Recently I taught a foundations class to a couple of amazing students. It is such a pleasure to teach students who are open to trying new things and willing to check in with how a pose feels in their body, not how it looks in their neighbors! After diving into the alignment and muscle engagement of different poses, one of the students asked about high lunge, also called crescent lunge (Anjaneyasana). I explained that for me it’s important to build the pose from the ground up. If I’m coming from downward facing dog and I step my right foot forward through my hands, I pause before I raise my torso and arms, and check in with the back foot. I pull the heel forward so it’s working towards being stacked over the ball of the foot, I engage my back (left) leg, and then rise. Once I’m up, I slightly bend my back (left) knee, pull my right hip back and SQUEEZE my left glute. Then I re-straighten my back knee, and keeping the glute engaged, maybe sink a bit deeper into the front (right) knee.
By taking the time to really set your pose up, you’re giving yourself a better chance of spending a longer time here, as well as preventing injury. My student Kim said normally all she’s thinking about in this pose is, “don’t fall over, don’t fall over, don’t fall over...” and that by actively engaging the back leg, she felt way more stable and was able to actually hang out in the pose and focus on her breath.
After getting injured from yoga (and wearing that like a badge of pride... feeling better than because of lack of injury 🤦🏻♀️), I went to physical therapy and one of my yoga teachers said, “I’m sorry that you got injured, but I’m so glad this happened because you’re learning so much.” I had to agree.
The other day I read a short blog on how to get into high lunge from the yoga journal, and they didn’t say anything about engagement in the back leg! I was kind of surprised.... ultimately it made me grateful for my teachers and the training I’ve received. At the end of the day, I come back to the best advice I’ve ever received, which is to continue to learn. Listen to your body first and foremost, and take classes and cues from as many teachers as possible and see what works best for you!