Pose Breakdown: Anjaneyasana
Anjaneyasana or Low Lunge is a great pose to practice everyday. This is not just a pose for beginners, but for anyone practicing yoga, especially for those who sit all day. Excessive sitting tightens the psoas muscle which in turn can lead to low back pain, groin pain, and sciatica. The iliopsoas muscle is a combination of two major muscle groups, the psoas major and iliacus. The psoas major originates in the thoracic spine at L12, and wraps around the pelvis, linking up with the iliacus and inserting into the head of the femur (front of the hip and groin). It is one of the largest muscles in the body, and is responsible for flexion of the hip. Many times this muscle is overlooked when students complain of low back pain. Low lunge helps stretch this muscle.
To come into this pose, begin on all fours in table pose. Spread your finger wide apart and make sure your shoulders are in line with your wrists. Your hips will be aligned over your knees, with the neck of the feet firmly planted on the mat. From here, bring your right foot up, planting the soul of the foot in between your hands on the mat. Bending into that right knee, keep the left foot elongated behind you, still pressing the neck of the foot into the mat. Your hips should be square to the front of the mat in this position. Once you feel stable, walk your hand up to your right thigh, being mindful that you are not overly hanging in that front knee.
Take a look at your right knee and make sure it is directly over your foot, so that your foot leg and knee create a 90 degree angle. Your knee should be pointing forward tracking over the second and third toe. Connecting to your front foot, press down evenly into all four points of the foot, feeling the arch of your foot slightly lift, stabilizing the ankle so that the knee continues to point forward, and not bow in or out.
Release your sacrum down towards the mat in order to create space in the upper body and to elongate the spine. From here, you can sink a little deeper into that left hip, but again, make sure your knee does not come over your foot. If you feel stable, you can lift your arms above your head, sliding the shoulders down the back and internally rotating the arms so that your hands will face each other.
Take a few breaths here, and when you are ready, bring your hands back down to the mat. Draw your right foot back underneath you in table, and do the other side.
Check out the video below for a complete breakdown of this beneficial pose.