Anjaneyasana or Crescent Pose will test your balance, strength and ability to focus!
Crescent Pose is one of many standing yoga poses that you’re likely to practice in almost any standard flow style yoga class. This pose is closely related to the Warrior family of standing postures, but it has some distinct differences. For example, many new students may confuse Crescent Pose with Warrior I Pose.
However, the back-foot placement is very different between the postures.
You’re most likely to run into Anjaneyasana during the Sun Salutation C flow sequence, but you may also find that instructors can add the posture throughout almost any sequence of flow movements. Regardless of pose placement, this pose will offer a test of balance and lower body strength. It’s a classic yoga posture that for many will be harder than it appears.
Anjaneyasana is the Sanskrit name for this posture. The breakdown for the Sanskrit name is as follows, “Anjaneya” meaning “Praise or Salutation”, and “Asana” meaning “Pose”. Although rare, you may hear some refer to the pose as “Salutation Pose”. However, it’s much more common to hear this pose referred to as “High Lunge”.
As a challenging standing pose, Anjaneyasana is a classic full body posture that offers a wide range of health benefits. This pose will work muscles throughout your entire body and include a stretch for the legs, groin, chest and shoulders. Crescent Pose will also build strength in the legs, back and ankles.
Benefits Of The Pose:
Crescent Pose could be thought of as 3 poses in one since the pose incorporates a heart opener, balance test, and a slight backbend. Plus, the pose keeps you on your feet with your entire body engaged. Obviously, these elements lead to numerous benefits.
Standing postures like Anjaneyasana will always present the chance to strengthen the lower body including the legs, calves, thighs and ankles. Practicing this pose will also help tone the thighs and glutes. Crescent will also offer a good stretch for the hamstrings that could help overall flexibility.
As a heart opener and gentle backbend, this pose will open and stretch the chest. Plus, heart openers and backbends can also help improve back flexibility and improve posture. Improving flexibility can help prevent injuries and make many every day activities easier. It’s a surprise to many, but better posture is also very beneficial to your overall health.
Crescent Pose also creates an opportunity to get mentally focused and perhaps reduce stress. Balance is tested with this pose as you’re forced to balance on the ball of the back foot. Achieving this balance will require sharp focus and physical strength. Some students may also experience a reduction of stress and tension during this pose, especially by stretching the shoulders where much tension tends to reside.
It’s safe to say that as a full body pose, you will feel the effects of Crescent Pose from the shoulders all the way down to your feet. If you’re new to this posture, you should probably expect some soreness as you build your strength and stamina.
Opens The Hips
Stretches The Shoulders
Opens The Chest
Strengthens The Legs & Ankles
Prep & Follow Up Poses:
A variety of poses can be used a preparatory posture for Anjaneyasana. Some of the prep poses could include Chair Pose, Downward Facing Dog Pose, Wide Leggged Forward Fold Pose and an easier version of the pose called Low Lunge.
Follow up poses would include any of the Warrior Family of standing poses, and Chair Pose. It’s common to try the difficult transition from Crescent Pose to Warrior III Pose.
Modifications & Cautions:
Knee and back injuries, heart issues and high blood pressure are all good reasons to avoid this pose. Also avoid this pose before stretching the hamstrings.
You can modify the pose by placing your hands on your hips, this can help balance and protect any pre-existing shoulder injuries.
For a deeper variation, allow the back knee to bend and try sitting deeper into the pose, but make sure to keep your front knee over the ankle.
You can make the pose easier by practicing the Low Lunge version, just allow the back knee to rest on the ground and allow the back toes to un-tuck.
Facing a wall can help balance in this posture by allowing your hands to reach forward and use the wall for balance.
You may also enjoy the twisting versions of this posture.
Keep your feet hips width apart, this will help with balance.
Make sure to keep your front knee over the ankle and prevent it from moving to the side, you should be able to see your big toe.
Draw your shoulders down your back and keep them away from your ears as your reach your hands toward the sky.
Also keep your shoulders stacked over your hips, try not to lean forward.
Use your hands to square your hips, pull the hip on your front leg side back and pull the other hip forward until square.
Pick a stationary object to focus on with your gaze, this will help aid your balance.
Don’t attempt to create too deep of a backbend or sit to deep into the posture.
Lower your back knee and drop into Low Lunge if rest is needed.
We will begin in Downward Facing Dog Pose and then transition to Anjaneyasana.
We will also begin on the right side.
Exhale and step your right foot forward and place it between your hands.
If you can’t move the foot forward in one motion, just take your time and slide it forward slowly, you can use your hand to help move it forward if needed.
After stepping your foot forward, make sure your right knee is over the ankle and that your feet are about a hips width apart.
Lift your back foot and then place the ball of the foot on the ground, keep your back heel over your toes.
Once stable, slowly and strongly straighten your back leg as you lift it upward.
At this point, make sure to square your hips. Pull your right hip back and your left hip forward until squared.
Think of your hips as headlights pointing straight ahead.
Once stable, inhale and slowly lift your upper body up into an upright position.
Lift your arms and hands upward with your hands above your head, face your palms inward.
For a greater challenge, place your hands together and gaze upward at them. If balance is too difficult looking upward, just gaze forward at a fixed object.
Engage your core, double check that your feet are hips width and that your front knee is over the ankle.
Draw your shoulders down your back, extend and lengthen your arms and upper body keeping space between your ears and arms.
If the pose becomes too difficult, lower the back knee to the ground and practice the Low Lunge version. Otherwise, hold the pose for a few breaths.
When ready, lower your hands to the mat and then transition back into Downward Dog.