MATTHEW SHAW IS THE MAN ON THE MAT
SIDE LUNGE POSE (SKANDASANA)
Skandasana, or side lunge pose, promotes flexibility and strength in the inner thighs and hamstrings, builds mobility in the feet and ankles, and improves balance
This pose promotes flexibility and strength in the adductors (inner thighs) and hamstrings, builds mobility in the feet and ankles, and improves balance.
This is a deep hamstring and adductor stretch, so be sure not to rush into it without preparation. Activating the legs while in the pose is key, as well as keeping the sternum as upright as possible to avoid rounding the spine. Listen to your body and modify the pose as you need, especially if you have hip or knee issues.
To approach skandasana, start in prasarita padottanasana (wide-legged forward fold) and come slowly into the side lunge. If the heel of your bent leg is not able to come to the floor, simply allow it to lift.
In the straight leg, flex the foot strongly and apply downward pressure with the heel. The full bind (pictured) is optional. Your palms can be at your heart or you can support yourself with your fingertips on the floor.
Press the arm and the bent leg firmly together to feel activation of the adductors and encourage a lift in the chest. Apply constant downward pressure with the heel of the straight leg and feel the hamstrings engage. Prioritise calm, steady breaths in and out of the nose and find one point of focus to establish steadiness. The heel of the bent leg might not be able to reach the floor, which is totally fine; not every person’s ankle joint allows this degree of flexion.
Matthew Shaw is an American vinyasa yoga teacher (RYT-500) and founder of his own virtual yoga studio: matthewshawyoga.com
Find him on Instagram @yogimatthew