SIDDHASNA its Benefits & Yoga Pose Breakdown | AGYA YOGA STUDIO

Benefits & Yoga Pose Breakdown

Want to learn more about Siddhasana, aka Accomplished Pose? In this post, I share the benefits of Siddhasana, a complete yoga pose breakdown, contraindications, myths, a step-by-step how-to video, modifications and more.

Barbara Bakos, Illustrator

Siddhasana is one of only two poses that can lay claim to being the first yoga pose. Along with Padmasana (Lotus Pose), these two are the only poses that appear in all of the four main ancient yoga texts.

The Goraksha Sataka — the most ancient of all the texts, dated as having been written around 900 CE — mentions only Padmasana and Siddhasana. At that time, yoga was a seated meditation practice, so it makes sense these were the two poses you needed to know.

All the other poses that have come since have, in some way, came about as tools to help us be able to sit in one of the two original poses comfortably, for extended periods of time, so that we too may become enlightened.

Because, of course, it can’t be enough to be able to sit in the pose. There have to be claims attached that if you master Accomplished Pose and sit in it for a long time you will become enlightened.

While the pose is mentioned is all major yoga texts, there are different opinions on how one “properly” sits in Siddhasana.

There is general consensus that Siddhasana is a seated pose. Cool. That’s fairly straightforward. But, what you do with your feet in the pose varies depending on what text you read, what teacher you have, or what photo or drawing you happen to be looking at.

You need to tuck the toes/sole of the foot on top between the thigh and the calf of the lower leg. Darren Rhodes has you place the right foot in front of the left foot with both knees, shins, and feet on the ground.

So what do I mean by Siddhasana? I used to practice the Iyengar version, but in the past 10 years have shifted to the Darren Rhodes version. Partly this is down to age. Or at least the age of my knees.

As the meniscus in my knees wears out, as it does naturally as we age (I am 49 at the time of writing this), my knees don’t respond well to the extra twist and torque put on them when doing the tuck of the foot between the calf and thigh. So I have transitioned to the Darren Rhodes version, which is also known as Ardha Siddhasana or Muktasana (Just to confuse the matter, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika says that Muktasana and Siddhasana are the same pose.)

Here’s what you’ll learn about Siddhasana in this post:

  • Siddhasana Quick Facts

  • Siddhasana Benefits

  • Precautions & Contraindications

  • Misconceptions & Myths About Accomplished Pose

  • Siddhasana Pose Breakdown

  • Modifications & Variations

  • Yoga Poses Related to Accomplished Pose

  • Related Posts & Videos

  • Gear & Resources for This Pose

  • A Final Note About Accomplished Pose

Siddhasana Quick Facts

Sanskrit : Siddhasana

English : Accomplished Pose / Perfect Pose

Pronunciation : sih-dh-AHS-ahn-nuh

Meaning : Siddha means perfect or adept. A Siddha is someone who has perfected yoga and achieved enlightenment. Asana means pose or posture. Siddhasana means the Pose of the Siddha, but it commonly referred to as

Accomplished Pose or Perfect Pose.

Siddhasana Benefits

Note: I only include the scientifically supported benefits of Siddhasana here. Plenty of claims about other supposed benefits (from the plausible to the magical to the ridiculous) have been made. To me, pseudo-scientific claims only serve to harm the yoga community, so I choose not to give them airtime here.

The main physical benefits of Siddhasana include:

  • Stretches the front of your ankles.

  • Strengthens calf muscles.

  • Stretches your groin muscles, which helps improve hip flexibility.

  • Stretches inner thighs/hip adductors.

  • It’s a great hip opener.

  • Strengthens your lower back.

  • Builds strength in your erector spinae muscles (the muscles that help you sit up straight).

  • Strengthens your core.

  • Sitting in Siddhasana while meditating or practicing pranayama can help calm your nervous system.

Loads of people claim that Siddhasana gives you control over your sexual urges. Can a yoga pose really do that?

Oh, and according to some, practicing it leads to enlightenment, which, if it really does, would definitely count as a “benefit of Siddhasana”.

