Side Lunge Pose Skandasana
Side lunge pose is a hip opening, heart- warming beauty of a pose. Sometimes known as young goddess warrior, the pose is named for the Hindu war god Skanda. There are many versions of Skandasana that include seated and standing leg behind the head postures. The side lunge version described here is a standing pose that combines a deep half squat with a modified split. In its full expression, side lunge pose includes an arm bind and twist that open chest, hips and hamstrings. The real value of side lunge pose for yoga teachers and choreographers is its versatility. Side lunge pose provides endless possibilities for effortless transitions, from mountain, goddess pose, wide straddle forward bends, warrior series and moving from standing to seated poses. Side lunge pose was made popular by Shiva Rhea, who used it many of her trance-flow sequences.
Begin in a wide leg forward bend with both hands on the floor. Bend your right knee and lengthen your left leg. Ground the right foot to the floor. Flex the left foot so the toes point up towards the ceiling. Open the chest and lift the gaze. Deepen the lunge by bringing hips over the ankles. Slowly, lower tailbone towards the floor. Bring the right shoulder and arm in front the right leg, wrap the arm back and around. Reach the left arm behind the body and bind. Keep revolving the chest towards the extended leg, eye gaze lifting skyward. To exit the pose, release the bind. Bring both hands to the floor, return to start pose. Repeat other side.
Visualization CommentsTo maintain balance and stability in this pose requires the use of the moola and uddiyana bandas (internal core muscles). Imagine your core muscles to be connected by an internal string on a pulley attached to the ceiling. When you pull up from the pelvic floor, the belly button draws in, the sternum lifts, the spine straightens and the torso lifts up and out of the hips like a puppet on a string. You might practice this in a warm up with a standing rag doll fold, rising to standing.
Technical CommentsFrom a wide standing straddle, fold forward from the hip joints, bringing hands to blocks floor or tepee fingers (dependent on level and flexibility). Stretch the head crown and sternum away from the body in a half forward bend, extending the torso up and out of the hips. Align the hips over the ankles, before bending one knee into a half squat. Go as deep as is comfortable, without letting your buttocks touch the floor. To avoid rolling back and losing balance, ground the standing foot and flex the foot of extended leg, lifting the torso up and out of hips.
- Open hips and heart
- Stretches hamstrings, inner thighs, calves and ankles
- Strengthens core muscles
- Improves balance
- Improves flexibility and strength of knees
Watch Out For:
- Twisting hips (hinge forward at hip joints and line with ankles)
- Twisting knees (keep hips square, gently bend knee, before binding and turning)
- Loss of balance (place blocks under buttocks)
- Slumping torso(lift from pelvic floor, pull belly in and straighten the spine
- Knee and ankle injuries
- Place hands on blocks
- Place a block under buttocks
- Practice straddling a chair
- Place hands in prayer pose or reverse prayer
- Sweep hands along floor in direction of flexed foot
- Place foot sole of extended leg on floor
Yoga Counter Poses
- Wide straddle, toes touching, seated or standing forward bend
- Mountain pose
- Downward facing dog