Variations of Chair and Crescent Lunge
In the next installment of our instructional videos, Angela, Yoga 4 Change's Program Director, demonstrates two postures, Chair (utkatasana (oot-kah-TAH-sah-nah) and Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana (AHN-jah-nay-AHS-uh-nuh). Both of these postures can be practiced either on their own or integrated into a practice that combines the postures and exercises that were demonstrated in our previous videos. Feel free to mix and match to create your own sequence.
Chair and Crescent Lunge can be adapted to meet any ability level. For the more advanced yoga practitioner, you can use these poses to build inner heat and create a challenge for yourself. Whether seated or standing, you can rely on these poses to help you with:
Everyone’s body type and ability levels are different. What's important is that you do what works best for you and adapt as necessary. As you go through your practice, remember: there is no right, wrong, or perfect posture; so long as you aren't causing yourself injury or pain.
Your comfort levels may fluctuate from day to day. Some days you may feel sore or stiff. When this occurs, you'll want to take it slow and just do a few postures and possibly focus more on breathing exercise. Other days, you may feel strong and be ready for a challenge. On these days, experiment by linking the postures together and holding them for a longer breath count.
As with most, if not all, yoga postures, Chair and Crescent Lunge can be done in multiple ways. You can be seated in a chair or standing on a mat. You can also use additional props, such as blocks, for support.
For seated Chair pose, find a firm yet comfortable chair to sit in and position your body towards the edge of the chair. By doing this, you will activate different muscles in your legs. If it is comfortable for you, place your feet so that they line up slightly behind your knees (your thighs and calves should form an angle less than 90°). Your feet can either be together or hips width distance apart.
Now, press your feet firmly onto the floor as if you were going to launch out of the chair. This action will engage your leg muscles. From there, draw your abdominal muscles in and engage your core. Then, tilt slightly forward. Make sure you draw your shoulder blades in, and then down. Reach your hands up, with either straight arms or bent elbows. If you experience discomfort when extending your arms, simply bring your arms down by your side or together at your chest. Set your eyes to one spot and then breathe steadily in and out of your nose.
To take chair posture onto the mat, stand with your feet together or hips width distance apart and toes facing forward. Engage your core muscles while drawing your shoulder blades back and down. Choose what arm placement that is most comfortable and then bend your knees enough to feel your leg muscles engage. If you notice your lower back start to sway, reach your tailbone down and re-engage your abdominal muscles.
Benefits of Chair pose include:
- Tones leg muscles
- Strengthens hip flexors, ankles, calves, and back
- Stretches chest and shoulders
- Reduces symptoms of flat feet
- Stimulates the heart, diaphragm, and abdominal organs
Let’s now look at Crescent Lunge in a chair. We’ll start by turning your body to the left so that your left leg is forward and your right leg is behind. Place your left foot flat on the floor so that your ankle is aligned under your knee. Your left thigh will be supported on the chair. If you find your foot doesn’t touch the floor, you can use a prop such as a block, or something comparable. Your right leg can be straightened behind you or knee bent towards the floor. If it’s accessible, tuck your right toes so that the ball of your foot is on the floor.
Now that you have your legs in alignment, press your feet into the ground so that the muscles in your legs are engaged, almost lifting you off the chair. Draw the area around your belly button in and up to engage your abdominal muscles. Squeeze the tips of your shoulder blades in towards your spine and down. From here, you can keep your hands on your waist or extend your hands up with arms extended or elbows bent.
Keep your head at a neutral position and set your eyes to a single spot. Take steady breathes in and out through your nose.
You will use the same body alignment if you choose to take Crescent Lunge onto the mat. You can lower your back knee onto the floor, on a cushion or a block, or extend your leg back straight. For better balance, place your feet at least a hips width distance apart.
Benefits of Crescent Lunge include:
- Stretches the legs, groin, and hip flexors
- Opens the front torso, chest, and shoulders.
- Strengthens and tones the thighs, hips, and butt
- Helps to develop flexible stability
Considered a balance pose, backbend, and heart opener, Crescent Lunge helps the front of the body to expand, which increases energy and reduces fatigue.
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