Padma means Lotus. When the Asana is demonstrated, it presents the appearance of a Lotus, in a way. Hence the name Padmasana. This is also known by the name Kamalasana.
Amongst the four poses prescribed for Japa and Dhyana, Padmasana comes foremost. It is the best Asana for contemplation. Rishis like Gheranda, Sandilya and others speak very highly of this vital Asana. This is highly agreeable for householders. Even ladies can sit in this Asana. Padmasana is suitable for lean persons and for youths as well.
Sit on the ground by spreading the legs forward. Then place the right foot on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh. Place the hands on the knee-joints.
You can make a finger-lock and keep the locked hands over the left ankle. This is very convenient for some persons. Or you can place the left hand over the left knee and then place the right hand over the right knee with the palm facing upwards and the index-finger touching the middle portion of the thumb (Chinmudra).
If you cannot place both the feet on the thighs at the very start, just keep one foot on one thigh for some time and the other foot on the other thigh for some time. After a few days' practice, you will be able to keep both the feet on the thighs. This is half pose of Padmasana or Ardha-Padmasana.
Sit at ease. Place the right foot on the left thigh and the left foot underneath the right thigh. Lord Gauranga used to sit on this Asana for his meditation. This is a comfortable posture. Virasana means hero posture.
III. Parvatasana (Mountain Pose):
Do ordinary Padmasana. Stand on the knees and raise your hands above. This is Parvatasana. Keep a thick blanket on the ground and then do this Asana so that you will not injure your knees. In the beginning, for a few days, catch hold of a stool or bench till you get the balance. Afterwards you can raise the hands above.
Sit on Virasana and then raise the hands above and be steady. Some persons call this also as Parvatasana.
IV. Samasana (Equal Pose):
Place the left heel at the beginning of the right thigh and the right heel at the beginning of the left thigh. Sit at ease. Do not bend either on the left or right. This is called Samasana.
Sit on ordinary Padmasana. Catch hold of the right toe with the right hand and the left toe with the left hand, thus making a cross of your hand at the elbow.
VI. Utthita Padmasana:
Sit on Padmasana. Keep your palms on the ground by your sides. Slowly raise the body. There should be no jerks. The body should not be trembling. Retain the breath as long as you remain in that raised position. When you come down you can exhale. Persons who cannot perform Kukkutasana can do this. The hands are kept by the sides in this Asana, but the hands are kept between the thigh and calf muscles in Kukkutasana. This is the difference.