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Ashwa Sanchalanasana (equestrian pose): Steps Guide, Variations & Benefits

Have you ever wanted to tap into your inner strength and grace? Well, look no further than Ashwa Sanchalanasana (equestrian pose), also known as the Anjaneyasana (Crescent Moon Pose). This powerful yoga asana combines the elegance and strength of a horse with the serenity and balance of a yogi. So, let's saddle up and explore the wonderful world of Ashwa Sanchalanasana!

Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)

Ashwa Sanchalanasana gets its name from the Sanskrit words "Ashwa" (meaning horse), "sanchalana" (meaning movement), and "asana" (meaning pose). This posture emulates the movement and posture of a horse, creating a connection between our physicality and the majestic power of these magnificent creatures.

On the other hand, Anjaneyasana derives its name from the Hindu mythological figure Anjaneya, known as Lord Hanuman. This pose mirrors the shape of Lord Hanuman when he leaped across the ocean to rescue Sita, demonstrating courage, devotion, and humility. Anjaneyasana is a heart-opening and grounding pose that stretches the hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings while activating the core and energizing the entire body.


How to Perform Ashwa Sanchalanasana

  1. Begin in a standing position, with your feet hip-width apart and your arms relaxed by your sides.

  2. Inhale deeply and as you exhale, step your right foot back, keeping your toes on the ground.

  3. Keep your left knee bent at a 90-degree angle, ensuring that your knee does not extend beyond your ankle.

  4. Lift your chest and elongate your spine, while relaxing your shoulders away from your ears.

  5. Find your balance and gently gaze forward, maintaining a steady breath throughout the pose.

  6. Hold the pose for a few breaths, and then exhale as you bring your right foot back to meet the left.

  7. Repeat the same steps with the left foot back to complete one full round.

Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)

When to Do It

Ashwa Sanchalanasana can be practiced at any time of the day. However, it is ideal to perform this pose in the morning to awaken your body and mind, setting a positive tone for the rest of your day. It can also be a great way to release tension and rejuvenate yourself in the evening after a long day.


Preparatory Poses

To prepare your body for Ashwa Sanchalanasana, you can start with the following poses:

  1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose): This pose helps you establish a strong foundation and improves your posture.

  2. Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose): Warrior I strengthens your legs and opens your chest, preparing you for the equestrian pose.

Follow-up Poses

After practicing Ashwa Sanchalanasana, you can integrate the following poses into your sequence:

  1. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog): Downward dog helps stretch and release any tension in the lower body.

  2. Uttanasana (Forward Fold): Forward fold brings a sense of calmness to the mind and body while stretching the hamstrings and lower back.

  3. Savasana (Corpse Pose): The corpse pose allows your body to fully relax and absorb the benefits of your practice.

Chakra

Ashwa Sanchalanasana is particularly associated with the Manipura (Solar Plexus) Chakra. This energy center, located in the abdomen, governs our personal power, self-confidence, and willpower. Practicing this pose helps to activate and balance the Manipura Chakra, allowing us to tap into our inner strength and personal power.

 Manipura Chakra - Solar Plexus Chakra

Mantra for This Pose

As you settle into Ashwa Sanchalanasana, you can repeat the following mantra silently or aloud to enhance your experience:

"I am strong, confident, and balanced in body and mind."

Alignment Cues

To ensure proper alignment in Ashwa Sanchalanasana, keep the following cues in mind:

  1. Keep your front knee directly above your ankle, ensuring it doesn't extend beyond it.

  2. Engage your core muscles to stabilize your body and maintain balance.

  3. Lengthen your spine, lifting your chest and gently drawing your shoulder blades together.

  4. Soften your facial muscles and keep a relaxed gaze to promote a sense of calmness.

Duration of Hold

For beginners, it is recommended to hold Ashwa Sanchalanasana for about 30 seconds on each side. As you become more comfortable with the pose, you can gradually increase the duration to one minute or longer.


Drishti

Your drishti, or focal point, in Ashwa Sanchalanasana, is forward. By fixing your gaze in front of you, you can enhance your concentration and stability in the pose.


Physical and Spiritual Awareness

As you practice Ashwa Sanchalanasana, be mindful of the physical sensations and thoughts that arise. Observe the stretch in your hip flexors, the strength in your legs, and the steadiness in your breath. Allow yourself to connect with the energy of a horse, feeling the power, grace, and freedom it embodies. This pose invites you to embody those qualities within yourself, finding a balance between strength and ease.


Beginners' Tips

If you're new to Ashwa Sanchalanasana, here are a few tips to help you ease into the pose:

  1. Start with a shorter lunge: Initially, you can take a shorter step back with your extended leg to gradually build strength and flexibility in your hip flexors.

  2. Use props: If you find it challenging to maintain balance, you can use a block under your front hand or practice near a wall for support.

  3. Modify the depth: Feel free to adjust the depth of your lunge to a comfortable level. Over time, you can gradually deepen the lunge as your body becomes more flexible and open.

Who Should Not Do It

As with any yoga pose, there are certain conditions in which it is advised to avoid practicing Ashwa Sanchalanasana. If you have any of the following conditions, please refrain from this pose:

  1. Recent or chronic knee, hip, or ankle injuries

  2. High blood pressure

  3. Pregnancy

  4. Recent abdominal surgery or hernia

  5. Severe lower back pain

Who Should Do It

Ashwa Sanchalanasana can benefit a wide range of individuals, including:

  1. Those seeking to develop strength and stability in their legs and core muscles.

  2. Individuals looking to improve their balance and coordination.

  3. Yoga practitioners who want to enhance their connection with their inner strength and power.

  4. Horse enthusiasts who wish to emulate the grace and majesty of these incredible animals.

Benefits of Ashwa Sanchalanasana

The practice of Ashwa Sanchalanasana offers numerous benefits for both the body and mind:

  1. Strengthens the legs: The lunge position in this pose targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, helping to build strength and stability in the lower body.

