Recognize asanas and other postures – Part 2

- through Fabrice Groult

Published on

Second part of the gallery of seated postures of Buddhist characters and deities, devoted to standing and lying postures.

The main postures Static postures are of three orders: the straight posture (samabhanga) called samapadasana, in slight flexion (dvibhanga) or in triple flexion (tribhanga).
The dynamic postures present figures leaning to the left (aliḍha), to the right (pratyalidha), balancing on one leg (urdhvapada) or walking.

1-Static standing postures

The upright static posture, samapadasana 

In the straight static posture, samapadasana, the body is straight and balanced, the vertical legs are slightly apart, the weight of the body is evenly distributed on both feet.

The static posture in slight flexion, dvibhangasana

The posture is very close to the previous one, the only difference comes from the weight of the body which will be slightly transferred to one of the two legs, here the right, which causes a slight swaying of the hips.

The static posture in triple flexion, tribhangasana

The head is tilted to one side, the line of the bust takes the opposite tilt and the lower body leans to the same side as the head.

2-Dynamic standing postures

Left flexed posture

The alidhasana posture is a standing posture, left leg bent, right leg straight, it is the symbol of heroism. The chosen illustration shows the ḍakini Vajrayogini, wrathful goddess, an emanation of Ratnasambhava.

Right flexed posture

The reverse posture or pratyalidhasana presents the figure with the right leg bent and the left leg extended; it is the symbol of destruction and, as such, is adopted by many wrathful deities such as Bhairava, Hayagriva, Hevajra, Kalacakra, or Mahakala.

In the posture called ardhaparyankasana or urdhvapada, the left leg is bent, it carries the weight of the body, the right leg is bent almost horizontally. It is found in Cambodia, China and Tibet.

When it is adopted by peaceful characters, we speak of a dancing attitude, it would find its origins with dancing Siva; it then symbolizes, just like the lalitasana posture, serenity.

This posture is also adopted by wrathful deities (certain forms of Hevajra, Heruka and ḍakini) who trample subdued figures.

3-The Walking Buddha 

The last example retained of dynamic posture is that adopted by the walking Buddhas found above all in Thailand and Laos. Walking Buddhas seem to appear in Thailand in the kingdom of Lan Na and Sukhothai.

4-Lying postures (or sayanas)

We can observe three main categories of lying postures, the most famous is that adopted for the representations of Shakyamuni during his parinirvana, the second is that of Queen Mayadevi during the conception of Siddharta by the white elephant and finally the deities or captivated characters.

The parinirvana

When performing his parinirvana, Shakyamuni lies on his side, his right hand supports the head, the left arm and hand lie on the body. This posture is adopted in all countries practicing Buddhism, all styles of Buddhist art and all schools. More than any other subject, this theme has always been the subject of sculptures of all sizes, including monumental ones.

M's dreamaya and the conception of Siddharta

“The bodhisattva having descended from the excellent abode of the tusita (…) entered his mother's womb by the right flank (…) under the figure of a small white elephant with six tusks, with a cochineal-colored head, having teeth like a line of gold”. Excerpt from Lalitavistarasutra, ch. VI.

In partnership with the Institute of Buddhist Studies (

photo of author

Fabrice Groult

Fabrice Groult is an adventurer, photographer and Buddhist who has traveled the world since a young age. After studying Buddhism in India, he embarked on an eighteen-month journey through Asia that took him to the Himalayas, where he discovered his passion for photography. Since then, he has traveled the world capturing images of Buddhist beauty and wisdom. He was a guide for ten years, and is now a journalist with Buddhist News.

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