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The Best Way to Practice Crescent Lunge Pose

crescent lunge pose

In this post:  If you’re looking for a yoga pose to stretch your hips or relieve low back pain, Crescent lunge pose is perfect. The benefits don’t just stop there, though.

Crescent lunge pose, also known as Anjaneyasana, and I have a love/hate relationship. When I came to yoga, I was looking for therapy for my overworked hip flexors.

At the beginning of my first yoga class, I found the postures to be just okay. Yes, I could feel like they were working muscles and yes, it felt good to my body. Then came Crescent lunge, which greeted me like a slap to the face.

Wake up! it commanded. So I did.

If you have issues with a tight or weak psoas (your main hip flexor muscle),  this is a great posture for you to practice.

There are two popular modifications for Crescent lunge pose, which are also called Anjaneyasana. I’ll describe the most basic, which is Low lunge, first. Next is Runner’s stretch (which can also be called Prakramanasana), and finally, Crescent lunge pose.

In all three poses, if you start to have low back pain, bow forward slightly and lift your rib cage away from your hips. Bring your hands to your hips and feel your pelvis move into a neutral position. Draw your belly button toward your spine to hold everything steady, lower your hips to an appropriate level, and resume your practice.

If you want to learn how to safely practice yoga and Pilates from the comfort of your own home, sign up now for my FREE course

Why You Should Do Crescent Lunge Pose (and Its Variations)

Crescent lunge pose is a wonderfully therapeutic yoga pose. There are many reasons that you can use this pose as self-therapy, but here are just a few:

  • relieve low back pain,
  • strengthen your psoas and piriformis muscles,
  • relieve hip pain,
  • strengthen your knee joint and the muscles around it,
  • stretch the upper back, and 
  • tone and strengthen the upper arms.

Whether you have issues with your upper body, spine, or lower body; Crescent lunge pose is a great way to balance your body.

If you have hip pain, click here to download my FREE digital guide of six easy yoga poses that permanently get rid of hip pain!

How to Do Low Lunge Pose

crescent lunge pose

  1. You can begin on your hands and knees or from a bent position with your fingertips touching the floor. Personally, I find starting from the latter position to be less awkward, so that’s how I’m going to cue this. Begin with your knees bent, fingertips touching the floor on either side of your feet.
  2. As you move, inhale and exhale through your nose when necessary, using yogic breathing
  3. Reach your right leg back quite a distance so that you have a large space between your right and left feet.
  4. Make sure that your legs are running parallel to each other like they are on train tracks, not the same rail of a train track.
  5. Bend your right knee and lower it to the ground. If you are on a hard floor or if you have knee pain, slide a blanket under your knee to give you some cushion. Make sure the right leg is reaching behind you and slide forward of the right knee cap.
  6. Draw your belly button to your spine and lift your upper body.
  7. I like to put my hands on my hips to make sure that my pelvis is in neutral. Frequently, because of my tight hip flexors, it isn’t. To correct the tilt of my pelvis, I lift my rib cage away from my hips, rotate my pelvis to bring it to neutral, re-engage my core muscles, then move back into Low lunge pose.
  8. Keep reaching your belly button toward your spine, and bring bent arms up so that your elbows are in line with your shoulders and your palms face forward. This is called Cactus pose, and it sort of looks like you’re saying that someone made a field goal.
  9. Soften the space in your upper back that is right behind your heart. As that portion of upper thoracic spine moves, so will your cervical spine (neck). The head and neck should not drop behind the body but should instead be a natural extension from the thoracic.
  10. Reach your arms straight toward the ceiling with palms facing each other. Your biceps (upper arms) should be beside your ears. Your hands should be close together as if you are holding a basketball above your head.
  11. Hold this side for 5-10 breaths.
  12. On your last exhale, bring your arms down on either side of the left foot. You can curl your right toes under and lift to a lunge, then step your right foot up to meet your left. If you prefer to stay on your knees, I would recommend you heel/toe your left foot off the mat, bring your left knee beside the right knee, then bring the right foot to the front of the mat between your hands.
  13. Reach the left leg back and do the other side.

