Tips, technique, benefits and more

Side Lunge or Skandasana is a beginner level hip opening asana that aims to stretch your hips and hamstrings. It is a relatively simple exercise, which makes it perfect for beginners. The best time to perform it is before a workout.

Skandasana is commonly practiced as one pose in a sequence of flowing yoga poses. However, it can also be performed as a standalone stretching exercise.

Skandasana is made up of two words, “Skanda” meaning the position of the warrior when preparing for an attack, and “Asana” meaning pose. Some beliefs suggest that Skanda is also the name of Lord Shiva’s son, Kartikeya, known as the god of war.

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Side lunge or Skandasana: technique and correct form

Follow these steps to perform Skandasana the right way:

  • Begin Skandasana by entering Prasarita Padottanasana (also known as Wide-Legged Forward Bend).
  • Adopt the semi-squatting position by bending the right knee.
  • Your right leg should be straight and your foot bent so that your toes lift off the floor as you root into the left heel.
  • Maintaining a straight spine, pull your hips back and root into the left heel.
  • If you can’t balance your body, use your hands to do so by keeping them on the ground.
  • You can also bend your elbows to come into the Anjali mudra pose.
  • Hold the pose for a few seconds and then gradually return to the center position where you started the asana.
  • Repeat the asana with your left leg.

Tips for beginners

It is advisable to take it slow if you are a beginner; trying to accomplish this pose all at once could lead to injury. The knees experience a lot of pressure when transferring weight from one leg to the other; prefer to go slow here.

Preparatory poses

Perform the following preparatory poses before Skandasana to get the most out of Side Lunge Pose:

  • Virabhadarasana I (Warrior Pose I): This will help you refine your balance and leg strength.
  • Prasarita Balasana (wide child’s pose): This will stretch your hips and hip flexors. Opening the hips will help the hip flexors gain mobility and strength.
  • Standing Side Lunge Pose with Hands on Hips: This pose will help strengthen your hip flexors and knees.
  • Utkatasana (chair pose): This pose strengthens your gluteus maximus and knees.
  • Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose): This will help open your hips with external rotation.
  • Malasana on tiptoe (garland pose on tiptoe): This pose will increase the strength of your calves and hamstrings.
Utkatasana is a good preparatory pose before performing Skandasana (Image by Pexels @Gustavo Fring)
Utkatasana is a good preparatory pose before performing Skandasana (Image by Pexels @Gustavo Fring)

Benefits of Side Lunge or Skandasana

Practicing Skandasana regularly will give you the following benefits:

1) Improves your lower body flexibility

Skandasana relaxes the muscles of the lower body. Muscles targeted include hip muscles, pelvic muscles, hamstrings and calves.

2) Strengthens your muscles

Your abs and obliques are targeted by the right and left movements of your body. This will help strengthen your core.

3) Strengthens ankle and knee joints

The Skandasana pose will allow you to strengthen your ankle and knee joints by putting pressure on them. It also helps to increase blood circulation to these joints.

4) Helps fight stress and anxiety

The Skandasana pose helps improve blood circulation in all major parts of the body like the neck, head, shoulders, etc. Good circulation to all parts of the body induces a calming effect and helps to combat stress and anxiety.

5) Improves Breathing

Skandasana and its variations help improve your breathing as they force you to bend your torso and stretch the muscles between the ribs (also known as the intercostal muscles). This gives your lungs more room to expand and you can breathe better.

6) Helps to open the hip joint

If performed regularly, the pose will help open up the hip joint. This is especially beneficial for those with tight hips due to long hours of sitting. A strong hip joint is needed in 180-degree stretch poses, such as Monkey Pose (also known as Hanumanasana).

Common mistakes and how to avoid them

  • Hinge forward at the hip joints while keeping them square and aligned with your ankles rather than twisting them.
  • Your abs should be tight and your spine straight.
  • Twisting your knees in Skandasana is common, so be sure to avoid it.

Safety and Precautions

Like most other yoga poses for beginners, Skandasana can be practiced safely. Keep the following points in mind to make sure you don’t strain the major muscle groups:

  • Avoid Skandasana if you have unhealed injuries to your ankle, knee or hip joints.
  • Discuss the asana with your physical therapist before adding it to your workout routine if you are doing physical therapy for a health condition.
  • If you feel sharp pain in any part of the body while practicing the asana, gently come out of the pose and consult a physical therapist before resuming it.

Q. What yoga asana do you perform before Skandasana?

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Richard V. Johnson