Crescent Lunge — Anjaneyasana (AHN-jah-nay-AHS-uh-nuh) — is a dynamic standing yoga pose that utilizes and integrates the muscles in your entire body. It stretches and strengthens the lower and upper body, while creating stability and balance. Its name comes from the Sanskrit words “anjaneya” (meaning “praise” or “salutation”) and “asana” (meaning “pose”). Because of this, it is sometimes referred to as “Salutation Pose,” and it is performed many times during Sun Salutation C.
Benefits of Crescent Lunge
Crescent Lunge stretches the legs, groin, and hip flexors, while also opening the front torso, chest, and shoulders. It strengthens and tones the thighs, hips, and butt, while the balancing aspect helps to develop flexible stability. Considered a balance pose, backbend, and heart opener, Crescent Lunge helps the front of the body to expand, which increases energy and reduces fatigue.
Do not practice Crescent Lunge if you are currently experiencing high blood pressure or heart problems. Also, avoid this pose if you have a knee or spinal injury. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Begin in Downward-Facing Dog ( Adho Mukha Svanasana). With an exhalation, step your right foot forward between your hands.
- Bend your front knee to 90 degrees, aligning your knee directly over the heel of your front foot. Your feet should be hip-width apart with both feet facing forward, and your front shin should be perpendicular to the floor.
- Come on to the ball of your back foot, lifting your heel and drawing it forward so it aligns directly over your back toes.
- Lift your back leg strongly, drawing your knee and quadriceps up toward the ceiling. Straighten your back leg completely.
With your back leg strong and active, gently draw your left hip forward as you press your right hip back, squaring your hips so they are parallel to the top edge of your mat.
- If it is too difficult to keep your back leg raised while keeping your toes on the mat, lower your knee to the floor and slide your leg back a few inches. Un-tuck your back toes and rest the top of your back foot on the floor.
- Inhale as you raise your torso to an upright position. Sweep your arms overhead. Draw your tailbone toward the floor. Spin your pinky fingers toward each other, opening your arms so your palms face each other. Gently tilt your head and gaze up at a space between your thumbs.
- Make sure your front shin stays vertical. Widen your stance as needed to make sure that your knee does not move forward past your ankle.
- Tuck your tailbone under and engage the muscles of your abdomen to help stabilize your core.
- Extend up through the crown of your head, lengthening your upper body. Draw your shoulder blades firmly into your upper back.
- Draw your lower front ribs in and down toward your belly — do not let them poke forward.
- Hold for up to one minute. Release your hands back to the mat and step back into Downward Dog. Repeat on the other side.
Modifications & Variations
If you'd like to deepen the pose or lighten the level of exertion, there are simple modifications you can make. Try these changes to find a version of the pose that works best for you right now:
- If the High Lunge version is too difficult, or if you are warming up for your practice, do the Low Lunge version instead. Bring your back knee to the mat and un-tuck your back toes.
- For a deeper stretch in the quadriceps, bend your back knee and draw your toes up to the ceiling. Reach back with the same-side hand, clasping the top of your foot, and draw your heel in toward your buttocks. Keep the length of your upper torso throughout this variation.
- Place your hands on your hips if you have a shoulder injury or if you are still building upper body strength.
- To help improve balance, practice this pose facing a wall and press the big toe of your front foot against the wall. Reach your arms up and slightly forward, resting your fingertips on the wall.
Practicing Crescent Lunge can lengthen and strengthen the whole body, when done in correct alignment. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
One of the principles of yoga is not to seek the fruits of your actions. Practice for its own sake, without regard to success or failure. This is the way to equanimity.
- Build the pose from the ground up. Work on getting the foot and leg placement first. Set your feet, then adjust your legs. Then, align your hips. Finally, lift your torso and extend your arms.
- Place your hands on your hip bones to determine whether they are squared to the front of your mat. Draw the hip of your front leg back, and the opposite hip forward.
- Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor instead of dipping your pelvis forward. This allows for greater length in your lower back.
- Make sure your front knee stays aligned with your front ankle. Do not allow the knee to drift to the left — this can strain the knee joint. Instead, draw it slightly outward toward the baby toe.
- Strongly engage the thigh of your back leg to keep it straight. Shift your back heel forward so your heel is over your toes — this provides a deep stretch for the toes and foot.
- Keep your feet hip-width apart. If they are on one line, it can be very difficult to balance.
If it's difficult to step your front foot directly between your hands from Downward-Facing Dog, here are three things you can try:
- Draw your belly button firmly toward your spine and lift your knee high toward your belly, and then toward your nose before placing your foot down. This requires a lot of core strength.
- If you have long legs or a larger stomach, step your foot to the outside of your same-side hand, then heel-toe it in toward the correct alignment (hip-width distance from your back foot). Lift your same-side hand and place it to the outside of your front foot.
- Step your foot as far forward as possible, then use your same-side hand to help wiggle the foot forward until it is in correct alignment with your hand placement.
Lunge Into the Future
Crescent Lunge can be a powerful way to build strength, balance, and concentration. As you practice this pose on a regular basis, you'll create equanimity in all areas of your life. Finding ease in Crescent Lunge will allow you to establish the qualities of balance, grace, and power, even off the mat!