In Light on Yoga

“The yogi practicing contemplation upon Atman and observing a moderate diet, if he practices Siddhasana for twelve years, obtains the yoga siddhis.” The siddhis being the “magical powers” of yoga that Patanjali discusses in the Yoga Sutras.

If you want more on the benefits of yoga, see our complete guide to the benefits of yoga, which includes a history of yoga plus the origins of our modern yoga practice and much more.

Precautions & Contraindications

Remember that while yoga is for everyone, not all poses are for all people!

  • If you have a back injury you may wish to avoid sitting in this pose. However, this pose does build strength in your back, so can help with some back issues.

  • If you have an injury to your knees or ankles, this pose can be challenging, or impossible.

  • If you have a meniscus injury in your knee, you may want to avoid this pose, or modify the pose. See the Modifications section below.

  • If you have arthritis in your hips, knees, ankles or feet, the compression of your hips, knees and ankles my cause inflammation, which could make your arthritis worse.

  • If you have sciatica pain, sitting in Siddhasana might worsen your discomfort.

  • If you are pregnant and have swollen legs (water retention) it will likely be uncomfortable to sit in Siddhasana for very long.

Misconceptions & Myths About Accomplished Pose

What I write in this section will be controversial to some in the yoga community. There are those who believe firmly in the mystical side of yoga.

Using metaphor to explain complex ideas, feelings, and experiences is wonderful. Confusing metaphor for reality is a far-too-common trap people fall into in yoga.

Part of what I want Adventure Yoga to do is myth-bust. So, let’s dive into the myths around Siddhasana.

Siddhasana stimulates your chakras

The chakras aren’t real. There are no spinning wheels inside your body. Thinking about the colour purple is just as likely to make you think of Oprah as it to open your mind to enlightenment and immortality.

We don’t have time for a whole breakdown of why the chakras are nothing but a metaphor.

Siddhasana will purify your 72,000 nadis

Modern science will tell you that the nadis are likely synonymous with the nervous system, and your nervous system not only doesn’t need purifying, but that is not even a thing. One cannot purify their nervous system. Can you relax? Hell yeah. But relaxing and purifying are not synonymous.

Yet, I just Googled “purify your nervous system” and the top results are yoga-related and offer poses that promise to do just that very thing. A thing which you literally can not do.

Siddhasana helps you stay celibate

Many teachers suggest that having your heel pressing into your body will stimulate your Mula Bandha and your muladhara chakra – and that this will help you practice celibacy.

First, I’ll address the science with a question for the doctors out there: does pushing your foot into your groin make you celibate? Turns out we’re still waiting for the data on that one.

Now, let’s look at the implication of such a claim.

Even the suggestion that a yoga student should be celibate is a huge overreach on the part of a teacher. Some teachers, knowingly or not, attempt to soften the language by saying that Siddhasana will help you control your sexual desires.

The intent doesn’t change just because the language has shifted. The implication is that the teacher wants control over their students and their privates lives. And that’s a big red flag.

I suppose if you sat in Siddhasana 24 hours a day for 12 years on your path to enlightenment, then technically you’d be celibate for those 12 years, so technically is can make you celibate?

Do you see why there isn’t really a through line from yoga’s historical context to our modern lives?

Siddha, Siddha, Siddhis

It can get a little confusing when talking about the meaning of this pose name so I thought it was worth diving into a bit deeper.

The word siddha can be used to describe something that is perfect, or someone who has perfected a skill. We often translate siddha as “adept”, but in Indian culture an “adept” isn’t just a skilful practitioner, but an accomplished master who has attained enlightenment.

There is a lineage of yoga called Siddha Yoga. In this tradition, the practitioners work to achieve spiritual enlightenment and supernatural powers through meditation. One who achieves enlightenment is called a Siddha.

And then there are the siddhis. These are the yoga superpowers, and apparently you receive them once you become a Siddha. Or more accurately, the superpowers have always been there, but once you are a Siddha you can sense them, activate them, and control them.

Patanjali writes about the siddhis in Chapter 3 of the Yogasutra. He includes powers like invisibility, shapeshifting, mind reading, and other fun powers.

