Want to learn more about Crescent Lunge, aka Ashta Chandrasana? In this post, I share the benefits of Crescent Lunge, a complete pose breakdown, contraindications, modifications and more.
Crescent Lunge is one of those poses for which we almost never use the Sanskrit name. Heck, we can’t even decide on what to call it in Sanskrit. Is it Alanasana? Ashta Chandrasana? Or Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana? Often it’s called Crescent Pose or Crescent Lunge. I generally call this pose Warrior 1 Variation, because Indudalasana is also called Crescent Pose — having two poses with the same name is just confusing!
Maybe we should all agree to start using the Sanskrit names for these poses to limit confusion?
- Low Lunge = Ashwa Sanchalanasana
- High Lunge = Banarasana
- Low Lunge with back foot flat, arms reaching up and back, with a back bend = Anjaneyasana
But when it comes to Crescent Lunge what will we settle on?
Ashta Chandrasana is the most evocative of the Sanskrit names we usually use, so it gets my vote. You can find out more about the meaning of Ashta Chandrasana in the Quick Facts section below.
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Crescent Lunge Pose Quick Facts
|Sanskrit||Ashta Chandrasana (my fav)|
Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana
|English||Crescent Lunge Pose|
Crescent Moon Pose
Warrior 1 Variation
oo-TEET-ah ahsh-WAH sahn-chah-la-NAHS-uh-nuh
|Meaning||Ashta means eight.|
Chandra means moon.
Ashta Chandrasana means Eighth of the Moon Pose, which is why this is often called Crescent Pose (as in a crescent moon).
Also, if you use your imagination, the shape of this pose resembles a crescent moon.
Crescent Lunge Benefits
Note: I only include the scientifically supported benefits of Crescent Lunge 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 Ashta Chandrasana include:
- Stretches the hip on the back leg.
- Opens the hip flexors and strengthens the hip extensors.
- Stretches the psoas muscles.
- Strengthens the quadriceps, gluteus maximus, calf muscles and hamstrings.
- Builds strength for the muscles that support the knee.
- Balancing upright engages the deep core muscles, which help create stability.
- Can help alleviate pain caused by sciatica.
- Improves balance.
- Helps students learn to make their hips square in a split leg standing pose. Good preparation for the same work in Virabhadrasana 1.
- Lifting the torso and arms helps build strength in the arms, shoulders and back.
Because of the split legs in this pose, many of the muscles that are stretched on one side of the pose are strengthening when you switch sides.
If you want more on the benefits of yoga, 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.
Precautions & Contraindications
Remember that while yoga is for everyone, not all poses are for all people!
- If you have an injury to your lower back, quadricep, groin, knees or hips practice this pose with awareness. If you feel pain, come out of the pose and rest.
- Practicing Ashta Chandrasana improves the strength and flexibility of the hips and the knees, but it also places pressure in these areas, which can lead to strain or injury.
- If you have a neck injury, or are prone to headaches, be cautious. Focus on keeping your neck long to help build strength in your neck’s supporting muscles.
- If you have a foot, toe, or Achilles tendon injury, balance can be difficult. See the modifications I recommend below.
- If you have a hip injury or recently had hip replacement surgery, this pose can put unwanted pressure on the hip joint. To lessen the stress, bring your back knee down to the mat. See Modifications below.
Crescent Lunge Pose Breakdown
How to do Crescent Lunge / Ashta Chandrasana
- Stand in Tadasana.
- Fold forward into Uttanasana. Bend your knees as much as you need to so that you can touch the ground. Come up onto your fingertips.
- Step your left leg back. Keep your feet hip distance apart even as you step back into the lunge shape. Have your right knee over your right ankle so that your shin is straight up and down. Place your left foot back far enough so that the heel of your left foot is over the ball of your left foot, and your left knee joint is straight.
