Want to learn more about Anjaneyasana, aka Son of Anjani Pose (or sometimes simply called Low Lunge)? In this post, I share the benefits of Anjaneyasana, a complete pose breakdown, contraindications, myths, modifications and more.
I have days where my back bend seems like it has gone on holiday. And then there are days when I can gaze at the wall behind when I am practicing Anjaneyasana. What gives? Well, flexibility varies from day to day. But, it also makes a difference how much I have been focusing on back bends recently in my practice. With practice, you can go deeper in any pose; stop practicing and you’ll notice the difference!
One thing I have learned that has really helped me find stability in this pose is to focus on what my back foot is doing.
By actively pressing it down, my posterior chain — the muscles on the back of the body (hamstrings, gluteus maximus, erector spinae, trapezius, and posterior deltoids) — fires up. This creates more stability in the pose. Not only that but the erector spinae are the main back bending muscles and learning how to flex them is essential to finding a deeper expression of this pose or any back bend.
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Anjaneyasana Quick Facts
|English||Commonly known as Low Lunge Pose|
|Meaning||Anjaneya is a name for Hanuman based on his mother’s name. |
Her name is Anjani, and the ending eya essentially means son of.
The pose name translates as Son of Anjani Pose.
Note: I only include the scientifically supported benefits of Anjaneyasana here. Plenty of claims about other supposed benefits (from the plausible to the magical to the ridiculous) have been made. To me, pseudo-scientific claims only serve to harm the yoga community, so I choose not to give them airtime here.
The main physical benefits of Anjaneyasana include:
- Stretches the hips on the back leg.
- Opens the hip flexors and strengthens the hip extensors.
- Stretches the psoas muscles.
- Opens the shoulders and chest.
- Strengthens the quadriceps, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings.
- Builds strength for the muscles that support the knee.
- Stretches the front of the ankle and strengthens calf muscles on the back leg.
- Stretches the calf muscles on the front leg.
- Engages the deep core muscles, which help create stability.
- Can help alleviate pain cause by sciatica.
- Improves balance.
- The lifting of the torso and arms helps build strength in the arms, shoulders, and back.
- Balancing in this pose helps strengthen the deep core.
Note: Because of the split legs in this pose, a lot of what is stretched on one side of the pose is being strengthened on the other side.
A study on the different lunge variations concluded that they are some of the best lower body strengthening exercises. The use of your body weight “produces more activation in the majority of all muscles analyzed [lower limb muscles] compared to squats.”
This is likely because lunges put you in a less stable body position than a squat and the instability activates and strengthens under-utilized muscles.
If you want more, see our complete guide to the benefits of yoga, which includes a history of yoga plus the origins of our modern yoga practice and much more.
Myths About Anjaneyasana
The shape of Anjaneyasana is evocative of the shape Hanuman takes to launch himself into his famous leaps — from India to Sri Lanka, from Sri Lanka to the Himalayas, and back to Sri Lanka again. Hanuman statues often show him with one knee lifted and the other leg supporting him, a lot like we do in Anjaneyasana.
Hanuman’s origin story involves his mother, Anjani, consuming magic rice that Vayu, the God of Wind, sent to her. From this rice, she becomes pregnant with Hanuman. Seriously. The Hindu myths are fun!
Adding the ending of eya to her name changes the meaning to son of Anjani. That’s why the pose name Anjaneyasana translates as Son of Anjani Pose.
Because this pose is, in some ways, a tribute to Hanuman’s mother, I always include it in classes if I am teaching on Mother’s Day.
Precautions & Contraindications
Remember that while yoga is for everyone, not all poses are for all people! If your body requires some extra support in this pose, see the Modifications section below for ideas on how to do this pose safely.
- If you have an injury to your lower back, quadriceps, groin, knees or hips, practice this pose with awareness and if you feel pain, come out of the pose and rest.
- Any spine injury could make this pose difficult. You can modify by keeping your hands on the ground or on blocks and see if this helps make the pose doable.
- If you have a knee injury, practice the pose with awareness and caution. Anjaneyasana improves the strength and flexibility of the knees, but also places pressure there, which can lead to strain or injury.
- If you have a hip injury, or recently had hip replacement surgery, this pose can put unwanted pressure on the hip joint. To reduce stress, you may wish to place your hands on blocks to help your stability.
- If you have a neck injury, or are prone to headaches, don’t lift your chin or look up in the pose. Keep your neck long to help build strength in your neck’s supporting muscles.
- If you have an injury to your foot, toe, or Achilles tendon, balance can be difficult. There are some Modifications recommended below.
- If you have high blood pressure or heart problems, lifting your arms overhead can make the problem worse. Listen to your body, and if you need to modify the pose, see the Modifications section below.
Anjaneyasana Pose Breakdown
How to do Anjaneyasana / Son of Anjani Pose
- Stand in Tadasana with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Fold forward into Uttanasana. Come up onto your fingertips.
