Skandasana (Side Lunge Pose): Steps, Benefits & Precautions

Skandasana (side lunge pose)
Skandasana for deep hip stretching. Source: Shutterstock

Skandasana in yoga is a side lunge exercise that is a part of the hip opening sequence. Sometimes it’s practiced as a transitional pose in a flow but when practiced separately, it deepens the stretch of glutes, hamstrings, and quads muscles.

If you have practiced Squat pose (Malasana) before, then Skandasana is an advanced variation of it in which body weight rests on one foot instead of both feet.

In Skandasana, the body weight is shifted on one bent leg so that the opposite leg can be freely stretch out to the sides. It tones the legs and gives you slim thighs.

Meaning

In skandsasana, ‘Skanda‘ represents ‘a warrior’s position during an attack’ and ‘asana‘ means ‘pose’. This pose is dedicated to Kartikeya, who’s the elder son of lord shiva and called the god of war.

When the body comes in the side lunge position of Skandasana, it makes the practitioner looks like an attacker position on the battlefield. So, the asana got its name. It’s also called ‘pose of the war god’.

Mythology

According to the epic poem, Kumarsambhava 1 written by Kalidasa; Once the demon named Taraka was creating a disturbance among the Gods.

He had been granted a boon that could only be killed by the lord shiva’s son; for which Goddess Parvati went to him but Shiva was in deep meditation; to disturb Shiva, Kama (god of love) shot an arrow of desire at him, in response burnt into ashes, as shiva opened his third eye.

After that, to get along with shiva; Parvati followed asceticism by opting for religious discipline and got married to shiva; after some time, Kartikeya (Skanda) born; and after reaching manhood destroyed Taraka.

Skandasana Practice Guide

This asana can be practice safely by practicing the giving steps.

Precautions & Contraindications

  • Practitioners with a knee and ankle condition should avoid practicing this asana.
  • Menstruating women should refrain from doing Skandasana; pregnant women also refrain in the later trimester; and for initial, should consult a doctor before practice under the qualified yoga instructor.
  • Practitioners with the injury to the hamstring, groin, and hips do not practice this asana until recovered.

Preparatory Pose

Skandasana Steps

  • Begin by coming into the Prasarita Padottanasana – standing straight, legs little wider than shoulder-distance.
  • Come in half-squat position on your right leg.
  • Turn your right foot outward, bend the right knee, and lean toward the right side while keeping the left leg straight. shift your body weight slowly to the right leg. Flex your left foot and toes pointing upward.
  • Press the heel of the left foot and firm the right foot sole to deepen the stretch. This is the final position of the side lunge pose.
  • You can play with your arms to create variations of Skandasana. For the simplicity, make Anjali mudra by the hand for accumulating concentration to stabilize the pose, or simply put them on the floor.
  • Hold here for few breaths then come in the central position (first step) and shift the weight on another leg.

The follow this sequence of Skandasana: from left leg to center position and center to the right leg. Repeat! When done, stop in the centre position and relax in tadasana.

Beginners Tips

  • A beginner should not try to accomplish this pose in one go; it could result in injury.
  • While shifting weight from one leg to another, intense pressure is laid on the knees; prefer to go slow here.

Props and modifications

  • One can put a folded blanket under the heel to provide the necessary support to the posture.
  • To deepen the stretching practitioners can balance the pose on the balls of the foot; as if unable to reach there with the sole.
  • Practitioners can also place a block under their seats to avoid falling due to disbalance.

Follow Up poses

Variations

In the series of lunge pose, poses like Equestrian Pose, Low Lunge Pose and High Lunge Pose can be practiced.

Side lunge variations consist of different position of arms and upper trunk that can be practiced in following manner:

1. Utthita Baddha Parsva Upvesasana (Bound Side Lunge Stretch Pose)

Bound Side Lunge Stretch Pose (skandasana variation)
skandasana variation – bound side lunge stretch pose. Source: canva

In this variation of side lunge pose, arms are wrapped around the bent leg so it bounds legs and deepens the opposite leg stretch. To do this:

  • From accomplished side lunge pose (stated above), clasp the left-hand wrist or simply fingers by the right hand; while wrapping up your right leg shin bone. Your left foot pointing up and gaze up in the left direction.

2. Standing Side Lunge with Forward Bend

For this variation, after coming into final position of side lunge pose, straighten your trunk and then bend forward from your waist. Here in this position, hands can be resting on respective legs or on the floor.

Skandasana Benefits

  • Strengthen core muscles – The transitional right and left movement in this asana engages abdomen which results in invigorating core muscles (Abdominis, obliques, etc).
  • Improve Lower body Flexibility – The accomplished position of this asana requires a deeper stretch; that loosen up the muscles of Hip, hamstring, calves, pelvic, etc. Therefore, makes one lower body supple.
  • Strengthens Knee and Ankle Joints – The pressure experienced by the concerning joints in this asana enhances blood circulation to these areas; which serves with fresh oxygen-rich blood loaded with nutrients to their tissues. Ultimately, strengthens them.
  • Improve Respiration – The above-stated variation of Skandasana involves sideways bending of the torso, which stretches intercostal (muscles between the ribs); this allows more freedom of expansion to the lungs. Hence, assist in respiration.
  • Open Hip Joint – Stretching and holding for a good period of time in this asana opens up the hip joint; that further reduces the difficulty of the asanas demands 180-degree stretch like Hanumanasana (monkey pose).
  • Combat Stress and Anxiety – The dynamic nature of Skandasana increases the blood flow to the head, neck, and shoulder region; this soothes the concerning area and induces a calming effect on the mind.
  • Balances Sacral and Root chakra – The physical movement of the body in the side lunge pose influence the Sacral and Root chakra; This balances them. Further balanced root and sacral chakra gives the person a sense of security, groundedness, and let enjoy pleasures of life.

References

  1. Kumārasambhava https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kum%C4%81rasambhava

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