotus -- http://www.wildmind.org/posture/lotus.

yoga -- full lotus position (same as Buddhism -- vajra position?) yoga -- half lotus position (same as Buddhism -- lotus position?)

If my conjecture is correct, these are what's known in Buddhsim as vajra and lotus position respectively. Even if this is correct, however, it does not address the gender connection. Maybe that is just a Vajrayana (Tantric) convention -- male figures use the vajra position and female figures the lotus position. But even if so, I'm sure there is a story behind it.

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There is both no gender difference in the Lotus Posture and Vajra Posture or any other difference whatsoever as far as I'm aware. These are interchangeable terms for the same posture - the former has its root in Hatha Yoga and latter in Tibetan Vajrayana. There is, however, a gender difference in the Sattva Posture which is often recommended in Tibetan traditions if full lotus is not possible. This is maybe where the misunderstanding may have started? In the 'The Tibetan Yoga of Breath: Breathing Practices for Healing the Body and Cultivating Wisdom':

Sattva posture is done differently for males and females, but both can begin by sitting cross-legged on the floor. Elevating the hips so that they rest above the knees makes the posture easier to hold, so we need to sit on a pillow or cushion. For males, the left leg is tucked in closer to the body and the left foot placed on the inner right thigh, while the right leg rests in the front. For females it is the opposite: the left leg rests in the front and the right leg is tucked, with the right foot resting on the inner left thigh. This posture is similar to a half lotus posture, except that one leg rests in front of the body for balance.

  • Interesting, thanks.I have this book but had not read it in detail. The common understanding is that vajra and lotus are two names for the same posture, but that is exactly what I am now doubting. Please check the links (in the question) to a difference between vajra and lotus positions in Tibetan practice -- that is just a sample of many such references. The sattva posture in this book sounds like the left and right variants of what is called half-lotus in yoga and may be called lotus posture in Tibetan Buddhism, but I am pretty sure that is not the difference in the above references. – David Lewis Aug 30 '15 at 17:48
  • Yes those links definitely cast doubt. Perhaps a translation error? - as the weight of evidence points to Vajra and Lotus being the same from many sources within the actual traditions themselves. Be interesting if someone can cast more light on this. – Devindra Aug 30 '15 at 19:01
  • Yes, there is a lot of confusion. Mixing yoga and Buddhist terminology is one source; translation may be another. But I have seen enough usages like that to doubt it's due to simple errors. There may even be differences across lineages within Tibetan Buddhism. But somebody at the Rubin seems to think they have it down, and they do have some serious scholars available there. I think I am giving up for now, until one of those really knowledgeable scholars comes along to enlighten us. It's also not that important to me -- I didn't think it was going to be so challenging to straighten out. ;) – David Lewis Aug 30 '15 at 22:40
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Hope you are well.

I am a Tibetan Buddhism student and a ashtanga yoga practitioner. I have been reaching from the answer to this for a while. In ashtanga yoga, the full lotus posture or Padmasana is always with right leg first, and my teachers in India recommends this because of energy channels stimulation. In tantra traditions (like Tibetan Buddhism), the left leg is always first, and it is called vajra posture ( with the seven point of Vairochana describing this posture); my teacher in India will hit you literally if you put your left leg first as it is considered left handed practises, more exoteric and less God oriented.

I cannot find anything else about the differences.

I hope this helps

Regareds,J

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I am wondering about this , too. There is a Vajrasana in Indian Yoga, similar to the Heroic posture, or Seiza and a Virasana which is similar to the Vajrasana in Indian Buddhism.this is a very dynamic posture, that many children around the world use during play. Similar to sitting on one's heels, with some slight differences. I know the "Vajrasana" in tibetan buddhism says the male usually puts the left leg first and the right on top, and the women do the opposite, but I did no research on this. I don't like the way the Tibetan use this term. I think they like to equate the Padmasana, which is often associated with the control of the passions, as with the "Vajra" vehicle.

protected by Andrei Volkov Aug 30 at 19:15

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