How to do the Anjaneyasana pose
- Begin in downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana).
- Bend your right knee and step your right foot between your hands. Plant your foot directly below your knee, so that your calf is perpendicular to the floor.
- Drop your left knee to the mat. Untuck your toes and press the top of your left foot into the mat for stability. If you need to widen your stance to feel a stretch through your inner thighs, slide your left leg back. Keep your right knee over your ankle.
- Inhale and lift your upper body upright. As you come up, sweep your arms in front of you or out to your sides. Extend them upwards, next to your ears. Face your palms inwards.
- Avoid lower back compression by drawing your tailbone towards your navel. Maintain this pelvic tilt throughout the pose.
- Look upwards. Gently bend backwards, keeping your arms next to your ears. Elongate the arms by pointing the pinkies towards the sky.
- Breath and hold the pose.
- Exhale and bring your arms back to the mat. Curl the toes of your left foot under and lift the knee. Step your right leg back into downward facing dog. Repeat the pose on the opposite side.
Modifications and Props
Pad your knee with a folded mat or blanket. If the pose strains your back knee, double up the mat under your knee before you begin or place a folded blanket under your knee.
Drop your hands to the mat to deepen the backbend. Instead of raising your arms above your head in step four (above), release them to your sides as you lift up. As you lean back in step six, drop your hands back and towards the mat.
Equestrian Pose (Ashwa Sanchalanasana). When you drop your left knee to the mat in step three (above), keep the toes of your left foot tucked. Do not slide your left leg back. Bend your knee so that it juts out over your ankle. Instead of raising your arms above your head in step four (above), release them to your sides or rest them on your knee as you lift up. Exhale and drop your hips towards the mat. This variation is a powerful inner thigh stretch that prepares the body for forward split (hanumanasana).
Low lunge is an integral part of the moon salutation (surya chandrasana) sequence. Begin moon salutation in mountain pose (tadasana). Inhale. Exhale and bend forward into standing forward fold (uttanasana).
Inhale. Transition from standing forward fold into low lunge by bending your left knee as you step your right foot backwards. Immediately transition into step three (above) using opposite legs. Move through the pose in one breath, skipping step seven.
Exhale into downward facing dog. Hold your breath through salute with eight points (ashtanga namaskara) or chaturanga. Inhale into upward facing dog (urdhva mukha svanasana) or cobra pose (bhujangasana). Exhale into downward facing dog.
Inhale into low lunge. Perform steps one through six (above). Then, exhale and step the left foot to the right for standing forward bend. Inhale and come up into mountain pose.
Quadriceps. The quadriceps muscles cover the front and sides of the femur, making up much of the muscle mass of the thighs. The quads stabilize and allow extension of the knee joint. Low lunge builds strength in the quads, which engage when the legs are bent.
Gluteal muscles. The gluteal muscle group includes the three buttocks muscles: the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. Low lunge engages the gluteus maximus for a toned bottom.
Hamstring muscles. The three hamstring muscles – the semitendinosus, the semimembranosus, and the biceps femoris – run along the back of the thigh. They extend the hip, flex the knee, and rotate the lower leg. The resistance you feel in the back of your thighs in low lunge is your hamstring muscles stretching.
Hip flexors. The hip flexors are a large group of muscles located deep in the thighs, hips, and buttocks. They connect the leg, pelvis, and abdomen and allow you to lift your upper leg towards your body or bend your body over your upper leg. Sitting for long periods of time weakens the hip flexors, making it difficult to lift the upper legs and bend over. Low lunge strengthens the iliopsoas, the strong hip flexor in the inner hip.
Triceps brachii. The triceps brachii is the large muscle on the back of the upper arm responsible for straightening the arm. Push exercises, like planks and push-ups, build tricep bulk. Extending the arm, as in low lunge, stretches the tricep muscles, making them longer and more supple.
Pectoral muscles. The pectoralis major and minor connect the front walls of the chest with the upper arms and shoulders. These muscles draw the arms towards the body. Keeping the arms close together (on either sides of the ears) in low lunge strengthens the pectoralis major.
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