How to Do Crescent Lunge Twist in Yoga
Crescent Lunge — Anjaneyasana (AHN-jah-nay-AHS-uh-nuh) — is a powerful standing yoga pose that stretches and flexes your entire body. This variation, with a twist, increases the challenge of balancing, while also stretching out the spine, shoulders, and chest. Its Sanskrit name, Parivrtta Anjaneyasana (PAHR-ee-VREE-tah AHN-jah-nay-AHS-uh-nuh) , comes from three words:
- “Parivrtta” — meaning “revolved”
- “Anjaneya” — meaning “praise” or “salutation”
- “Asana” — meaning “pose”
It commonly goes by various English names, including “Revolving Crescent Lunge,” “Warrior Twist,” “Twisting Lunge,” “Prayer Twist,” and others. But whatever it is referred to in English is secondary to the full body benefits you’ll gain from practicing this pose!
Benefits of Crescent Lunge Twist
Parivrtta Anjaneyasana is a challenging balance posture that creates stability throughout the entire body. Twisting the torso applies pressure to your internal organs, toning them and increasing their abilities to detoxify your body! After twisting, your torso and digestive organs are flushed with oxygen-rich blood, which helps to remove toxins while improving digestion. This pose also stretches and tones the legs, hips, and butt; and opens the chest, shoulders, and arms. It improves balance and increases both energy and confidence.
When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out — because that's what's inside. When you are squeezed, what comes out is what is inside.
Do not practice Crescent Lunge Twist if you are currently experiencing high blood pressure or heart problems, or if you have a knee or spinal injury. Women who are pregnant should also avoid this pose. 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 knee and draw your quadriceps up toward the ceiling. Straighten your back leg completely. Keep the ball of your back foot firmly on the ground.
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, 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. This is Crescent Lunge.
- Lower your arms and bring your palms together in prayer position at your chest.
- Exhaling, twist your torso to the right. Bring your left elbow to the outside of your right thigh.
- Press your upper left arm against your thigh and draw your right shoulder blade into your back to turn your chest to the right.
- To deepen the pose, extend both arms and reach your right fingertips to the sky and your left fingertips to the mat. You can also place your left hand on a block.
- Turn your gaze to the sky. If your arms are extended, gaze at your top thumb.
- 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.
- Keep your extended leg straight, strong, and lifting.
- Lengthen your spine even further on your inhalations and twist even deeper on your exhalations. Stack your top shoulder above your bottom shoulder. Draw your thumbs to your heart, and heart toward your thumbs.
- Hold for up to one minute. Inhale as you return to center, reaching both arms overhead. Exhaling, release your hands back to the mat and step back into Downward Dog. Repeat on the other side.
Modifications & Variations
Crescent Lunge Twist will work every muscle in your body when practiced correctly! 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, practice the Low Lunge version instead. Bring your back knee to the mat and un-tuck your back toes.
- To help improve balance, practice this pose facing a wall, with the big toe of your front foot pressing against the wall. Reach your arms up and slightly forward, resting your fingertips on the wall. Once you feel balanced, come into the twist.
- If you have shoulder pain in this pose, bring your palms together in prayer position, resting your thumbs at your sternum. Press firmly across your palms and broaden across your collarbones. Twist only as far as your shoulders and spine will allow without pain.
- If it hurts your neck to gaze upward, turn your gaze to the floor, instead.
- If your spine and shoulders are not flexible, or if you have a larger stomach or chest, it can be difficult to place your fingertips on the floor to the outside of your opposite foot. Instead, place a block to the outside of that foot and rest your bottom hand there. Alternatively, you can bring your fingertips to the outside of your same-side foot, or on a block next to the same-side foot.
Practicing Crescent Lunge Twist can lengthen and strengthen the whole body, rejuvenating your energy in no time! Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Build the pose from the ground up. Work on getting the foot and leg placement first. Set your feet, then adjust your legs and align your hips. Then, lift your torso and extend your arms. Finally, come into the twist.
- Before coming into the twist, place your hands on your hip bones to determine whether your hips 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 out 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 to the toes and foot.
- Keep your feet hip-width apart. If they are on one line, it can be very difficult to balance.
Revolve to Evolve
Practicing Crescent Lunge Twist is a great way to add variety to your practice while strengthening, toning, stretching, and detoxifying your whole body! Flowing through the twist challenges and enhances your balance and focus, which increases confidence. Take your yoga practice to a new level with this pose!