High Lunge challenges the strength and flexibility of the legs at the same time, and teaches you how to stabilize your legs for poses like Warrior I and the Splits.
There are many opposite directions of energy happening in this pose, meaning that you must find both effort and return throughout the body in a harmonious way. In our normal day-t0-day lives, efforts and returns look like alertness and relaxation, often existing in opposition to each other. But on the mat, we must learn how to inhabit both of these qualities in our bodies.
When balance inhabits one’s body, the pose looks effortlessly fierce and calm.
- Challenges the strength of the front thigh, hamstring, and glute
- Stretches the hip flexor of the back leg
- Helps to improve your balance
- Works the muscles of the feet, and the stabilizer muscles around the front knee
- Teaches your body how to alleviate weight off the low back, which is good for overall back pain and sciatica
- Emphasizes the correct position of the hips needed for splits
- Counter-balances the tightness created in the hips from the countless hours of sitting
- Strengthens core and pelvic floor muscles
- Assist the pose with blocks (or boxes/books) to help keep the integrity of the pose.
- Knee is aligned over ankle
- Front thigh bone is plugging back into the hip socket
- Back thigh bone is plugging forward into the hip socket
- Square of the hips takes pressure off low back and helps reduce pain caused from sciatica
- Shoulders are externally rotated open
- Spine is both lengthening down towards the back heel, and lengthening out through the top of the head
- Belly is pulled in towards spine
- Back heel is high, as toes root into the floor
- Breathing, always 🙂
- Shoulders rounded forward
- Upper back rounded forward and not engaged
- Chest collapsing onto thigh
- Belly slack and resting on thigh
- Knee over toes, not ankles
- Hands compensating on fingers without block
- All weight is pushed forward into hands instead of feet, legs and abs
- Hips opening and straining lower back
- Back thigh not engaged
- Heel turning inwards, not rooted or supportive
How to do High Lunge; Step-by-step
- Place the blocks towards the front of the mat – we will use them later.
- Start in Downward Dog.
- Inhale as you bend your right knee and draw it into your torso
- Exhale as you begin to shift the shoulders over the hands, keeping your knee as high up into your chest and torso as possible.
- Press the floor away from you with your hands to create space along the arms and in the upper back. Also try to dome the upper back slightly as you pull your right knee forward and step it in between your hands.
- Once your right foot is on the ground, grab the blocks and place a block under either hands. This will help you find space throughout the entire pose.
- Continue the action of the legs, and pull the lower belly up off the front thigh and into the spine.
- Draw the tailbone down towards the back heel, as you simultaneously lengthen the spine up towards top of head. Imagine you are being stretched and pulled from both your head and your back foot.
- Now you are in High Lunge.
- Hold for 5-10 breathes.
Place as many blocks under either hand as you need to in order to feel comfortable.
You can even place a block under your back foot to help raise the floor higher up towards you.
If you are still experiencing issues with this pose, then begin with Low Lunge and work the positioning of the hips first before raising up to High Lunge.
What will Upward Dog do for your soul?
This pose might make you feel like you it’s working against you. Gravity is definitely not on your side in high lunge, but it is your job to find space in every corner of your body to make this pose light and free. Many times in life, there are things that are weighing us dow. We can let it get the best of us if we are not careful, and if we are tuned out. Yoga calls upon your mindfulness with every pose, and I challenge you to do the same thing off your mat. Create space and freedom for yourself in every corner of your life – through reading, through meditation, through self-love and acceptance.