A common pose in yoga is high lunge. There is no Sanskrit name for this asana. You will find that this is a pose that is regularly used in Sun Salutations. Lunges are used in traditional exercise for strength in the lower body. In yoga it is no exception. The pose also helps with flexibility and balance as well.
Benefits to this pose include strengthening the legs, gluts and arms while stretching the groins, hip flexors and spine. The pose can be therapeutic for indigestion, sciatica and constipation. Use caution in this pose if you have any serious knee injuries.
If you are coming into this pose in an sun salutation you will most likely be starting from a standing forward fold. Step your right foot back and find a wide stance that will allow you to sink deep with out compromising your knee alignment. Press firmly into the ball of the left foot and start with a modification by dropping your right knee to the floor. The top of your right foot will be on the mat. Start to draw your arms up off the floor and reach towards the sky. It is necessary to engage the core by drawing your tailbone down away from the low back and left the belly up and in for a few reason. First, this stabilizes the pelvis and draws length into the low back. The core is the center of your power and strength. Bringing awareness to this area not only will give you power in the pose but more stability as well. Lastly core engagement prevents you from dumping into your left hip. This allows for greater energy flow.
Begin to sink your hips to the earth but lift away through the arms and reach all the way through the fingertips. Be sure to release your shoulders away from the ears to once again create space, release tension and allow for greater energy flow. If you struggle with shoulder issues it is perfectly fine to keep your hands in a prayer position (namaste’) at the heart center. Watch that when you sink into the pose that you keep the integrity of the left knee joint by making sure it aligns over the ankle and doesn’t go beyond to avoid hyperextension. A common mistake is to allow the knee your placing weight on (in this instance the right knee) to be right underneath the hip. You want to allow the right hip to move forward beyond the knee so you truly get the benefit of opening the hip flexor.
Deepening the Pose
When you feel stability and alignment in the modification, begin to draw your right knee off the floor and come to the toes. This will present a greater balance challenge and will increase the strength of the pose. Press back through the right heel to increase space in the hip flexor and lift the right thigh to add strength in the leg, still maintaining the knee alignment by keeping the left knee over the ankle. In a sun salutation you would only be here for one breath. By itself, you can hold for several breaths. Focus on sinking to the earth and reaching up through the fingertips to create dynamic tension and energy flow.
Once you’re ready to move on, bring your hands down to either side of the front foot and step back to plank or child’s pose.
High lunge is a great way to open the hip flexor and to work on balance.