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High Lunge is a demanding, somewhat advanced pose that requires balance and strength. It asks for power to firm the feet, legs, and glutes, and the flexibility to lengthen the front hamstring while opening the back hip flexor. The balancing piece comes in because the back heel is lifted, causing instability that can be counteracted by squeezing the inner thighs together and activating the core. Press through the front big toe to get even more steadiness in this pose.
High Lunge Basics
Sanskrit: no direct translation
Pose Type: Standing Pose
Targets: Legs, arms, and groins
Why we love it: In the Crescent Variation, the upper body extends and opens, creating a backbend. This pose is sometimes called Ashta Chandrasana, because it makes a moon shape, representing the crescent that occurs between the New Moon and Full Moon. You can take that energetic idea into this asana. Consider the natural lunar cycle can when practicing this pose, allowing it to stand for setting intentions and also releasing them. Add the symbolism with the strength, balance and openness of the pose, and High Lunge, Crescent Variation can feel very good in the body. Many people find that this asana brings positive feelings and inspiration.
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High Lunge can be practiced to help relieve indigestion and constipation. It can also help ease symptoms of sciatica.
High Lunge: Step-by-Step Instruction
- From Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), bend your knees and, with an inhale, step your left foot back toward the back edge of your mat, with the ball of the foot on the floor. Step back far enough so that your right knee can form a right angle.
- Lay your torso on your front thigh and lengthen it forward. To soften your right groin, imagine that the thigh is sinking toward the floor under your torso’s weight. Look forward. Simultaneously, firm the left thigh and push it up toward the ceiling, holding the left knee straight. Stretch your left heel toward the floor.
- Exhale and step your right foot back beside the left. Repeat the above instructions, but reverse left and right. Or come into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog), inhale, and step the right foot forward between your hands.
If for any reason the pose is too demanding, students can always bring the back knee down and keep the hands on the hips. This will give more points of contact with the floor and make the pose much more stable.
You may see students getting very enthusiastic in this pose. They may take the front thigh parallel to the floor. Just watch that their front knee does not go beyond a 90-degrees angle and that the knee does not move passed the ankle. That can take the pose out of the quad (we want it in the quad) and into the knee (which is painful and injurious). Don’t practice if you have any serious knee injuries. If you have neck problems, look down at the floor instead of straight ahead.
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)
High Lunge with knees bent
If you have tight hamstrings or quads, you can practice High Lunge with your feet somewhat closer together. Keep a bend in your back leg and work toward straightening it as your flexibility increases. Place your hand on your hips or reach your arms up overhead.
High Lunge with a chair
Using a chair for support can help you balance in High Lunge. Stand behind a sturdy chair. (Place it on a mat and/or against a wall so that it won’t slide.) Hold the back of the chair, then step back into the pose.
High Lunge seated
If you are looking for maximum support in your High Lunge, practice the shape of the pose using a chair. Sit facing the side of a chair with your right hip and thigh slightly off the edge of the seat. Step your right foot back as far as you are able; your leg may be bent or straight back. Keep your spine long and your torso erect. Support yourself by holding on to the back and seat of the chair or reach both arms up toward the ceiling.