Thursday, July 16, 2015

Posture of the Week: Boxy Lunge/Anjaneyasana variation

Many of us (I definitely include myself in this!) have tight hip flexors.  We sit in chairs frequently, or even all day in many cases, which puts the hips joints in a flexed position for a large portion of time.  With all that sitting, the hip flexors get shortened and tight, which can create many issues for the body, and is one possible culprit of low back pain.  Try boxy lunge after a period of sitting, or to break up a period of sitting, to lengthen and release the front of the hips.

Boxy lunge is one of the most accessible low lunges, and it allows us to find the optimum position of the pelvis for other lunges; it is a nice preparation for deeper lunges like Low Lunge, or strength building lunges Crescent Lunge, both of which will be the subject of later posts!  :)  Boxy lunge is essentially making a square with the legs, hence "boxy."

Boxy Lunge

To get into the posture: Stand on your knees with your hips directly on top of your knees, thigh bones perpendicular to the floor, with a blanket or rolled mat under the knees if you have sensitive knees.  Bring your right foot forward to a lunge position, but keep your left hip on top of your left knee - so only your right leg moved, not your left.  Place your right ankle directly below your right knee, so you should now have a square shape with your legs.

Start by standing on your knees. Pad your knees with
a blanket if you have sensitive knees.

Bring your right foot forward to a lunge position, placing
your right ankle directly below your right knee and keeping
your left knee directly below your left hip.

Now, adjust your pelvis to a neutral position by bringing one hand to your lower belly and one hand to your sacrum.  As you engage the front core muscles drawing the belly in and up, use your hands for support to point the sacrum down toward the floor (pulling up with the belly hand, pressing down with the sacrum hand), and you will start to feel a bit of length in the front of your left hip.  If this is already enough stretch, stay here.

Adjust the position of the pelvis so your sacrum points
straight down, using one hand on belly and one hand
on sacrum.

Better view of the hand on the sacrum.
Avoid collapsing the spine and belly forward - you can
see that the front of my hip is not lengthened at all in
this position, but I am taking it in my low back instead.
The hands to sacrum and belly help you avoid this position.
But don't overdo it - in this position you can see my pelvis
is actually tucked, not neutral, which puts pressure on the
low back.
If you can hold your pelvis stable without your hands, you can press your hands down into your thigh without leaning back to help lift your chest and lengthen your spine more.

Hands to thigh, press down onto the thigh for leverage to
further lengthen the spine and the front of the hip.
You can also reach your arms skyward to increase the lengthening sensation in the front of the hips.

Reaching skyward. Roll the pinkies in toward one another
to allow the shoulder to come toward in line with the ears.
A more intense option for boxy lunge is to grab your back foot and pull the foot toward your bum, adding a deep stretch to the quadriceps.  If you can't reach, use a strap to get a hold of your foot. Make sure you have padding under the knee for this one, even if you weren't using padding before.

Pulling foot toward your bum for a deep quad stretch.
Make sure you maintain the position of the pelvis!
If you are unable to reach the foot with your hand, use a
strap to hold the foot! Here I have subbed in a resistance
band since I seem to have misplaced my strap... :)

Hold the posture for 5-10 breaths on each side.


My cats think yoga props are impromptu kitty beds. :)

Am I disturbing your slumber?  :)

Zen kitty.  :)

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