This pose is a great preparation for Warrior 1, it is also an intense hip flexor stretch. Crescent lunge allows you to go as deep into the hip-flexor stretch as you feel comfortable. Having your hands overhead also gives you the added benefit of opening the heart and chest – another area that gets tight from lots of computer work. A great way of counteracting the sitting position.
Instructions for Crescent Lunge pose
Begin in Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Savasana).
Inhale: Step your foot forward between your hands. If you need some assistance with this drop your back knee to the floor and use your hand to help you step your foot forwards.
Bend your front knee to 90 degrees or less (ensure you don’t bend your knee more than 90 degrees) and come on to the ball of your back foot.
Lift your back leg, drawing your knee and quadriceps upwards and straighten your back leg. A variation of this pose is to drop your back knee to the floor (if you haven’t already), if you do this you can un-tuck your back toes and rest the top of your back foot on the floor.
Exhale: Stay where you are with your hands on the floor on either side of your front foot, the ball of your back foot on the floor and your back leg lifted (unless you are doing the variation with the back knee on the floor).
Inhale: Raise your body to an upright position and sweep your arms overhead. Draw your tailbone toward the floor. Spin your little fingers toward each other, opening your arms so your palms face each other. Alternatively you can bring your hands to your hips or raise your arms to ‘cactus arms’. If your arms are raised overhead gaze up at a space between your thumbs but be careful not to crush the vertebrae in the back of your neck as you do so.
Ensure your front shin stays vertical, widening your stance as needed to ensure your knee does not move forward past your ankle. Lengthen through the heal of your back foot. Engage the muscles of your abdomen, lift mulha bandha, and lengthen through the sides of your body. Draw your lower front ribs in and down toward your belly.
Lift the crown of your head towards the sky lengthening your upper body and draw your shoulder blades down your back.
Hold for a number of breaths.
Exhale: Bring your hands down either side of your front foot and step back to downward dog
Repeat on the other side.
When to avoid Crescent Lunge
This asana should be avoided if you have:
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems.
- Knee injury
- Spinal injury
How to adapt Crescent Lunge
If this full pose isn’t accessible to you or you find balancing in the full pose a challenge you can drop one knee to the floor resting the top of the back foot on the floor. This can also be a nice variation if you are warming up for your practice.
There are also variations for the arms, you can leave your hands on your hips, bring you arms to ‘cactus arms’ or bring the hands overhead for the full pose.
Benefits of Crescent Lunge
- Stretches the legs, groin, and hip flexors
- Opens the front torso, chest, and shoulder
- Helps the front of the body to expand, which increases energy and reduces fatigue
- Improves balance
- Improves concentration