Although this pose is quite popular in most yoga classes, the high lunge does not have an official Sanskrit name. Some refer to it as Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana, while others leave out the word “utthita,” which means raised in English. By itself, “ashwa sanchalanasana” can be translated to mean equestrian pose or riding posture.
Just as it has several Sanskrit names, high lunge also has many variations. To practice this pose with a licensed yoga teacher, check out our yoga class schedules by location. If you have any sort of knee injury, we especially recommend that you consult a practitioner before performing high lunge.
Getting Into High Lunge:
Begin in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog). Inhale and step your right foot forward between your hands, or use your hand to inch it up. Keep your left foot toward the back edge of your mat, with the ball of the foot on the floor.
Take a stance so your right knee can form a right angle: knee over ankle, shin perpendicular to the floor. Try to keep your right thigh parallel to the floor, but, if your right groin is too stiff, you can allow your thigh to sink toward the floor. Keep your hips squared. Anchor the left (back) heel to the floor by lifting the inner left groin deep into the pelvis.
Now, exhale and lay the right side of your torso on your right thigh (or bring it as close as you can get it). Lengthen your torso forward, stretching the spine. Make sure you are distributing your weight evenly on your right foot, not too much on the heel or toes. You should be able to feel the hamstring engage as well as the quad.
Press your fingertips or palms into the floor (shoulder-width apart). Breathe deeply and hold for as long as is comfortable. Look forward as you hold, or down at the floor if you have neck problems. When you are ready to release, exhale and step your right foot back beside the left, coming into Downward Dog once again. Repeat with your left foot forward.
Benefits of High Lunge:
- Opens your groins and hips
- Stretches and tones your legs, especially thighs
- Strengthens your knees, ankles and waist
- Stimulates abdominals organs
- Increases stamina and lung capacity
- Lengthens the spine, thereby stretching the chest
- Therapeutic for indigestion, constipation, sciatica