Crescent Lunge, or High Lunge, seems like a no-brainer easy-to-do pose. But it is very often incorrectly done. This is especially true if you are flexible in the spine. Take a look at the bottom right photo. Notice how the lumbar spine (low back) is curved and the hips are in an aggressive anterior tilt (tailbone lifting upward). This will put a ton of pressure on the lumbar spine, and will end in long- or short-term discomfort. In fact, in doing the "Not This!" pose for the sake of this post, I could feel the undue stress on my low back during and after stepping into the pose.
So here's the rundown on how-to safely (and how-to-not) do crescent lunge.
- Set up your feet in a wide stance front to back. Both feet are on 12 o'clock. Press all corners of your front foot down equally. Lift your back heel high over your toes.
- Bend your front knee. If your knee is healthy, flex it deeply, possibly toward a 90 degree angle; if you have an injury or experience pain in the knee, flex only partially (45 degrees).
- Lift arms overhead, and aim to line your upper arms near your ears to create shoulder flexion. Lifting the arms forward of the head ("Not This!" photo) is a way to cheat your shoulders from improving their range of motion. Turn pinkies to face each other to help externally rotate the shoulders.
- Now let's talk about spinal health. We are on the hunt for a neutral spine here. The spine has a nice, natural S-curve, but we must be careful to not overdo this curve. So, lengthen the spine by lifting the pubic bone slightly and softening the tailbone toward the mat. Do NOT stick the butt upward nor allow the pelvis to tilt forward.
- In creating healthy spinal extension, you may notice that you need to soften/bend your back knee slightly. Do it! I'd rather see my students bend their back knee and find proper spinal alignment than try to have a straight leg, resulting in an over-extended spine.
- What's going on in the frontal ribs? Notice if you are puffing out the front body. If you are, it's a good indication your spine is being compromised. Draw the frontal ribs in toward the spine. Contract your abdominals to protect the low back.
- Your gaze can be forward or lifted. If it is lifted, keep the chin lock (jalandhara band) to properly lengthen the cervical spine.