Crescent Lunge Pose, Anjaneyasana for Strong Back and Thighs
The Crescent Lunge Pose or Anjaneyasana is also known as Crescent Moon Pose. It is the best pose to do if you spend a lot of time sitting. It is both a low lunge as well as an intense backbend yoga pose. Performing backbends helps to warm the system, increase energy, and is invigorating. They bring flexibility to our central axis of support and strengthen weak back muscles.
Our lives are dominated by sitting, driving, housework and working at a desk, mostly bending forward. Backbends provide the counterpose for this constant forward bending throughout the day. Backbends increase determination and willpower. Doing the standing and kneeling backbends makes us extend backward into the unknown and helps us to confront our fears when life presents us with an unknown quantity. Backbends open the chest promoting better breathing and expands the heart center.
The Sanskrit word 'Anjaneya' is another name for a Hindu deity Hanuman who was a great devotee of a Hindu God Rama. Anjaneyasana is the pose he is sometimes depicted in when praying to Rama.
Benefits of Crescent Lunge Pose or Anjaneyasana
There are many benefits to doing the Crescent Lunge Pose or Anjaneyasana such as:
- stretches the muscles at the front of the thighs
- stretches the deep iliopsoas muscle which is tight in many people
- tones the kidneys and liver
- lengthens the hip flexors
- relieves lower back pain
- relieves anxiety and tension
- increasing energy and mental clarity
- helps improve balance
- relieves sciatica
Poses done from a kneeling position strengthen the thighs and stretch the spine. Remember to align your body so that your spine is elongated, be aware of your legs, upper torso, back, shoulders and neck.
Warm Up Lunge Poses
Tips to do Crescent Lunge or Anjaneyasana
How to do Crescent Lunge Pose or Anjaneyasana
Being an intense backbend yoga pose it is a good idea to do a few preparatory yoga poses such as the Locust Pose, Cobra Pose, Bow Pose and Reclining Hero Pose. The steps to coming into the final position of Anjaneyasana are:
RIGHT LEG POSITION
- begin in 'table position' or Cat pose with your arms under your shoulders and your knees under your hips
- inhale, move your right foot between both hands, then slide it slightly ahead of your hands
- exhale and bend your right knee to move both hips forward until your knee is fully bent without creating pain in the knee
- make sure right knee is bent so that the right thigh is parallel to the floor
- slide your foot forward so your shinbone is straight. Make sure your knee is directly over your ankle
- keep your palms flat on the floor or make two fists and rest on your knuckles.
- Hang your head forward
LEFT LEG POSITION
- extend through the front of the left leg
- stretch from the hip down to the knee
- extend from the knee to the ankle, then along the front of the foot through to the tips of the toes
- raise the torso and place hands on the right knee
- take the lunge deeper as you bend more into the right knee, so your feel the stretch in the front left thigh
- raise both arms above the head, stretching all the way through to the fingers as you lift the chest
- have the intensity of the backbend comfortable enough so that you can lengthen the tailbone down toward the floor to increase the stretch on the front of the left thigh.
- Let the hips drop down another notch
- increase your backward bend to your personal maximum
- consciously bring the curve of the spine higher up into the middle back as you gracefully extend the arms back overhead and press your chest forward and up.
- Have your palms facing each other, or, if it doesn't create tightness in the neck or shoulders, press your palms together.
- Turn your face upwards and direct your gaze upward.
- Stay in the position for a few breaths, enjoying the crescent shape you are in
- Exhale, release the hands back to the floor to come onto all fours.
- Repeat on the other side.
Counterpose: Relax in Child Pose or balasana
The Crescent Moon Pose or Crescent Lunge Pose being an intense backbend it might not be possible to achieve the final position when you first do it. It is a good idea to lighten the pose by keeping the fingertips beside the front foot or on the front knee and follow the same instructions for backbending.
Another option is to Lunge less deeply into the front knee. Placing a pad under the back knee if necessary.
Some of the other backbend yoga poses are the Camel Pose, Bow Pose, Reclining Hero Pose and Cobra Pose.
Sushma Webber writes content for both web and print media. She has worked as a volunteer in many not-for-profit organizations. She is interested in creating a balance in life between the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects. She is interested in mindful awareness practices, Zen practices and translating these in daily life at work in front of the computer and during various activities of her life.
Resources for Further Practice
- Yoga Poses for Legs
Our legs are the most important parts of the body. They support our body weight, help us walk, run, swim, stand and be active in our lives. Yoga is a great way to maintain muscle tone of the legs.
- How to Improve Flexibility of Tight Hamstrings with ...
Did you know that tight hamstrings can cause many injuries, poor posture, inhibit movement, and back pain? Learn how to loosen your hamstrings with yoga and improve performance in sports and daily life.
- Warrior I Yoga Pose, Virabhadrasana I
Warrior-I or Virabhadrasana-I yoga pose and its other two variations are excellent for strengthening the legs and spine. Learn how to do the Warrior I Pose and improve your concentration and balance.
- Yoga Poses for Hips
The hips and buttocks bear the weight or the human body and determine its balance. It is important to strengthen and ensure good muscle tone for easy movement and flexibility in daily life. Learn about some of the yoga poses that can benefit the hip