Remember what I said earlier about metaphor getting confused with reality?

No One Agrees on Where to Place Your Feet

The general consensus is that Siddhasana is a seated pose. Beyond that, what you do with your feet in the pose varies depending on who your teacher is, who their teacher was, what text you read, or what photo or drawing you happen to be looking at.

There are different opinions on how to position your feet in Siddhasana. In general, there are two main variations.

You to place the sole of the foot on top between the thigh and the calf of the lower leg.

Bend the left leg at the knee. Hold the left foot with the hands, place the heel near the perineum and rest the sole of the left foot against the right thigh. Now bend the right leg at the knee and place the right foot over the left ankle, keeping the right heel against the pubic bone. Place the sole of the right foot between the thigh and the calf of the left leg.

Bend the left knee and place the left heel against the perineum. Lower the top of the foot and shin to the floor. Bend the right knee and place the right foot in front of the left foot — outer right heel on top of the left ankle.

The Goraksha Sataka, a text from around the 10th century, states that there are as many asanas as there are species of creatures, but that Shiva detailed 84 asanas. Out of all the asanas only two are described: Siddhasana and Kamalasana (aka Padmasana).

Of Siddhasana it says: “The Yogi should press firmly the heel of the [left] foot against the perineum and the right foot just above the male organ.” Presumably if you don’t have a male organ you can modify.

Accomplished Pose is also one of the 84 poses that is attributed to Shiva in the Shiva Samhita (15th century), the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (15th century), and the Gheranda Samhita (17th century).

The Shiva Samhita includes Siddhasana as one of four poses it details. The others are Padmasana, Ugrasana* and Swastikasana.

"Modern yoga tends to call this Paschimottanasana while there is a modern pose called Ugrasana that is the same as Upavista Konasana A (holding your big toes).

To practice Siddhasana, it suggests that you, “press, with care, the heel on the yoni [perineum]. The other heel the yogi should place on the lingam [sex organ].”

In a description that is very similar to the Shiva Samhita, it says “Press one heel into the place below the sex organs [the perineum] and put the other heel just above this region… Of the 84 asanas one should always practice Siddhasana. It purifies the 72,000 nadis.”

And then there is the Gheranda Samhita most recent of the “ancient” texts, written in the 17th century. It describes 32 asanas that it claims “are useful in the world of mortals.”'

It describes Siddhasana quite poetically. “The practitioner who has subdued his passion, having placed one heel at the anal aperture should keep the other heel on the root of the generative organ… This is called Siddhasana and leads to enlightenment.”

They all agree it is one of the most important asanas, so that’s a start. But the variations in detailed foot placement means that the pose it taught lots of different ways by different teachers around the world. A quick image search will throw up countless variations all labelled Siddhasana.

Sit in Siddhasana, Get Enlightened

The claim that this pose leads to enlightenment explains why it is called Siddhasana. Siddhas are enlightened humans on earth. So we named the pose after them.

One of the most famous Siddhas of all time, Siddhartha (more commonly known as Buddha), is often depicted sitting in Siddhasana.

But does simply sitting in this pose actually lead to enlightenment? Probably not. But maybe. Mr Iyengar suggests we have to practice it for 12 years to reach enlightenment. It’s unclear if he means continuously, and if not, how are we to know how regularly to practice it over those 12 years?

Can it help settle your mind and strengthen your core to sit cross-legged for extended periods of time? For sure. And that’s awesome.

Siddhasana vs Sukhasana

In Siddhasana, there isn’t consensus over what to do with our feet. However, there is a clear difference between Siddhasana and Sukhasana.

In Siddhasana, your feet are always together in some way. Generally, either the ankles are stacked or one foot is right in front of the other.

In Sukhasana, your shins are crossed, knees are off the ground, and you are working towards having your ankles under the opposite knees. Sukhasana is the pose we naturally tend to go to when we sit down, and it’s what children sometimes call Criss Cross Apple Sauce.

Your hips need to be more open for Siddhasana than they do for Sukhasana. Also, Siddhasana can cause strain to your knee joint. If it does, back off. Sukhasana can be a good alternative if you are getting knee pain in Siddhasana.

