The Lotus position (Sanskrit: Padmasanam -- "lotus posture") is a painful cross-legged sitting posture which originated in representations and meditative practices of Hinduism. It is an established part of the Hindu Yoga tradition, Zen and other meditative disciplines. The position is said to resemble a lotus, encourage "proper" breathing and foster physical stability.
It is perhaps the marquee image of the Eastern religious figure. Famous depictions of the lotus-posture include Shiva, the meditating ascetic god of Hinduism, and Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The first pictorial representation of padmasana is seen in the ancient Indian depiction of Shiva as Pashupati, Lord of Beasts, in Harrapa.
In this position the right foot is placed on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh with the soles of the feet turned up, the spine is straight (note the difference in the position of the feet between this and the "Indian" or "Tailor" style sitting position). In Hinduism the hands are placed on the knees whereas in zazen the hands form the cosmic mudra hand position.
" Padmasana (lotus pose)
Sit with the legs straight in front of the body. Slowly and carefully bend one leg and place the foot on top of the opposite thigh. The sole should face upward and the heel should be close to the pubic bone. When this feels comfortable, bend the other leg and place the foot on to top of the opposite thigh. Both knees should ideally touch the ground in the final position. The head and spine should be held upright and the shoulders relaxed. Place the hands on the knees in chin or jnana mudra. Relax the arms with the elbows slightly bent and check to make sure the shoulders are not raised or hunched. Close the eyes and relax the whole body. Observe the total posture of the body. Make the necessary adjustements by moving forward or backward until balance and alignment are experienced. Perfect alignement indicates the correct posture of padmasana.
Those who suffer from sciatica, sacral infections or weak or injured knees should not perform this asana. This asana should not be attempted until flexibility of the knees has been developed through practice of the pre-meditation asanas."