Nikki Juen of All That Matters demonstrates and explains anjaneyasana.
What it is:
Anjaneyasana is also known as low lunge or crescent lunge. In Hindu mythology, Anjana is the mother of the monkey-faced deity, Hanuman.
What it does:
Anjaneyasana is a stretch for the hip flexors and the quadriceps and is known to release tension in the hips. In this variation the length of the spine is in extension as the pose becomes a supported backbend with the help of the arms.
How to do it:
Start in downward-facing dog pose [adho mukha svanasana].
As you exhale step your right foot forward between your wrists and take two deep breaths in high lunge pose. Keeping the right knee directly over the right ankle, exhale and release the left knee to the ground. Pad the knee with a blanket or pillow if necessary. Draw the front foot and the back knee towards each other to create both a strong and supple foundation for this pose.
Inhale and interlace both hands on the front knee. Exhale and draw the low-belly up and in towards the spine, this action helps support a healthy arch in the low-back. Feel the length and extension from the back knee all the way up to the top of the head. Pause here for a few breaths, inviting opening in the front of the hips and low belly.
While inhaling, allow the sternum to rise up as you slowly take a backbend over the back leg. You may leave your hand on the front knee or exhale and release the hands to block on either side of the back thigh or floor for a deeper backbend. Inhale to buoyantly open the heart and throat. Breathe deeply for three breaths, lengthening the body away from the ground with each inhale. Release by going back to downward-facing dog pose and switch to the other side.
If you are having trouble balancing in anjaneyasana, take the pose to a wall for support. Press the bent front toes and knee into the wall while keeping the rest of the foot on the ground.
Nikki Juen, nikkijuen.com