- Step your right leg back. Keep your feet hip-distance apart as you step back into the lunge shape. Have your left knee over your left ankle so that your shin is straight up and down. Step your right foot back far enough so that the heel of your foot is over the ball of your foot.
- Bend your right knee to the ground and, as you bend it, stretch your knee back a little. This helps prevent the tendency to place your knee on the ground too far forward.
- Untuck your toes and place the top of your right foot on the ground.
- Place your hands on your hips and lift your torso upright.
- Push with your hands to shift your hips down and forward. This will cause your front knee to bend more, and move in front of your ankle. It will also extend your back hip more when you push your hips down and forward. Note: This is one of the few yoga poses where we instruct this alignment, so it can feel strange at first.
- Stretch your arms straight up with your palms facing each other. Look forward and lengthen though your neck. Tone the bottom of your pelvis (aka your pelvic floor, aka Mula Bandha).
- Tone your abdominal muscles, particularly your transverse abdominus. You can activate this engagement by drawing the space around your navel back towards your spine, drawing the sides of your waist in, and lifting it slightly towards the bottom of your rib cage (Uddiyana Bandha).
- Push down with the top of your back foot to activate your posterior chain (your hamstrings, glutes, and back muscles). Keep your foot pushing down and use this activation of your back body to deepen your back bend.
- Move your arms back, tone your belly, push down through your back foot, and lift up and back through your chest.
- This is Anjaneyasana.
- To come out, move your arms forward, shift your torso forward, and bring your hands to the ground. Tuck the toes of your back foot. Bring your right knee off the ground and step forward. Change sides.
- Balasana (Child’s Pose) or Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) make good counter poses to Anjaneyasana.
NOTE: You can also enter this pose from Adho Mukha Svanasana. Stepping forward from Downward Facing Dog can be more difficult for people than stepping back.
Modifications and Variations
If you can’t balance in the pose
If your back knee hurts
If having your knee down on the ground hurts, place a yoga blanket under your knee to protect it, or fold the edge of your yoga mat over so that it is twice as thick.
If you have high blood pressure
If you have high blood pressure or heart problems, lifting your arms overhead can make this worse. Instead, keep your hands on the ground, or bring them up onto yoga blocks on either side of your front foot.
To help deepen your back bend
Use a yoga strap and place it at the base of your skull (your occiput) and hold the strap with your hands. Stretch your arms up, pulling on the strap. This encourages the lift of your torso and lengthens your neck.
If your ankle or Achilles tendon hurts
If you have an injury to your Achilles tendon or ankle, you can use a yoga wedge under your front foot. Place the wedge on your mat with the thick edge towards your body.
Place your foot on the wedge so that your heel is raised and your toes are pushing into the ground. This will lessen the amount of dorsiflexion at your ankle and limit the stretch to your Achilles tendon.
Yoga Poses Related to Son of Anjani Pose
- Vajrasana / Thunderbolt Pose
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana / Low Lunge
- Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Facing Dog Pose
- Uttanasana / Forward Fold
- Utkatasana / Fierce Pose or Chair Pose
- Virasana / Hero’s Pose
- Supta Virasana / Supine Hero’s Pose
- Ashta Chandrasana / Crescent Lunge
- Banarasana / High Lunge
- Trikonasana / Triangle Pose
- Virabhadrasana 2 / Warrior 2
Poses To Take Your Practice Further
- Parsvottansana / Intense Side Stretch Pose or Pyramid Pose
- Eka Pada Rajakapotasana 2 / One Leg King Pigeon 2
- Virabhadrasana 3 / Warrior 3
- Hanumanasana / Full Splits
- Parivrtta Parsvakonasana / Revolved Side Angle Pose
Related Posts & Videos
- Post: Crescent Lunge Benefits & Pose Breakdown
- Post: High Lunge Benefits & Pose Breakdown
- Video: Anjaneyasana Yoga Pose Breakdown
Gear & Resources for This Pose
- BKS Iyengar’s Light on Yoga
- Darren Rhodes Yoga Resource Practice Manual
- Stephen’s Favourite Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat
- Cork Yoga Blocks
- Organic Cotton Yoga Straps
- Machine Washable Vegan Yoga Blankets
- Foam Yoga Wedge
- Folding Yoga Chair
A Final Note About Anjaneyasana
This is a great pose for keeping your ego in check and reminding you that your flexibility is fluid and changes from day to day.
It’s also just a great pose to practice — I love how it makes me feel because it’s really a full body workout in one pose (well, two poses, because to get the full benefit you have to do both sides!).
Namaste OMies, Stephen
I hope this post has been helpful in expanding your possibilities with Low Lunge — or Son of Anjani Pose. It’s my goal to inspire you to explore your yoga practice more deeply while enabling you to cultivate the strength and clarity needed to live your life of adventure to the fullest!