Side Lunge, Skandasana, (skuhn-DAHS-uh-nuh)
skanda (warrior’s position while getting ready for attack) + asana (pose)
Also Known as: Transverse Lunge, Ninja Pose, War Pose
Pose Type: Balancing, Strengthening, Standing
Channel your inner warrior and feel grounded and strong with Skandasana.
Skandasana is a deep leg and hip opener, which is known in the west as Side Lunge. The name “Skandasana” comes from the word “Skanda” which describes a warrior’s position while they are preparing for an attack.
There is another yoga pose called “Skandasana” in Iyengar yoga – but this refers to a different pose (a seated forward bend) so don’t let that confuse you if you follow the practice from B.K.S. Iyengar’s book “Light On Yoga”.
Ashtanga yoga also includes a pose with the same name, and although it shares more similarities with the Side Lunge than the Iyengar version, it is still referring to a different asana.
The body shape of the asana makes the practitioner appear like a warrior ready to attack, but the name is also related to Indian myths.
Skanda is one of the names of Kartikeya, or the god of war. He was the son of Parvati and Shiva.
He was born because of a demon Taraka, who caused problems among gods and could only be killed by Lord Shiva’s son. Once Kartikeya (Skanda) grew up, he destroyed the demon, fulfilling the prophecy.
Skandasana is seen as a variation of Malasana, or yogi squat. The main difference is that one leg is stretched to the side, which encourages a deeper stretch of the hips, inner thighs, and groin.
The pose is often used as a transitional asana, and it is also included in Yin Yoga and the Moon Salutation series (Chandra Namaskar).
Skandasana & Energetics
Energetically, Skandasana activates the three lower chakras – Root, Sacral, and Solar Plexus.
Balancing these energy centers will help you feel more grounded and secure, able to enjoy the pleasures in life, and will boost your inner power and confidence.
- Strengthens the core muscles as well as knee and ankle joints.
- Opens and lengthens the hips, inner thighs, hamstrings, and groins.
- Great pose to release tension for athletes who do a lot of lower body work, such as runners and weight lifters.
- Opens the hip flexors, which may relieve back pain and sciatica.
- Improves your sense of balance.
- Improves flexibility and increases blood flow to the ankles and feet.
- Boosts blood flow to the head, neck, and shoulders, which calms the mind and reduces anxiety and stress.
How To Do Skandasana: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
- Begin standing, facing the long edge of your mat, and step your feet wide as you would for the Wide-Legged Forward Fold.
- Keep the left leg straight, and begin to bend your right knee.
- When you get in a squat, flex the left foot and face the toes upward.
- Root your left heel and right foot into the mat to lift and stabilize your body.
- Lengthen your spine. Place your hands at the heart center, extend them diagonally, or move them above your head.
- Move back to the starting position. You can repeat the other side straight away, or later, depending on your flow and if you’re using it as a transitional asana.
Tips And Tricks:
- You can fold your body forward in the asana to help you with stability but try to keep the hips square and aligned with the ankles.
- Engage your core and keep your spine long while holding the pose.
- Move slowly into the pose, to ensure you enter with proper alignment and to prevent injury.
- Engage the moola and uddiyana bandhas to gain stability and strength in the pose. This will also help you stay lifted.
Skandasana is basically a more advanced version of Garland Pose – the bent leg has the same position as it does in the yogi squat.
Therefore, it would be best to nail that asana first before entering Side Lunge. It will help you open the hips and the ankles, and prep your body to safely enter Skandasana.
Find a step-by-step guide for this variation in our Garland Pose article.
Usually, this pose is done with one leg in a full squat and the whole foot on the floor.
However, if that causes discomfort and is inaccessible to you, you can lift the heel of the floor.
For even more support, you can place a rolled-up towel or a blanket under the heel.
Bound Side Lunge Stretch Pose
If you’d like to deepen the stretch in Skandasana Pose, you can combine it with a bind.
Begin in Skandasana.
Wrap the arm which is on the same side as the extended leg behind your back.
Then, wrap the other arm around the shin of the bent leg, and try to clasp the hands behind your back. Gaze slightly upwards, towards the side of the straight leg.
Precautions & Contraindications:
Twisting too much. Avoid twisting your upper body or knees in this pose – keep your hip joints square and in the same line as your ankles.
Rounding the back. Many beginners will slouch in the torso too much to compensate for the lack of flexibility in the lower body. However, you should strive to keep your spine lifted – engaging your core and bandhas can help you with that.
Avoid this pose if you have injuries or have recently undergone surgery in the hips, knees, spine, or ankles.
Low Lunge Pose
Side Angle Pose
Bound Angle Pose
Wide Legged Forward Fold
Cow Face Pose
Head To Knee Pose
Seated Forward Bend Pose
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