Although you might be familiar with doing lunges in your every day workouts, the low crescent lunge yoga pose is slightly more complex. Low crescent lunge (or anjaneyasana in Sanskirt) includes both a lunge and a backbend, and as such, it activates your leg muscles, stretches your hips, opens your chest, and challenges your balance.
The low lunge Sanskrit name anjaneyasana references Anjani, the mother of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman, who represents devotion and fearless service. As you step into this particular lunge yoga pose, you can express devotion to your yoga practice, and elicit the courage to go beyond your comfort zone on the mat by sinking deeper into the lunge or going further into the backbend.
But before you can do that, you first need to know how to perform the pose correctly. Follow the step-by-step instructions below to learn how to do low crescent lunge with proper form.
How to Perform Anjaneyasana (Low Crescent Lunge)
Begin downward facing dog with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet a few inches apart. Lift one foot off of the floor, bend the knee and drive it towards your chest, and step the foot in between your hands. Lower the back knee on to the mat, and untuck your toes so the top of your back foot is on the floor.
Getting Into The Pose
Slide your back knee on the ground as far back as is comfortable. Keeping your front leg bent, lift your chest up and raise your arms to the ceiling.
Press your hips forward, and keep your front knee pointing straight forward and in line above your ankle. Square your hips so both hip bones are pointing forward. Engage your core. Lift your sternum to activate a slight back bend, but avoid crunching down into your back. Reach your arms high, and have the palms of the hands facing one another. Keep your shoulders pressed down.
- Ensure that your front knee aligns straight over your ankle.
- Keep your belly button pulled into your back to avoid crunching your spine.
- Avoid overarching your back — only arch as far back as is comfortable, and always keep your abs engaged as you do this.
Make it easier
- Place a block next to both of your hands while in downward facing dog. Once you step forward, put one block under each hand to give you an extra lift and to support your balance before reaching your arms up to the sky.
Make it harder
- Go deeper into low crescent lunge by gazing up to the ceiling to further open your chest.
- Reach your arms back toward the wall behind you, creating an arch in the upper back. As you do this, remember to keep your core engaged, as this will help to protect your lower back.
Benefits of Low Crescent Lunge
If your hips are tight, the low lunge is an excellent yoga pose to stretch them. As you press forward into the lunge, you’ll stretch your hips, groin, psoas, and also your quadriceps. Additionally, this pose is good for opening up the front of your body as you arch your back. Practicing this slight backbend helps with your balance, and it stretches the muscles of your abdominals and lower back. Because of all this, low crescent lunge is often used at the beginning of a class to warm up these muscles for bigger poses in the sun salutations, like Warrior 1.