In Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana, the legs are separated creating a stance by stepping a foot forward. The front knee is bent outwards while the back leg is kept straight and firm to the ground. The torso and hands are raised with the gaze set towards the thumbs.
It’s a beginner level standing posture. It acts as a strengthening pose that involves balancing, stretching, and forward bending in its practice.
Physically, it tones the leg muscles and strengthens them. Along with this the hips, groin, spine, and abdominal muscles are stretched and gains flexibility. It is the most suitable pose for gaining strength, stability, and balance in the body.
Understanding Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana meaning, it comprise of 3 Sanskrit root terms:
- “Utthita” means “raised” or “High”
- “Ashwa sanchalanasana” refers to “Equestrian Pose”, “horse-riding pose”, or “lunge pose”
This justifies its English name as a High lunge pose, sometimes also called as high lunge yoga. The body posture resembles a horse performing a lunge with raising the forelimbs.
Here, “ashwa” (horse) is taken as a symbolic representation of strength and freedom. In high lunge pose, with opening arms and chest, the practitioner steps towards achieving freedom and cheerful living. Plus, the core muscles involved enhances the strength of the practitioner.
Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana Practice Guide
Precautions & Contraindications
- While bringing the leg to the front in this pose, ensure that your front knee won’t go beyond your foot.
- Do not over arch your lower back while raising the arms above head.
- Do not practice utthita ashwa sanchalanasana in case of any hip or leg injury.
- Avoid it if you are having any knee issues, viz. injury, or pain.
- In case of any discomfort in the neck do not practice it with straightening the head.
- Skip this pose during menstruation.
- Ashwa sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
- Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana)
- Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
- Low Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana )
How to Do Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Steps)
- Come into a downward-facing dog pose.
- Exhale stepping your right foot forward bring it in between your hands.
- Keeping the left leg firm, inhale raising your torso upright, along with lifting and opening the arms wide to the sides.
- Extend them overhead with the palms facing each other.
- Try to push the tailbone towards the floor to reach back through the left heel.
- Look up and maintain your gaze to your thumbs.
- Feel the stretch in your lower back ribs while holding the pose with lifted arms.
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds.
- Exhale, leaning forward and releasing the torso to the front thigh.
- Bring the hands back to the floor.
- Inhale and on exhalation, bring your right foot back to perform down dog.
- Take a few breaths and repeat the same stepping the left foot forward.
- If you have not yet flexible enough to perform a downward-facing dog pose, you can perform high lunge by coming to uttanasana. From there you just have to take a step back and further step stays the same.
To modify the high lunge pose, use the following props and perform its modifications;
- Yoga blocks – It seems challenging to keep the hands to the floor after stepping a leg in between them. For this, you can place a yoga block under each hand to proceed further.
- Against the wall support – Perform it with your back heel pressing wall. It eases the pose and provides extra support to maintain integrity in the back leg.
- Chair – You can place a chair in front of you with its back towards you. While raising the torso upright you can keep your hands on the chair’s back keeping the arms parallel to the floor.
- A slight variation could be performed while holding Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana. Instead over raising arms overhead. Bring them in prayer pose pressing against the chest and keep looking forward.
Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana Benefits
1. Stretches and strengthens muscles
Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana provides deep stretches to the legs, arms, and chest muscles. It elongates the spine along with opening the hips and groins.
This causes muscle expansion and improves flexibility. All the moves are done by breathing rhythmically, this brings enhanced oxygen and nutrition to the muscles. It eventually strengthens and tones the muscles.
2. Enhances stamina
The lifting of the torso from the forward bend engages the core muscles. These muscles contracts and stretches that increase the endurance and builds stamina.
3. Increases lung capacity
Lifting the upper body opens the chest and expands the lungs. This increases the lung capacity with improved breathing and benefits the respiratory system.
4. Better digestion
The expansion of the core muscles also massages the internal abdominal organs. This improves their functioning and aids in digestion. Utthita ashwa sanchalanasana is a perfect remedy for constipation or indigestion.
5. Cures sciatica
This asana focuses on strengthening the lower body. The muscles of the hip and thighs are thoroughly engaged in it. This strengthens the glutes and lower back and is beneficial in curing lower back pain like sciatica.