Chandogya Upanishad 8:1, trans. Patrick Olivelle
Lotus pose, padmasana, is one of the earliest asana. It’s one of only four poses that are mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Siva Samhita, and the Gheranda Samhita. It’s cherished for its stability; because the pelvis is neutral, the spine can maintain maximum axial extension. In other words, we can sit up nice and tall, clearing the path for prana to flow through the central nadis.
But many American bodies are unable to enter padmasana without strain or even injury. And of those who can, the duration before the tingles start (from compressed nerves or restricted blood vessels) may be short.
Luckily, there are other sitting postures that permit the spine to extend axially and prana to flow freely. Easy pose (sukhasana), adept’s pose (siddhasana), or even sitting upright in a chair will work just as well for long periods of inner practice.
Working up to padmasana is itself a practice in patience. Take it easy; never force knees or hips, only invite them to comply. Use blankets or other props if they increase your comfort. And remember that padmasana is an asymmetrical pose, so you have to do both sides. In other words, make sure to spend equal time with the right leg on top as with the left.
And keep in mind that being able to sit in lotus pose is not the goal. Being able to accept your body as it is, to quiet your mind, and to rest in stillness—those are the real goals.