This is one of those poses that I incorporate into almost every session I teach. The versatility with modification and warmth it adds to the body make it unsurpassed in accessibility. Just about anyone can get into the pose (barring, of course any injuries or preexisting conditions).
Reminder: As with any type of new movement, you should ALWAYS check with your doctor first.
Anjaneyasana (Lunge Pose) is one of the basic poses and an integral part of many sun salutes. It’s also taught quite regularly as a transition…a link between poses in a flow class.
As I mentioned, this asana is ripe for many different modifications . In the photo below, shoulders are soft and I’m adding in a Mudra – Gyan Mudra. This Mudra is very grounding. It helps improve focus/concentration and calms the mind.
Mudras, in case that whole term is new to you, have been in use in the East for thousands of years, particularly in Buddhism. They generally involve specific placement of the hand and/or fingers but sometimes the rest of the body is a part of the Mudra as well. Think about this…when you bring your hands to heart center and say “Namaste” at the end of a yoga class…that is a Mudra. It’s called Anjali Mudra. It’s a connection thought to help move the flow of energy/prana in the body. Mudras are also used for physical ailments. That, however, is a whole other article!
Now, let’s break down this pose so you can add it to your repertoire of yoga poses and deepen the practice. Remember, we are always looking for new space so the longer you hang out in a pose and more regular your practice the more space you find.
Pictured is the low lunge version. You can take it high and you can revolve it by adding in a twist (either low or high) to switch things up. We are going to talk about the low lunge version.
Getting Into the Pose and Diving In.
Find your way into Downward Facing Dog
Step your right foot forward.
You can drop the left knee down and come to the top of the left foot or keep the toes tucked under. If you opt to keep the toes tucked under, it will put you on the tip of the knee cap, especially if the thigh is more perpendicular to the floor. So add a blanket under the knee or come to the top of the foot.
The idea in Anjaneyasana is to get into the psoas and lengthen the front body. You want to be rooting down with the extended leg behind you but through the front hip, not the knee. If you find yourself more on the knee, keep working to extend through the hip. You can slowly, as you practice, keep increasing the length between the legs and if you are on the top of the foot of the extended leg (your left leg in this case), you can safely extend the right knee beyond the right toes, remaining anchored into the four corners of the right foot. Don’t lift the right heel!
Lift the pelvic floor and move navel to the spine. We want the deep core line of the body nice and engaged – Mula Bandha & Uddiyana Bandha. This also protects the low back and keeps you grounded.
In the photo above, I worked with soft shoulders. You can opt to lift the arms up bringing the arms in alignment with the ears and even work to bring the palms together. Either way, you are dropping the shoulder blades down the back and working the sternum toward the sky…all while rooting and grounding with the low body. Hips are square toward the front of your mat. Keep rooting and reaching. On the inhale think of the sternum lifting and on the exhale rooting the low body and especially the front of the left hip to the ground.
In the fullest and deepest expression of the pose, you are not only working the low body but also working a back bend with the upper body. Your psoas will thank you for this!
Here are the benefits you are reaping right now in practicing this pose:
- Good for sciatica
- Stretches the psoas, hip flexors, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings.
- Tones shoulders and arms
- Increases balance
- Stimulates reproductive organs
- Aids in digestion
As always I want to know how it went! Leave a comment below OR if YOU have any tips to share about this pose, go for it!