How to Do Runner’s Stretch

crescent lunge pose

  1. Begin with your knees bent, fingertips touching the floor on either side of your feet.
  2. As you move, inhale and exhale through your nose when necessary, using yogic breathing
  3. Reach your right leg back quite a distance so that you have a large space between your right and left feet.
  4. Make sure that your legs are running parallel to each other like they are on train tracks, not the same rail of a train track.
  5. Reach through your right heel, like it is reaching for the wall behind you. Take a moment to make sure that your right heel is in a straight line and not falling in or out.
  6. Check to make sure that your left knee is in line with the center of your foot. It’s okay for the knee to come forward toward the second and third toes, but it should not go past the toes. Also, the knee should not drop toward the inside or the outside of the foot.
  7. Feel your adductors (inner thighs) scissor and draw toward and past each other.
  8. Draw the low belly to the spine so you can feel yourself lift off of your left thigh without lifting your fingers from the floor.
  9. As you reach through your right heel, feel yourself reach through your leg, spine, and out through the top of your head. Get yourself aligned, and you can feel energy run through you like a current.
  10. Hold this side for 5-10 breaths.
  11. Keeping everything aligned and active, step the right foot next to the left.
  12. Reach the left leg back and do the second side.

How to Do Crescent Lunge Pose

crescent lunge pose

Crescent lunge pose with my arms in Cactus.

  1. Perform steps 1-9 of Runner’s Stretch.
  2. Draw your belly button to your spine and lift your upper body.
  3. I like to put my hands on my hips to make sure that my pelvis is in neutral. Frequently, because of my tight hip flexors, it isn’t. To correct the tilt of my pelvis, I lift my rib cage away from my hips, rotate my pelvis to bring it to neutral, re-engage my core muscles, then move back into Lunge pose.
  4. Keep reaching your belly button toward your spine, and bring bent arms up so that your elbows are in line with your shoulders and your palms face forward. This is called Cactus pose, and it sort of looks like you’re saying that someone made a field goal.
  5. Soften the space in your upper back that is right behind your heart. As that portion of upper thoracic spine moves, so will your cervical spine (neck). The head and neck should not drop behind the body but should instead be a natural extension from the thoracic.
  6. Reach your arms straight toward the ceiling with palms facing each other. Your biceps (upper arms) should be beside your ears. Your hands should be close together as if you are holding a basketball above your head.
  7. Hold this side for 5-10 breaths.
  8. On your last exhale, bring your arms down on either side of the left foot. Keeping your core engaged, step the right foot up to meet the left.
  9. Reach the left leg back and do the other side.

Crescent Lunge Pose Video

Here is a video of Crescent lunge pose for the visual learners.

Before You Practice Crescent Lunge Pose…

Before you practice Crescent lunge pose, remember that you should never feel low back pain. If your back does start hurting while you’re practicing this pose, take a moment to double-check your form.

  • Bow forward until your low back stops hurting.
  • Put your hands on your hips so you can feel how your pelvis is positioned.
  • Lift your rib cage away from your hips.
  • Draw your belly button toward your spine.
  • Bring your upper body upright, and ensure your pelvis is in neutral.

By following those simple steps, you should be able to avoid pain and enjoy the therapeutic movement from practicing Crescent lunge pose.

If you are interested in learning how to safely practice yoga and Pilates from the comfort of your own home, sign up for my FREE 30-day online course! I’ll teach you the most important poses and exercises to keep your body strong and balanced.

Which version of Anjaneyasana is your favorite? What muscles do you feel working? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi! I'm Sarah, and I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. When I'm not working with clients, I'm researching the best ways to get rid of pain. Do you want to learn how to practice yoga and Pilates safely in your own home? Or, do you want to know all my tips and tricks for pain relief? Join my mailing list and receive free goodies to help you.

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