Anjaneyasna (Crescent Lunge)
How to do it
There are several ways to get into this pose. Two of the most common ones are stepping into it from standing, and stepping into it from Downward facing dog. For most people, getting into the lunge position from standing will be more accessible.
Begin in standing position with your feet hip distance apart, arms down.
Inhale: Step your right foot back, bend your left knee and raise your arms up. Keep you back heel raised.
Exhale: Step your right foot forward, straighten your left leg and lower your arms.
Continue, alternating sides. After readapting the movement several times, stay in the pose.
Breathing in Anjaneyasana
Exhale: Gradually contract your abdomen from the pubic bone toward the navel.
Inhale: Lift your chest forward and up, away from your hips WHILE MAINTAINING a partial abdominal contraction (the lower part of the abdomen will remain engaged).
Exhale: Reengage your abdomen from the bottom to the top, keeping your lower body stable. Be sure that your front knee remains aligned over your ankle and your back leg is straight.
Continue to breathe like that, emphasizing the length of the spine on the inhale and abdominal support on the exhale.
Anjaneyasana: Pull down strengthens the latissimus dorsi muscles and helps to stretch the neck. When you pull your arms down, imagine that you are pulling them against resistance – this will intensify the work and increase the strengthening effect.
Anjaneyasana: Arms back provides an intense stretch in the chest and shoulders. You can experiment with keeping your fingers interlaced behind you (which will keep your shoulders internally rotated), or turning the elbow creases outward (which will rotate your shoulders externally). The second version is less stressful for the shoulders and is accessible to most students. Whichever option you choose, be sure to widen your collar bones.
One arm raise
Anjaneyasana: One arm raise emphasizes the stretch on one side of the body, especially the hip flexors and thigh. However, be sure to lift both sides of your chest up evenly to avoid feeling topsided and losing your balance.
Anjaneyasana: Open-close works great for releasing tension in the upper back and neck. It’s one of the best poses to do after hours of computer work. In addition to loosening up the upper back and neck, it helps you stretch your hip flexors and facilities deeper breathing.
Anjaneyasana: Fingers interlaced provides an intense stretch in the chest, shoulders and both sides of the torso. It can be challenging for students with tight shoulders; they can remedy it by bending their elbows out to the sides and touching their wrists to their heads. Our main goal is to create a sensation of upward lift by moving the ribcage upwards away from the pelvis.
Anjaneyasana: Kneel lift is a great strengthening move for the hips. It is also an excellent diagnostic tool to clearly illustrate to students the difference between their right and left hip strength. This is a useful move for students who have trouble transitioning down to the ground and up. At the beginning they will need to have a wall or chair handy for support.
Marching in place
Anajaneyasana: Marching in place works great for strengthening the supporting hip and alternatively contracting and stretching the hip flexors and glutes of the moving leg to relieve tension there. It is also great for balance training.
Anjaneyasana: Knee-hand press works great for engaging the outer hip. Be sure to keep your front knee over the ankle at all times as you press your front knee and hand on the same side into each other. This type of passive resistance is great for building hip strength, especially in hip abductors.
Anjaneyasana + Parsvottanasana combo is a strong pose that alternatively engages and stretches the back surface of the body, particularly the lower back, upper back and hamstrings. Because of the intensity of the pose, we need to be sure that the student’s lower back is ready for this challenge. This movement can also be problematic for sensitive sacrums. When in doubt, it is best to avoid it or modify it significantly by placing the hands on the chair in Parsvottanasana.