Anjaneyasana: Monkey Lunge Pose
Anjaneyasana (AHN-jah-nay-AHS-uh-nuh), also known as low lunge or monkey lunge, stretches the hips, gluteus muscles, and quadriceps while improving balance, concentration, and core awareness.
Philosophy and Origin:
The term anjaneya is a matronymic reference to the monkey god Hanuman using his mother’s name, Anjani. Lord Hanuman is a central part of Hindu devotional worship, believed to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The pose resembles a young, divine child (anjaneya), reaching towards the sky and the warmth of the sun, captivated by a glowing fruit in the sky as depicted in the traditional epic.
- Anjaneya: Lord Hanumān, the divine entity of spiritual significance
- Asana: pose
This pose stretches the core, hips, gluteus muscles, and quadriceps. Go slowly and don’t push your body beyond its limits.
- Strengthens the quadriceps and gluteus muscles.
- Stretches the psoas and hips.
- Expands your chest, lungs, and shoulders.
- Develops stamina and endurance in your thighs.
- Improves your balance, concentration, and core awareness.
- Calms the mind.
Mudra: Jnana Mudra
Jnana mudra, the gesture of wisdom, has deep ties to the divine nature of anjanayasana. This mudra is most commonly used for meditation and literally translates to “wisdom sign” or “knowledge gesture.”
Fold your index finger until it touches the base of the thumb. The index forms a circle, but the thumb remains straight out. Gently straighten the other three fingers.
Hanuman Mantra for Success
As this pose is a divine tie-in to Lord Hanuman, wisdom and the power of knowledge and the spirit, the Hanuman Mantra for Success is a perfect pairing for your exercise. Practice this mantra with your pose by repeating the following chant:
Marut nandan namo namah
Kasht bhanjan namo namah
Asur nikandan namo namah
Shri ram dhootam namo namah.
I pay my obedience to “the Son of Wind God”, or Lord Hanumana.
I pay my obedience to Lord Hanumana, who is the destroyer of all kinds of sorrows
I pay my obedience to Lord Hanumana, who is the destroyer of asuras, or demons
I pay my obedience to Lord Hanumana, who is the messenger of Lord Rama
- Downward-facing dog | Adho mukha svanasana
- Wide-legged forward fold | Prasarita padottanasana
- Reclining hero pose | Supta virasana
- Chair pose | Utkatasana
- Warrior I | Virabhadrasana I
- Warrior III | Virabhadrasana III
Contraindications and Cautions:
This pose is a gentle, relaxing exercise, but you should still check with a doctor before performing the pose if you have any of the following conditions:
- High blood pressure.
- Knee injuries.
- Those with shoulder problems should not raise their arms above their head, instead placing their hands on their front thigh.
- Those with neck or spinal injuries should not take the backbend variation, and should instead keep their eye gaze forwards or downwards.
- Place a soft foam block or pillow under the back knee for cushioning.
- If raising the arms overhead is uncomfortable, keep your hands on your front thigh.
- If looking up is uncomfortable, keep your gaze down or straight forward.
- To challenge your balance, try this pose with the eyes closed.
- To improve balance, face a wall and press your big toe of the front foot against the wall.
- Start in downward-facing dog. On an exhale, step your right foot forward near your right thumb. Stack your right knee over your right ankle. Lower your left knee to the floor.
- Inhale to reach your arms overhead, chest and head reaching upward. Face your palms toward one another and soften your shoulders down.
- Draw your tailbone done towards the earth, lengthening your lower back and engaging your core muscles.
- Stay here or lift your chest and gaze.
- To release, place your hands down on the mat and step back to down dog. Repeat on the other side.
Parsvottanasana: Intense Side Stretch Pose
From lengthening the spine to stretching the legs to calming the mind, there’s a little bit of everything in parsvottanasana (parsh-voh-tahn-AHS-ah-nah) Also known as intense side stretch pose or pyramid pose, this shape is helpful for finding balance while stretching hamstrings.
Parsvottanasana requires a combination of flexibility, strength, and patience. With the help of props such as blocks or a wall, the\is pose becomes accessible for everyone.
- Blocks: Place hands on blocks to help keep the torso long.
- Wall: Place hands on a wall in front of you to work on strengthening the muscles of the back.
- Heart opening variation: Take the hands in reverse prayer position behind the back to stretch and open your shoulders and chest while also challenging your balance. If reverse prayer isn’t accessible, you can still bring the arms behind the back, reaching for opposite elbows instead.
- Adjust your stance: If the back heel is lifted off of the floor, shorten the stance so you can push through the heel to activate the back leg. For more stability, widen your stance.