Side Lunge or Skandasana is a beginner-level hip-opening asana that is meant to stretch your hips and hamstrings. It is a relatively simple exercise, making it perfect for beginners. The best time to perform it is before a workout.
Skandasana is commonly practiced as one pose in a sequence of flowing yoga poses. It can, however, also be performed as a stand-alone stretching exercise.
Skandasana is made up of two words, ‘Skanda’ meaning warrior’s position while preparing for an attack, and "Asana" meaning pose. Some beliefs suggest that Skanda is also the name of Lord Shiva's son Kartikeya, who is known as the God of War.
Side Lunge or Skandasana: Technique and Correct Form
Follow these steps to perform Skandasana in the correct way:
- Start the Skandasana by getting into the Prasarita Padottanasana (also known as the Wide-Legged Forward Bend).
- Assume the half-squat position by bending your right knee.
- Your right leg should be straight and your foot bent in a way that your toes get lifted off the ground as you root into the left heel.
- Maintaining a straight spine, pull your hips back and root into the left heel.
- If you are unable to balance your body, use your hands to do so by keeping them on the floor.
- You can also bend your elbows to get into the Anjali mudra pose.
- Hold the pose for a few seconds and then gradually return to the central position where you started the asana.
- Repeat the asana with your left leg.
Tips for Beginners
It is advisable to go slow if you are a beginner; trying to accomplish this pose in one go could result in injury. The knees take a lot of pressure while shifting weight from one leg to another; prefer to go slow here.
Perform the following preparatory poses before Skandasana to obtain the maximum benefit from the side lunge pose:
- Virabhadarasana I (Warrior Pose I): It will help hone your balance and leg strength.
- Prasarita Balasana (Wide Child Pose): This will stretch your hips and hip flexors. The opening of the hips will help the hip flexors gain better mobility and strength.
- Standing Side Lunge Pose with Hands on Hips: This pose will help strengthen your hip flexors and knees.
- Utkatasana (Chair Pose): This pose strengthens your gluteus maximus and knees.
- Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose): This will help open your hips with the external rotation.
- Malasana On Tiptoes (Garland Pose On Tiptoes): This pose will increase your calves and hamstring strength.
Benefits of Side Lunge or Skandasana
Practicing Skandasana regularly will provide you with the following benefits:
1) Improves The Flexibility of Your Lower Body
The Skandasana loosens up the muscles of your lower body. The muscles that are targeted include hip muscles, pelvic muscles, hamstrings, and calves.
2) Strengthens Your Muscles
Your abdominis and obliques are targeted by the right and left movements of your body. This will help strengthen your core.
3) Strengthens Ankle and Knee Joints
The Skandasana pose will allow you to strengthen your ankle and knee joints as it puts pressure on them. This also helps increase blood circulation to these joints.
4) Helps Fight Stress and Anxiety
The Skandasana pose helps improve blood circulation to all major body parts like your neck, head, shoulders, etc. Good circulation across all body parts induces a calming effect and helps fight stress and anxiety.
5) Improves Respiration
Skandasana and its variations help improve your respiration as they require you to bend your torso and stretch the muscles present between the ribs (also known as intercostal muscles). Thus, your lungs get more room to expand and you can breathe better.
6) Helps Open Up the Hip Joint
If performed regularly, the pose will help you open up the hip joint. This is especially beneficial for those with tight hips due to long hours of sitting. A strong hip joint is required in 180-degree stretch poses, like the monkey pose (also known as Hanumanasana).
Common Mistakes and How To Avoid Them
- Hinge forward at the hip joints while keeping them square and aligned with your ankles rather than twisting.
- Your abs must be engaged and your spine straight.
- It is common to twist your knees in Skandasana, so make sure to avoid it.
Safety and Precautions
Like most other yoga poses for beginners, Skandasana is safe to practice. Keep in mind the following points to ensure that you do not put stress on major muscle groups:
- Avoid Skandasana if you have any unhealed injuries to your ankle joints, knee joints, or hip joints.
- Discuss the asana with your physiotherapist before adding it to your workout routine if you are doing physical therapy for any health condition.
- If you feel sharp pain in any part of the body while practicing the asana, gently come out of the pose and consult a physiotherapist before resuming it.
Q. Which yoga asana do you perform before Skandasana?
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