No official Sanskrit name, but it’s sometimes called Ashva Sanchalanasana.
(This pose is often practiced as part of a classic sun salutation series. For brevity, these instructions will start with downward-facing dog rather than go through the whole sun salutation.)
- Begin in downward-facing dog.
- Step the right foot forward and plant it between the hands. Keep the left leg high, left toes pressing down and left heel stretching toward the floor.
- Keeping the left leg straight and balanced, bend deeply into the right knee. Bring your hands to the knee and distribute your weight evenly between your front and back feet.
- Tuck the chin, keeping the neck long, and gaze at an unmoving point in front of you.
- Stay here, or if you feel steady, stretch the arms up straight overhead.
- Engage the abdominal muscles and breathe deeply and evenly.
- To come out of the pose, bring your hands down to the floor and step the right foot back to downward dog.
- Repeat on the other side.
Lunges improve balance, build heat in the body, and build strength in the legs, as well as in the arms when arms are extended. Balancing on the rear foot is good for the foot muscles.
Those with balance problems may want to modify the pose – practice near a wall for stability, or drop the back knee down to the mat for a low lunge instead. Those with serious knee problems may want to avoid this pose. Those with neck injuries can try looking down at the floor instead of straight ahead.
My Experience with High Lunge:
Before coming to East Eagle Yoga, I rarely practiced lunges. The vinyasa-style yoga classes I attended in the past didn’t include lunges in sun salutations, and I almost never did them as part of my home practice. so when I first came to East Eagle, all the lunges were a huge issue for me: my thighs burned, my arms ached, I couldn’t keep my balance and I wobbled all over the place. Coming from a vinyasa-focused practice, I found it difficult to hold poses for a long time in the classical way, and this made lunges even more difficult. Classical sun salutations quickly became my least favorite part of hatha yoga classes at East Eagle.
I’m happy to say now that my experience with lunges is turning around. With continued practice, both at the yoga center and at home, my balance and stamina have improved tremendously. I’ve been able to find a level of comfort in just holding the pose, and now I’m able to push myself further and deepen into the pose. Having some sense of ease in lunges means that my mind can relax too; I can clear my mind better and focus more on the breath (rather than on the discomfort). Lunges still aren’t my favorite, but I can tell that I’m making progress!