Practice: Ashta Chandrasana / Eight Point Crescent Moon Pose / High Lunge

ashtachandrasana

Lunges are incorporated into lots of different types of physical activity, from gym workouts, HIIT, and ‘runner’s lunges’ – but as with everything, what makes a difference with a Yoga posture is the intention behind the pose. Observe your body and mind as you practice, being aware of each sensation and each thought that arises as you practice – not judging but observing – and eventually your practice becomes a type of meditation, delving much deeper than the physical aspects we may usually receive our attention.

Ashta Chandrasana is a brilliant posture for strengthening the legs, while opening the hips a little, and lengthening the muscles of the back leg. It’s also great for helping us to work on our sense of balance and stability, while remaining expansive and powerful.

If you’re suffering from an ankle injury, ashta chandrasana can be a useful alternative to virabhadrasana 1, and if you’re majorly tight in the hips, this is a good place to start before grounding the back heel down to the floor while being able to keep the upper body facing forwards.

To prepare the body for ashta chandrasana:

As always, practice your surya namaskars – having the sun salutation sequence ingrained in your mind is useful, as this is a practice you’re able to take anywhere with you! Before coming to a high lunge, practice surya namaskar B, but switch your virabhadrasana 1 position to anjaney asana (low lunge) to ease out the hips. Move through a few rounds of each of these to build up some heat, and then you’re ready for your ashta chandrasana!

So….

HOW TO:

  • From Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog), exhale and step the [right] foot forward between the hands, a little closer towards the [right] hand. Make sure you’re stepping the foot forwards and not flopping, as the way we transition in and out of an asana has a major effect on how we feel in the actual position, keeping the knee right over the ankle.
  • Staying high up on the toes of the back foot, as you inhale begin to lift the upper body and raise the arms, ensuring the shoulders stay relaxed yet the arms are strong!
  • Here’s where you’ll notice where you may need to adjust. If you’re feeling extra wobbly, then taking the legs wider to about hip width apart (so you’re less walking a tightrope and moving towards what many teachers refer to as ‘walking on train tracks’). If you’re a little tight in the hips, having the legs absolutely dead center also might not be too comfortable, and can restrict the hips from being able to face forwards, so experiment with walking the tightrope to the train tracks and see what works best for you. Many people will find that somewhere in between enables a more steady position for the body.
  • Keeping the back kneecap engaged and the leg straight, lift up through the pelvic floor, engaging mula bandha – your root lock, and the secret ingredient to building core strength.
  • Allow the shoulderblades to slide down the back if the shoulders have crept up next to the ears, and extend through the chest on an inhale.
  • Stay here for 5-10 breaths, or more depending upon how much the legs shake after a while!
  • To transition out – as you exhale, take the hands down to the floor again either side of the [right] foot, and step back in to downward facing dog, taking a breather before you move on to the other side.
  • If you feel the need to counterpose your ashta chandrasana after practicing on both sides of the body; come to a seated position and take Baddha Konasana to open the inner thighs and hips and rest the legs.

Whether you’re at the gym, warming up for a run, or practicing asana – see if you can maintain the same amout of mindfulness through each activity, eventually making every day in to a moving meditation!

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