Support Crescent Lunge with Yoga Blocks

Most of us spend an awful lot of time sitting. Desk jobs may seem easy on the body, but in reality, all that sitting can wreak havoc on our physical and cognitive health. Effects of too much sitting include foggy brain due to poor circulation, weakened abdominal and gluteal muscles, neck problems from too much flexion (a.k.a. text neck), hypertension, heart disease, and even possibly colon cancer. Yoga practice can certainly play a part in alleviating the stresses of sitting. Stretching the hip flexors is key. Crescent Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana) is one of the most effective—and most accessible—poses for lengthening the hip flexors.

Crescent Lunge Pose helps stretch the hip flexors because the back leg is in an extended position. That is true for other lunge poses as well. But Crescent Lunge is unique in that the torso is upright. This adds a backbend to the mix, stretching the hip flexors further.

The Problem With Crescent Lunge

Anjaneyasana pose, also known as Crescent Lunge Pose shown here in a more extreme version of the Pose.

You’ve probably seen photos of bendy women practicing Crescent Lunge with their back thigh almost touching the ground. These photos may look impressive, but they make me cringe. I’m no psychic, but I do understand hip joint mechanics. When I see these photos, I can envision these bendy women getting hip replacements down the road.

When you allow the entire weight of your torso to bear down on the hip joint when it’s in extreme extension, you can, over time, damage the cartilage and labrum. When you collapse toward gravity in this pose, your femur head pushes into the socket under extreme pressure. This wears down the cartilage and can even tear the labrum. Chances are, you won’t feel it at the time. That’s because cartilage has no enervation. You don’t feel the damage until the cartilage is gone and your joint is bone on bone.

Stretch Your Hip Flexors And Save Your Hips

Young woman in comfortable sportswear doing Crescent Lunges at home.

The good news is you can practice Crescent Lunge safely. You just need to let go of the idea that your thigh has to be hovering just inches above the ground. Yoga is not a “no pain, no gain” endeavor. You don’t have to push yourself until you feel the extreme sensation. In fact, developing the sensitivity to feel subtle sensation is more indicative of “advanced” practice than pushing yourself to an unhealthy limit.

No yoga pose is worth damaging your joints!

Yoga blocks can be key to practicing Crescent Lunge in a way that keeps your hip joints safe. Sure, you can practice safely without blocks by simply not allowing your body to collapse toward the floor. But placing your hands on blocks helps you relax more deeply into your pose.

How To Practice Supported Crescent Lunge

Yoga props that can add comfort and ease to yoga poses like Crescent Lunge.

There are several ways to approach Crescent Lunge Pose. I like to begin with Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana), so that’s what I’ll describe here. I like to place a folded blanket under my back knee in this pose, especially if I’m practicing on a hard floor, but that’s optional.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Yoga mat
  • Two yoga blocks
  • One folded blanket (optional)
  1. Place a folded blanket across the center of your mat.
  2. Stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) at one end of your mat, facing away from the “tail” end of the mat. Place two blocks on either side of your feet at their tallest height.
  3. Bend forward from your hip joints into Uttanasana.
  4. Bend your knees enough that you can place your hands on your blocks.Yogi practicing variation of Ardha Uttanasana pose or variation of Standing Forward Fold Pose.
  5. Step your right leg back so that your back foot is about a leg length from your front foot. Let your right knee come to the ground (or to your blanket). You may need to adjust the position of your blanket so that it pads your knee.
  6. Your left shin should be vertical or near vertical. If it’s not, adjust the distance between your front foot and back knee.
  7. With your hands on your blocks, lift your torso up to vertical. Actively press your hands into your blocks rather than collapsing into them. This creates an upward rebound that energizes the upper body.
  8. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths.
  9. Step your right foot forward into Uttanasana again. Relax here, breathing into your back.
  10. When you’re ready, step your left leg back and repeat Crescent Lunge on the other side.
Reprinted with permission from Charlotte Bell/Hugger Mugger Yoga Products. 
Charlotte Bell writer

Charlotte Bell began practicing yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. She was certified by B.K.S. Iyengar in 1989 following a trip to Pune. In 1986, she began practicing Insight Meditation with her mentors Pujari and Abhilasha Keays. Her asana classes blend mindfulness with physical movement. Charlotte writes a column for Catalyst Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. She is the author of two books: Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life, and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. She also edits Hugger Mugger Yoga Products’ blog and is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, she plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and the folk sextet Red Rock Rondo whose 2010 PBS music special won two Emmys.

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