How to Do Low Side Lunge in Yoga
Low Side Lunge is a dynamic standing yoga pose that tones the entire body, particularly the thighs. It stretches and strengthens the lower body, while also creating stability and balance. This hip-opening posture combines the benefits of Low Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana), Extended Side Angle Pose (Parsvakonasana), and Chair Pose (Utkatasana). It is sometimes used as a transitional pose, but it can also be practiced on its own to build strength and stamina throughout the whole body.
Benefits of Low Side Lunge
Low Side Lunge strengthens and tones the thighs, ankles, knees, butt, and hips. It stretches the hips, calves, Achilles tendons, hamstrings, and groins. This pose also relieves stiffness in the shoulders and the back. Holding this pose for several breaths increases the heart rate, stimulating the circulatory and metabolic systems. It also improves stamina, and its balancing aspect develops flexible stability.
Do not practice Low Side Lunge if you are currently experiencing high blood pressure or heart problems. Also avoid this pose if you have a knee, hip, or spinal injury. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Begin standing at the top of your mat. Bend your knees, fold forward, and place your hands on the mat. Then step your left foot to the back of the mat.
- Align your right knee over the heel of your right foot.
- Lower your left knee to the floor and slide your leg back a few inches. Un-tuck your left foot’s toes and rest the top of your foot on the floor.
- Keep your fingertips on the mat and gaze between your hands. This is Low Crescent Lunge.
- On an inhalation, move both hands to the inside of your right foot on the floor. Rotate your right foot and leg to face forward, keeping your knee bent. Your chest, shoulders, torso, and toes should all be pointing in the same direction.
- Exhaling, turn your left toes forward, keeping your left leg extended and your hands on the floor. If that is too deep of a squat for you, rest your hands gently on your right thigh, instead.
- Press through the outer edge of your left foot and keep your left leg fully extended. Sink your hips lower so your right thigh comes parallel to the floor.
- Hold for up to one minute.
- On an inhalation, turn your toes so they once again point to the top of your mat. Place your hands on each side of your right foot and bring your left knee to the mat, coming into Low Crescent Lunge.
- Exhale as you step your left foot forward to the top of your mat. Then inhale as you lift your torso, coming to a full standing position. Repeat on the other side for the same amount of time.
Modifications & Variations
Practicing Low Side Lunge will strengthen and stretch your entire lower body. This pose is a good way to prepare for a deeper yoga practice, but it can sometimes be difficult for beginners to find balance and correct alignment. Try these simple modifications to find a variation of the pose that works for you:
- For a deeper stretch in your hips and your extended leg, turn your toes so they point in the direction of whichever leg is extended (for example, if your left leg is extended, point your toes to the left). Then lift your toes and flex your foot, resting your heel on the mat. Reach out through your heel as you hold the lunge.
- If your fingertips don't reach the floor, you can rest your hands on yoga blocks, or gently press your hands along the thigh of your bent leg.
- If your hips are very tight, shorten your stance and straighten your front leg to a degree that is comfortable as you work on gaining flexibility.
- If your hips are very flexible, make sure your front shin stays vertical. Widen your stance as needed to make sure that your knee does not move forward past your ankle.
Low Side Lunge can increase stamina and strength when done in correct alignment. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Build the pose from the ground up. Work on getting the foot and leg placements first. Set your feet, and then adjust your legs. Then align your hips and torso.
- Make sure your bent knee stays aligned with the same-side heel. Do not allow the knee to drift inward toward your extended leg or to push forward toward your toes — this can strain the knee joint. Instead, draw it slightly outward toward the baby toe.
- Strongly engage the thigh of your extended leg to keep it straight.
- Keep the outer edge of your extended foot pressing firmly into the mat. Try to keep your extended foot’s baby toe on the mat.
- Deepen the pose by sinking your hips lower, instead of dropping your torso forward. If you need to, slide the extended leg further out to the side. This will allow your bent leg’s thigh to come parallel to the floor.
Low Side Lunge can be a great way to build strength, balance, and coordination. As you practice stretching your hips and strengthening your legs, you'll find more power and flexibility in all areas of your life!