Pose of the Season at Winter Solstice – Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge) by Louise Burton
After the darkest night and the shortest day, we feel gratitude now for the return of the Sun to grace Earth with its light and life-giving warmth.
As we celebrate with fire and joy the longer days to come and the fresh start that awaits us, I would like to offer a posture which resonates with the Winter Solstice and links with two of the other asanas I have presented this year. These connected poses are:
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Dog Head Down) for the Summer Solstice
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) for the Autumn Equinox.
Anjaneyasana works well within a varied Sun Salutation sequence and feels a natural move from Adho Mukha Svanasana. It continues the work of Virabhadrasana II while offering a different way of practising and is good preparation work for the stronger and more demanding asana of Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I) as it stretches the front thighs and groins and encourages a full lift in the pelvis, chest and arms
- Improves balance, stability and core strength
- Opens the chest and rib cage
- Lengthens the spine
- Tones abdominal muscles and organs
- Works the shoulders and arms
- Strengthens the quadriceps
- Stretches the front thighs and groin
- Neck problems: Look ahead rather than upwards
- High blood pressure: keep the arms down – try hands on hips or in Namaskar instead
- Back problems: Ensure the trunk is lifted, and stop if there is any pain
- Pregnancy: This practice may help keep the core strong during pregnancy and improve muscle tone for delivery, but please be guided by your doctor or midwife
- From Adho Mukha Svanasana, bend the knees and let the heels come off the ground
- Look ahead and take a good step forward with your left (or right) foot. Bring the back knee to the floor, toes tucked under. Take the hands on to the hips.
- Take a moment to get your balance. Widen the posture until you feel a stretch in the back thigh and groin.Ensure the front knee is above the heel (this instruction is also important in Warrior II and Warrior I)
- Stretch the arms up beside your ears, palms facing each other. Don’t let the shoulders lift
- Lift the pelvis and frontal hip bones and lengthen the spine upwards. Try to take the dorsal spine in and open the chest more. Feel a stretch in the abdominals and whole front body
- Look up beyond your fingertips if there is no strain in the neck
- Breathe evenly, face relaxed, feeling the work in the legs and trunk and the expansive, appreciative quality of a Warrior’s Salute to the Sun
- Lower the arms after some moments and place the palms down either side of the front foot. Bend the knees and step the front leg back into a good Adho Mukha Svanasana. Hold for a breath or two before repeating on the opposite side
Work and Care in the Practice:
- Ensure the feet are wide enough apart to keep the front shin bone approximately perpendicular to the floor – this avoids strain on the knee
- Be careful not to sink into the posture – keep the trunk lifting. This action will become even more important in Warrior I to avoid strain on the lower back
- Keep the shoulder blades moving down, and maintain length from the ears to the shoulders.
* Louise offers 1:1 yoga tuition in the Iyengar method at Goddess House. Sessions are personalised according to her client’s needs and goals.