  2. Improves balance and coordination: The need to find stability in the lunge position challenges your balance and coordination skills, enhancing overall body awareness.

  3. Activates the core: By engaging the core muscles to maintain balance, this pose helps strengthen and tone the abdominal muscles.

  4. Stretches the hip flexors: Ashwa Sanchalanasana deeply stretches the hip flexor muscles, which can become tight from prolonged sitting or inactivity.

  5. Enhances focus and concentration: The concentration required to maintain balance and alignment in this pose helps to calm the mind and improve mental clarity.

  6. Connects with personal power: By embodying the energy of a horse, Ashwa Sanchalanasana can help you tap into your inner strength and confidence.

Variations of Ashwa Sanchalanasana

Once you feel comfortable with the basic version of Ashwa Sanchalanasana, you can explore the following variations to deepen your practice:


Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Extended Equestrian Pose)

Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana translates to "Extended Equestrian Pose." This dynamic standing pose mimics the movement and strength of a galloping horse. It cultivates balance, stability, and grace while engaging the entire body.

Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Extended Equestrian Pose)

How to Perform Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana:

  1. Begin in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart.

  2. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, step your right foot back into a lunge position.

  3. Keep your left knee bent at a 90-degree angle, ensuring it does not extend beyond your ankle.

  4. Extend your right leg straight back, toes resting on the ground.

  5. Lengthen your spine, lift your chest, and engage your core.

  6. Extend your arms forward, parallel to the ground, with palms facing down.

  7. Gaze forward, finding a focal point to enhance your balance and concentration.

  8. Hold the pose for several breaths, feeling the strength and stability flowing through your body.

  9. Exhale as you release the pose and return to a standing position.

  10. Repeat on the other side by stepping your left foot back.

Parivrtta Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Revolved Extended Equestrian Pose)

Parivrtta Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana translates to "Revolved Extended Equestrian Pose." This variation adds a twist to the traditional extended equestrian pose, providing a deeper stretch and increased spinal mobility.

Parivrtta Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Revolved Extended Equestrian Pose)

How to Perform Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana

  1. Begin in Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana, with your right foot stepped back and left knee bent.

  2. Inhale deeply and as you exhale, twist your torso to the left, bringing your right elbow to the outside of your left thigh.

  3. Press your palms together at your heart center, using the twist to deepen the stretch and engage your core.

  4. Keep your gaze forward or look up, finding a drishti that supports your balance.

  5. Breathe steadily and hold the pose for several breaths, feeling the twist from your lower back to your upper back.

  6. Exhale as you release the pose and return to a standing position.

  7. Repeat on the other side by stepping your left foot back and twisting to the right.


Modifications for Ashwa Sanchalanasana

If you have limitations in your flexibility or balance, feel free to modify Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Crescent Moon Pose) with the following options:

  1. Use support: Place your hands on blocks or a chair for additional support if you struggle to reach the ground.

  2. Use a wall: Practice the pose near a wall and lightly touch it with your fingertips for added stability.

  3. Reduce the lunge depth: Take a smaller step back with your extended leg to decrease the intensity of the stretch.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these common mistakes to ensure the safe and effective practice of Ashwa Sanchalanasana:

  1. Collapsing the chest: Maintain an open chest and lift through the sternum to promote proper alignment and lung expansion.

  2. Overextending the knee: Ensure that your front knee remains directly above the ankle and does not extend beyond it to prevent strain on the knee joint.

  3. Sinking the hips: Keep your hips lifted and engaged throughout the pose, avoiding any sinking or tilting forward or backward.

Safety and Precautions

To practice Ashwa Sanchalanasana safely, keep the following precautions in mind:

  1. Listen to your body: Respect your body's limits and never force yourself into a deeper lunge than what feels comfortable for you.

  2. Warm up adequately: Before attempting this pose, warm up your body with gentle stretches and movements to prepare your muscles and joints.

  3. Seek guidance: If you are new to yoga or have any concerns or injuries, it is advisable to practice under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher.

Additional Preparation Tips

To enhance your experience of Ashwa Sanchalanasana, consider the following preparation tips:

Direction to Face: Face the east while practicing Ashwa Sanchalanasana, as it symbolizes the direction of new beginnings and the rising sun. This orientation can help awaken your senses and bring a sense of freshness and vitality to your practice.

What to Wear: Choose comfortable, breathable clothing that allows for unrestricted movement. Opt for yoga pants or leggings and a fitted top that won't interfere with your alignment and movement.

Suitable Place and Essential Oil or Fragrance: Find a quiet and clutter-free space where you can practice Ashwa Sanchalanasana without any distractions. You may also consider using essential oils or fragrances such as lavender or sandalwood to create a calming and peaceful environment.

Music: Select soothing instrumental music or gentle nature sounds to accompany your practice of Ashwa Sanchalanasana. The rhythmic melodies can help you find a steady flow and deepen your focus.


So, are you ready to embark on this equine-inspired journey of strength and grace? Ashwa Sanchalanasana invites you to harness your inner power, connect with your body, and ride the waves of tranquility and confidence. Remember to listen to your body, practice mindfulness, and enjoy this pose's transformative benefits. Saddle up and let your spirit soar like a majestic horse!


Happy yoga-ing, everyone!

Namaste!



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About the Author

Namaste! My name is Pooja Chauhan

I am a Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher and a practitioner. Diving deep into the realm of my own heritage to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing my culture with the world.

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