Side Lunge Pose

Skandasana-StephSchwartz

Side lunge is an aesthetically beautiful pose and a wonderful release for the legs and low back. This pose is sometimes referred to as skandasana.

Philosophy + Origin

Side lunge pose can be a wonderful way to begin to understand the concept of a “moving prayer,” especially when you allow the body to flow freely from one side to the other. While malas (prayer beads) are used in many spiritual practices as a way to help keep the mind engaged, repetitive physical movement can have the same effect. Whether you practice a flowing version of side lunge pose, or use the posture as part of a salutation, give your body and mind enough time to find rhythm and ease so that you can enjoy the benefits of a physical embodiment of prayer and meditation.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Use a block underneath your seat to support your joints.
  • Option to add a bind with your arms around the bent knee and lower back.
  • For a more lunar or restorative version of the posture, allow your upper body to drape toward the ground with the arms relaxed.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Begin standing with a wide stance, toes pointing toward the long side of your mat.
  2. Lengthen the spine and broaden across your collarbones. As you exhale, begin to bring your hands down to the mat, keeping the spine long.
  3. Bend your left knee and allow your hips to shift to the left. Press evenly through the sole of the left foot as you flex your right toes toward the ceiling. Engage your legs actively to safely deepen the stretch.
  4. Option to bring your hands off the floor, bringing them to your heart in anjali mudra (prayer gesture) or to any mudra of your choice.
  5. Hold the pose for several breaths before shifting your weight and flowing to the opposite side.

PREPARATORY POSES:

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

COUNTER POSES:

  • Head to knee pose | Janu sirsasana
  • Cow face pose | Gomukhasana
  • Half lord of the fishes | Ardha matsyendrasana

BENEFITS:

  • Strengthens the lower body.
  • Stretches hamstrings, calves, and groins.
  • Can promote balance and stability.
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Ardha Hanumanasana: Half Front Splits Pose

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Ardha hanumanasana (are-dah hah-new-mahn-AHS-ah-nah) is a big stretch for hamstrings. This pose is more approachable than full hanumanasana and strengthens the muscles needed to practice front splits safely with the correct muscles properly engaged.

Philosophy + Origin

One of the main characters of the Ramayana is Hanuman, the famous monkey god, devotee of Lord Rama, and son of Vayu (the god of wind). He is celebrated in the pose hanumanasana, which physically represents his famous “leap of faith,” taking him across the ocean from India to Sri Lanka. Ardha hanumanasana, the preparatory pose for hanumanasana, can represent the stability and strength needed to make grand, world-changing (or life-changing) gestures. Rather than only focusing on gaining flexibility, practice ardha hanumanasana to create a healthy balance of flexibility and strength. When practicing ardha hanumanasana, remind yourself of the dangers of only being flexible in life; in order to really get where you want to go, you must also be strong and stable.

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