Lunge or Anjaneyasana is a great pose to stretch the hips, open the chest and improve balance. It is found in many yoga practices and accessible to all levels. As a runner and triathlete, I have tight hip flexors and this pose allows for a gentle stretch of the psoas and serves as a preparatory pose for deeper hip openers.
Getting into the pose: Starting from downward facing dog, exhale your right leg forward and rest your left knee down on the mat. Place your right knee over right ankle and left knee directly behind left hip. Inhale your arms and torso up, reaching fingertips towards sky with palms facing in or interlacing fingers overhead with triceps aligned with ears. On an exhale, allow your hips to settle forward and down to deepen the stretch in the front of the left leg and psoas. To exit the pose, plant the palms on the mat and step the right leg back pressing into downward dog. Repeat on the opposite side.
Alignment cues: Lift the lower back ribs away from the pelvis to keep the lower spine as long as possible. Draw the tailbone down, relax the shoulders and shift the gaze up as you reach your fingertips up and back for a slight backbend. Press the top of the left foot and shin into the mat. Option to curl the back toes under and lift the left knee for crescent lunge.
Strengthens the quadriceps and gluteus muscles
Stretches the psoas and hips
Relieves sciatica pain
Expands your chest, lungs and shoulders