Siddhasana vs Padmasana

Padmasana is Lotus pose.

Instead of your feet stacked or in front of one another as they are in Siddhasana, in Padmasana your feet are placed on the opposite hip at the hip crease (where your thigh and hip meet).

Siddhasana Pose Breakdown

How to do Siddhasana / Accomplished Pose

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in Dandasana.

  2. Bend your left knee and bring your left foot close to your right inner thigh, turning your left leg out in an external rotation as your move your foot up.

  3. Move your left knee to the left and slide your left foot into your groin so that your heel is pressing into, or near, the centre of your perineum.

  4. Turn your left leg out enough so that you can place the top of your left foot, front of your left shin, and left knee on the ground. If your left knee doesn’t reach the ground see the Modifications section below.

  5. Bend your right knee and bring your right foot close to your left ankle, turning your right leg out in an external rotation as you move your foot towards your pelvis.

  6. Place the top of your right foot on the ground in front of your left foot so that your ankles line up.

  7. Turn your right leg out enough so that you can place the front of your right foot, right shin and your right knee on the ground. See the Modifications section below if your right knee doesn’t reach the ground.

  8. Sit up tall, steady your gaze on something. Create a straight line from the crown of your head to your heart to the centre of your pelvis.

  9. Maintain the pose for as long as comfortably possible (or until you have something else you need to do). This is Siddhasana.

  10. To come out of the pose, straighten your right leg and then your left leg.

  11. This is a two-sided pose. Often we don’t practice both sides during the same practice, so be sure to change up which leg is closest to your body/on the bottom in the pose.

There is another option for doing this pose, and that is to slide the toes of the top foot into the space between the bottom leg’s calf muscles.

Modifications & Variations

If your knees don’t come to the ground

You can place yoga blocks under your thighs so that they can rest on the blocks, instead of holding them up in the air. This gives your muscles a chance to release, giving you a chance to find more space.

You can sit on a folded yoga blanket or a yoga block to lift your pelvis. This will help lower your knees to or towards the ground.

You can also sit in Sukhasana and spend time working on opening your hips in Sukhasana before progressing into Siddhasana. It might show up in classes regularly but it is not a beginner’s pose.

Don’t force your knees down

If you’re new to this pose or you have limitations in your hips or knees, do not force your knees down in order to get closer to the ground. Only go down as far as you feel comfortable. If you cannot get your knees into a comfortable position, sit on a folded blanket. This will help take the pressure off of your knees and hips.

If your back rounds or is uncomfortable

Use a meditation cushion, or folded up yoga blanket and pop it under your pelvis so you can sit on it.

This can also help if your knees are close to the ground but not quite there yet. By sitting on a cushion or blanket it can adjust your position just enough that your knees come to the ground, allowing you to settle into the pose.

If your knees hurt

Make sure you actively point (plantar flex) your ankles. You can also place a small folded towel behind your knee before closing the knee joint. By limiting how much the knee joint can close it can help limit pain.

If you feel discomfort in your hips

You can sit on a folded blanket, or on a yoga block, so that your hips are above the level of your knees. If this is still not enough of a modification, you might want to add another blanket to raise you up higher.

If your knees are really high off the ground

You will likely be better served by practicing Sukhasana to prepare for Siddhasana. Sukhasana will help improve the flexibility in your hips.

Turn it up to 11

If you want to be able to sit in Siddhasana while meditating, you need to start practicing holding it for longer periods of time. This is gong to build the strength in your core and spine (and the stamina!) to sit for extended periods of time.

That said, start with small increments. Set a timer for one minute, and see how it goes. Next time you practice add another minute to your sitting. Keep increasing the length of time you sit by one minute, as you get stronger and more comfortable in the pose.

Siddhasana requires you to be strict with yourself about your posture. Focus on sitting up straight as you stay in the pose longer. Particularly focus on your upper back — the longer you sit in Perfect Pose the less perfect your posture will become

Focusing on your posture will build strength in your erector spinae, multifidi, and abdominal muscles, allowing you to continue to add time, over time.

