HOW TO PRACTICE Low Lunge Pose IN YOGA (Anjaneyasana)
Benefits, How to Instructions, Modifications, and Common Alignment Mistakes for Low Lunge Pose
Low Lunge Pose (Sanskrit name: Anjaneyasana) is a beautiful yoga pose that provides a deep stretch to the front of the hip while strengthening the lower body. In Anjaneyasana, the grounding of the front foot and back knee stabilizes our balance and allows for the full flowering of the upper body.
Benefits of Low Lunge Pose
Low Lunge Pose combines grounding and expansion. In the full position with arms raised, this yoga pose stretches the front body and expands the chest and opens the shoulder space. It energizes as it stabilizes balance.
The deep stretch for the front of the hip helps counteract the effects of sitting for long periods of time. When we sit, the hips are in constant flexion. This can shorten and weaken the hip flexor muscles over time. Short and/or weak hip flexors often result in chronic back pain and postural dysfunction.
In addition to the lengthening action, Low Lunge Pose is a perfect yoga posture both for strengthening the quadriceps, back, and gluteus muscles on one hand, and for helping to release tight muscles in the low back on the other.
For yoga students cultivating balance and focus, practicing Low Lunge Pose with awareness of steady breath offers an excellent opportunity to practice both.
History of Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose)
“According to legend, as a child, Anjaneya was a tad over-confident. Considering his origins, this is hardly unexpected. Born to Anjana (a supernatural woman) and Kesari (king of the monkeys), he had magical powers and royalty in his genetic inheritance. On top of all that, he was godson to the wind god, Vayu, and was considered to be a reincarnation of Lord Shiva.
So when he gazed upward one day and mistook the sun for a glowing piece of fruit, he naturally decided to make a giant leap for it, hoping to snatch it out of the sky. This he did repeatedly, unharmed by the sun’s scorching rays that would have dissolved mere mortals. When Suryadeva, the sun god, enlisted Indra, god among gods, to strike Anjaneya down, a power struggle of otherworldly proportions ensued, causing Vayu to leave in a huff, jeopardizing all life forms on Earth.
But even gods are willing to compromise if they must. Indra agreed to make Anjaneya immortal if only Vayu would return to his post. Anjaneya was renamed Hanuman, the monkey god whose exploits are honored in Hanumanasana, also known as “splits.” Meanwhile, Anjaneya boasts his own pose. Anjaneyasana (Lunge Pose), a pose that expresses the human desire to leap up and capture that glowing fruit high in the sky.“ ~ Charlotte Bell
Basic Low Lunge Pose
Low Lunge Pose is typically approached from Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog); however, it is also possible to come into this yoga pose from Bharmanasana (Tabletop Pose) or Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose). This version is often seen in classical Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation), and is the approach shown in the video tutorial and described below.
- From Uttanasana, step your left foot back. This is a big step that may require several smaller steps for some yoga students in order to find the right distance.
- Allow your left knee to come to the floor. Make sure your right foot is evenly planted on the floor—heel to toe and inside to outside—and your heel is directly below your knee.
- Press your right foot and left knee into the floor. If your left knee feels as if it’s grinding into the floor, you may place a blanket under it for padding.
- Take care not to allow your left hip joint to hang toward the floor. Allowing the hip joint to collapse downward can cause the neck of your femur to press into the rim of the hip socket. Over time, this can damage the labrum of the socket and cartilage of the femur head. Instead, draw the very top of your thigh slightly back toward the back of your thigh to stabilize your hip joint.
- With your hands on the floor on either side of your right foot, take a few deep breaths, imagining the breath moving all the way down into the left thigh muscles.
- Stay here for 5 to 10 deep breaths before moving back into Uttanasana or Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose). Or, you can try the arm variation below.
- Grounding the right foot and left knee, lift your torso to upright, and place your hands on your right thigh. Take a few deep breaths.
- If you like, you can now extend your arms up vertically, and if your back is willing, tilt your torso back slightly so that your chest is looking skyward. Make sure as you do this that you do not collapse your back ribcage downward, compressing your low back. Instead, lift the back ribcage as your raise your arms. Ground your legs as you reach upward, taking care not to collapse the front of your left hip joint toward the floor, as above.
- Take a few full breaths before returning your hands to the floor, returning to Standing Forward Bend or Dog Pose. Then repeat on your other side.