- Isometrically draw your feet towards each other. That means push down through your front foot and, without moving it, pull it back on your mat. Push down through the ball of your back foot and, again without moving it, pull it forward on your mat. This moving without moving is called an isometric engagement. It will help you activate the muscles of your legs, pelvis and deep core to create stability in your pose before your lift your hands off the ground.
- Place your hands on your hips and lift your torso upright.
- Stretch your arms straight up with your palms facing each other.
- Stretch your right knee forward so it is over your ankle. Push down through your left toes and straighten your left leg.
- Look forward and lengthen through your neck.
- This is Crescent Lunge Pose, or Ashta Chandrasana.
- To exit, bring your hands to the ground. Bend your left knee and step forward. Change sides.
- Balasana (Child’s Pose) or Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose) make good counter poses.
Note: You can also enter Crescent Lunge from Adho Mukha Svanasana. However, some people may find that stepping forward from Downward Dog is more difficult than stepping back from Uttanasana. Also, when stepping back, it is easier to ensure your front knee stays over your ankle.
Modifications & Variations
If you can’t balance in the pose:
- Bring your back knee to the ground. With the back knee down, the pose has a different name, Ashwa Sanchalanasana, which means Horse Riding Pose — it is often called Low Lunge. You may wish to place a yoga blanket under your knee if you have sensitive knees.
- You can also use a yoga chair in front of you and place your hands on the chair for support.
If you want a more active version:
- You can practice Crescent Lunge at a wall with your back foot pressing into the wall. This can help you activate your posterior chain and your deep core, so you create more strength and stability.
If you have a shoulder injury:
- Keep you hands on your hips, or bring them back down to the ground. Don’t strain your shoulders just for the sake of lifting your arms. It takes time for your body to heal from injury, so be sure to give it the time it needs.
Yoga Poses Related to Crescent Lunge
- Vajrasana / Thunderbolt Pose
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana / Low Lunge
- Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Dog Pose
- Uttanasana / Forward Fold
- Utkatasana / Fierce Pose or Chair Pose
- Virasana / Hero Pose
- Supta Virasana / Reclined Hero Pose
- Banarasana / High Lunge
- Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Dog Pose
- Balasana / Child’s Pose
- Virabhadrasana 1 / Warrior 1
- Virabhadrasana 2 / Warrior 2
- Trikonasana / Triangle Pose
- Garudasana / Eagle Pose
Poses To Take Your Practice Further
- Anjaneyasana / Son of Anjani’s Pose
- Parsvottansana / Intense Side Stretch Pose or Pyramid Pose
- Eka Pada Rajakapotasana 2 / One Leg King Pigeon 2
- Virabhadrasana 3 / Warrior 3
Related Posts & Videos
- Post: Downward Dog Benefits & Pose Breakdown
- Post: Trikonasana Benefits & Pose Breakdown
- Video: Crescent Lunge Pose Breakdown
Gear & Resources for This Pose
- BKS Iyengar’s Light on Yoga
- Darren Rhodes Yoga Resource Practice Manual
- Liforme Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat
- Sustainable Cork Yoga Mat by Corq
- Machine Washable Vegan Yoga Blankets
- Folding Yoga Chair
Save 10% on cork yoga gear
- Use our code AYO10 at checkout for 10% off all Yoloha yoga mats & gear.
- Use our code AYO10 for 10% off all Corq yoga mats.
Good for the planet and great for your practice!
A Final Note About Ashta Chandrasana
I teach this pose a lot, especially when I want students to focus on their hips being square to the top of the mat. If that is my focus for the class, I will skip Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1) altogether and teach Crescent Lunge in its place.
If you are working to figure out how to square your hips in Warrior 1, try lifting your back heel into Crescent Lunge and learn what square hips feels like there. Then you can work to recreate that feeling when practicing Virabhadrasana 1.
Namaste OMies, Stephen
I hope this post has been helpful in expanding your possibilities with Crescent Lunge 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 adventure to the fullest!