Variations on a theme

If you practice Siddhasana as I teach it, it sometimes goes by another name: Muktasana, aka Liberation Pose.

Depending on who you listen to, Muktasana is either exactly the same as Siddhasana, as it says in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, or it is a distinct variation where Siddhasana has to have the foot tucked, and Muktasana has both feet on the ground (as I instruct it here).

Got that all clear?

When used in meditation, the variations seem to be interchangeably called Burmese position.

Just to confuse things, this is also sometimes called Ardha Siddhasana (ardha means half). This is to differentiate it from the variation with your top foot tucked between the calf and thigh of the opposite leg.

And sometimes it is called Ardha Padmasana, or Half Lotus Pose. I guess because it is less difficult for most people than Padmasana. However, there is already a pose called Ardha Padmasana where one leg is in Lotus, the other straight out like Dandasana. So that just seems unnecessarily confusing.

All the ladies,

According to Hatha Yoga Pradipika, there is variation of Siddhasana recommended for female yogis called Siddha Yoni Asana. That makes for a nice change. Usually the historical texts are so patriarchal that women tend to be an afterthought. This indicates that at least by the 15th century it was assumed women were meditating (remember, that’s what yoga was at the time).

In Siddha Yoni Asana, you sit in a similar position to Siddhasana, but instead of using the perineum and “sex organ” (as it’s often translated), you press the heel of your bottom foot into the opening of your vagina/labia majora and your upper heel rests against your clitoris.

Don’t forget to change it up

Don’t forget that this is a two-sided pose. Ideally you would change the leg you bend first each time you practice this pose. It’s not uncommon for one side to feel more flexible than the other, and we tend to favour the more flexible side. In order to help balance out the work, we need to practice both sides.

Yoga Poses Related to Accomplished Pose

Preparatory Poses

  • Baddha Konasana / Bound Angle Pose

  • Dandasana / Staff Pose

  • Sukhasana / Comfortable Pose

  • Janu Sirsasana / Forehead to Knee Pose

  • Salabhasana / Locust Pose

  • Bhekasana / Frog Pose

  • Hindolasana / Baby Cradle Pose

  • Utkatasana / Intense or Chair Pose

Follow-up Poses

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Dog Pose

  • Purvottanasana / Reverse Plank Pose

  • Parighasana / Gate Keeper Pose

  • Upavista Konasana / Seated Wide-Legged Forward Fold Pose

  • Janu Sirsasana / Forehead to Knee Pose

  • Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana / Revolved Forehead to Knee Pose

  • Ardha Matsyendrasana / Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

Poses To Take Your Practice Further

  • Baddha Konasana / Bound Angle Pose

  • Ardha Padmasana / Half Lotus Pose

  • Padmasana / Lotus Pose

  • Padmasana in Sirsasana / Lotus in Headstand

  • Eka Pada Rajakapotasana / One-Legged King Pigeon Pose

  • Kukkutasana / Rooster Pose

Good for the planet and great for your practice!

A Final Note About Accomplished Pose

We barely even touched on the claims that sitting in Siddhasana will give the powers of the siddhi (magical powers, of course). Maybe that’s because I hope that most of us can accept that, while yoga is incredibly beneficial, the work we do isn’t magic. You do this work. You are the one in charge and the effort is yours. Reducing the benefits to “magic” is insulting.

Will you get enlightened practicing this pose? I suppose anything is possible.

Will “mastering” this pose cleanse your nadis and release your chakras? If that’s what you feel you need, then I hope it does, and I hope it helps. But I also hope you understand that this is a metaphorical cleansing and releasing.

Will it help you relax to sit still and breath slowly and steadily while letting go of your thoughts? It sure as heck will!

All this considered, please don’t miss understand me. Practice Siddhasana! I love this pose and I sit in it daily. But I don’t do it because it’s going to turn me into the David Copperfield of Yoga.

I do it because it helps keep my knees feeling mobile and strong, it stretches the fronts of my ankles in a way nothing else does, I love the way it can help me focus on strengthening my upper back to sit up straighter. Plus, when I sit on a blanket in Siddhasana, it’s one of my favourite poses for meditation.

18 views0 comments