Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana

English: Low Lunge or Runner's Lunge

Level: Beginner

Position: Standing

Type: Balance

Muscles:

  • Lower Back
  • Upper Back
  • Hamstrings
  • Hips
  • Neck
  • Back

Chakras:

  • Sacral Chakra (Swadisthana Chakra)
  • Root Chakra (Muladhara Chakra)

Strength and Stretch Benefits of Low Lunge

Lengthened Leg: Active stretch of quadriceps, passive stretch of hip flexors, strengthen ankle

Bent Leg: Strengthen quadriceps

To Get into This Pose:

  1. Begin in Uttanasana (standing forward fold)
  2. Inhale, stepping the right leg back
  3. Walk the right foot back until the left knee is directly over the ankle
  4. Ground down through the balls of the feet
  5. Hands frame the front foot, fingertips touching the mat (not weight-bearing)
  6. Looking up, roll the shoulders away from the ears
  7. Engage the core
  8. Elongate the spine from the tailbone through the top of the head

Modifications

1. Redistribute the Weight to Your Hands

Bear some of your weight on your fingertips (or your hands if your hip flexors and quads are flexible enough to allow you to place your palm on the floor)

Purpose: Relieve the quads and back

3. Use a Chair

Place a chair under the thigh of the front leg.

Purpose: Takes the strength component out of the pose, adds active stretch to hamstring of the front leg

4. Back Knee Down

If your quads are weak, tired, or sore, another modification you can make is to allow the back knee to come to the floor. You can un-tuck your toes if you choose, changing the placement of weight on the knee.

Purpose: Relieve the quads, hip flexors, and back

Variations- Strength

1. Arms Extended Back

Reach your arms back, alongside the body, engaging the triceps, squeezing the shoulder blades together, opening the chest, torso hovering over the front thigh.

Purpose: Increase the load for strength training the front Quadriceps; strengthens the Triceps, Rhomboids, Erector Spinae, Abdominals

2. Arms Extended Forward

Reach the arms up in line with the body, palms facing one another, torso hovering over the front thigh.

Purpose: Increase the load for strength training the front Quadriceps. Strengthens the Biceps and Triceps, Erector Spinae, Abdominals, Shoulders: Serratus Anterior, Anterior Deltoids, Abdominals

3. Arms Extended Dynamic Movement

Combine forward and backward arm extension. Inhale, reach arms forward, exhale reach arms back. Repeat 2x.

Purpose: Increase the load for strength training the front Quadriceps. Strengthens the Biceps and Triceps, Rhomboids, Erector Spinae, Abdmoninals, Shoulders: Serratus Anterior, Anterior Deltoids, Abdominals

4. Airplane Arms

Reach the arms out into a "T," torso hovering over the front thigh

Purpose: Increase the load for strength training the front Quadriceps. Strengthens the Biceps and Triceps, Shoulders: Rhomboids, Posterior Deltoids, Abdominals

5. With a Twist

From lunge, bring hands to heart center. Twist toward the front leg, bringing the elbow to the knee.

Purpose: Strengthens and stretches the core- the oblique and spinal extensors on the inner side of the twist are strengthened while the oblique and spinal extensors on the outside are lengthened. Twists are also believed to aid in digestion.

Variations- Stretch

1. Bent Back Knee

Allow the back knee to come to the floor, untuck the toes. Bend the back knee, bringing your foot toward your butt. Place the same-side hand on the floor on the inside of the foot for balance. Reach back with the opposite hand to hold the instep of the foot, twisting away from the bent leg. Use your arm to pull the foot closer to your butt.

Modify: If reaching for the foot it too intense, just raise the foot off the floor as far as you can without holding it with your hand

Purpose: This increases the stretch of the quads of the back leg. It also stretches the anterior deltoid of the arm holding the foot.

2. Bent Back Knee & Twist

Allow the back knee to come to the floor, untuck the toes. Bend the back knee, bringing your foot toward your butt. Place the opposite hand on the floor for balance. Reach back with the same-side hand to hold the instep of the foot, twisting toward the bent leg. Use your arm to pull the foot closer to your butt.

Purpose: This increases the stretch of the quads of the back leg. It also stretches the anterior deltoid of the arm holding the foot.

3. Knee Down & Lean Forward

Allow the back knee to come to the floor. Frame out the front foot with the hands, putting weight into them. Lean forward, bringing the knee beyond the ankle. (It's okay to bring the knee beyond the toes when you are supporting your weight on your hands.)

Purpose: Intensify the stretch of the hip flexors and quads of the back leg

Modify: How far forward you bring the knee will change the intensity of the stretch

Intensify: Combine this variation with one of the first 2 stretch variations

4. With a Twist- Modified

From lunge, bring hands to heart center. Twist toward the front leg, bringing the elbow to the knee.

Purpose: Strengthens and stretches the core- the oblique and spinal extensors on the inner side of the twist are strengthened while the oblique and spinal extensors on the outside are lengthened. Twists are also believed to aid in digestion.

Modify: Bring the back knee down to the ground, untuck the toes