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Ashwa Sanchalanasana or Equestrian Pose

ashwa sanchalanasana
English Name(s)
Equestrian Pose, High Lunge Pose
Sanskrit
अश्व संचालनासन/ Ashwa Sanchalanasana
Pronunciation
AH-sh-wah sahn-chal-AHS-uh-nuh
Meaning
Ashva: Horse
Sanchalana: Stepping Movement
Asana: Pose

Ashwa Sanchalanasana at a Glance

Ashwa Sanchalanasana,” also called the “Equestrian Pose” or “High Lunge Pose,” is a yoga asana that is part of the Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) sequence. It is a dynamic posture that combines strength, balance, and flexibility. This pose mimics the horse-riding pose or equestrian, hence the name.

Benefits:

  • Boosts Blood Circulation
  • Strengthens Leg Muscles
  • Deep stretch to the inner thighs and groin
  • Improves Digestion

Who can do it?

Practitioners of different levels, including beginners, as it helps to build strength, flexibility, and balance. Those looking to stretch the hip flexors, quadriceps, and groin. The pose is also helpful for people who want to go for deeper advanced yoga poses.

Who should not do it?

People with knee injuries should be cautious and might need to modify the pose or avoid it. Individuals with high blood pressure should keep their arms down and not raise them overhead. If a person has lower back issues, he should not arch too much for the pose. Always modify the pose as required.

Introduction

Ashwa Sanchalanasana, also known as the “Equestrian Pose” or “High Lunge Pose,” is a yoga asana that has its importance physically and spiritually. This pose is often practiced as a part of the Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) sequence and is considered a foundation pose in many yoga sequences. It resembles a horse-riding pose. Ashwa Sanchalanasana stretches and strengthens various muscle groups, including the hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and the muscles of the core and upper body. The posture also stimulates blood circulation and enhances balance and flexibility.

Chakras

The equestrian pose Ashwa Sanchalanasana is primarily associated with the Muladhara Chakra, also known as the Root Chakra, associated with feelings of stability, security, grounding, and a connection to the Earth. Practicing Ashwa Sanchalanasana can help activate and balance this energy inhibiting a sense of stability and grounding.

Philosophy

  • Riding the Journey: The pose teaches us to find balance and steadiness amidst the challenges and fluctuations we encounter, just as an Equestrian Rides a horse with balance.
  • Steadfastness and Strength: Ashwa Sanchalanasana reminds us to cultivate inner strength and stability just as the strength and stability required to build the lunge in the pose.
  • Connection to the Earth: The pose finds a perfect grounded- Ness with the earth, so it helps us to cultivate grounded -Ness in the chaos of life.
  • Energy Flow and Transformation: Stretching one leg back and the other forward signifies the dynamic interplay of energies within us.

How to Do Ashwa Sanchalanasana?
Follow the Step-by-Step Procedure

  1. Begin in the Mountain Pose (Tadasana), standing in front of your yoga mat.
  2. Inhale and step your right foot back, creating a lunge position. The left knee should be directly above the left ankle, forming a 90-degree angle. The right knee rests on the mat, with the toes tucked.
  3. Gently lower your hips and pelvis towards the mat, feeling a stretch in the hip flexors and quadriceps of the right leg.
  4. Roll your shoulders back and down, opening your chest.
  5. Keep your spine straight and your gaze forward or slightly upward.
  6. Hands can be kept on the floor. Hold the pose, breathe deeply, and maintain your balance.
  7. Exit the pose gradually and repeat on the other side.

Modifications

You can do the modifications with yoga blocks for extra stability. You can also keep your hands on your hips instead of the floor to gain more of Ashwa Sanchalanasana benefits.

What are the Benefits of Ashwa Sanchalanasana?

  • Stretches Hip Flexors: The deep lunge in the pose stretches the hip flexors of the back leg, helping to release any strain in the front of the hips.
  • Opens Groin and Thighs: The pose provides a deep stretch to the inner thighs and groin, thus helping to gain more flexibility.
  • Strengthens Leg Muscles: The front leg is engaged to support the body’s weight, strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles.
  • Builds Core Stability: As the core has to be engaged to maintain proper balance, the pose helps to build core stability.
  • Enhances Balance: As we maintain a balance in the lunge position in this pose, it helps in enhancing the balance and creating stability with more practice.
  • Improves Digestion: The pose stimulates the digestive organs, thus helping to promote a healthy digestive function.
  • Boosts Blood Circulation: Due to the dynamic nature of the pose, it helps in better blood circulation.
  • Improves Posture: As the spine should be upright and properly aligned, it helps improve the posture.

Health Conditions that Might Benefit from Ashwa Sanchalanasana

  • Digestive and Reproductive Organs: Crescent low lunge variation of the pose stimulates digestive and reproductive health.
  • Constipation: The deep abdominal stretch on the upper body for this pose helps in massaging the abdominal muscles thus helping in treating constipation or irregular bowel syndrome, acidity, or lack of appetite.

Safety and Precautions

  • Knee Injuries: The deep lunge position can strain the knees excessively. Modify the pose as comfortable.
  • Ankle Injuries: People with ankle injuries, sprains, or instability might find the pose challenging.
  • Hip Issues: People with severe hip issues should approach this pose with caution under the guidance of a certified yoga teacher.
  • High Blood Pressure: Raising the arms can temporarily increase blood pressure, so it is advisable to keep the arms down under such conditions.
  • Lower Back Problems: Excessive arching during the pose can affect the lower arm so engaging the deep core muscles is always beneficial in such cases or do it with ease.
  • Pregnancy: As the balance is needed for the pose it should be avoided during pregnancy.
  • Recent Abdominal Surgery: People with such surgeries should avoid deep lunges and excessive abdominal involvement as it will put a strain on abdominal organs.
  • Osteoporosis: Individuals with osteoporosis should be careful in deep lunges.
  • Balance Issues: If you have balance issues or difficulty with coordination, this pose should be done with modifications.
  • Inexperienced Practitioners: Beginners should practice the pose with some modification.

Ashwa Sanchalanasana and the Breath

  • Start with tadasana. Inhale and exhale. Step your right foot back and your left foot in a lunge pose. Keep the alignment of the knee correct.
  • Inhale and exhale. You can raise your arms over your head and look up or keep them on the floor for balance. Use props if needed.
  • Inhale and exhale, stretch your muscles and relax, and lower your hips, maintaining the square position of the hips. Maintain deep breaths. Engage your core.
  • Hold the pose for a few breaths and release the pose. Inhale and exhale. Bring back your arms down if raised. Simultaneously, bring the position of the feet back and come back to the starting position. Relax.
  • Repeat the same steps with your left back and right foot in the lunge pose.

Physical Alignment Principles of Ashwa Sanchalanasana

  • Do not overach your spine while lifting your hand in the pose.
  • Keep your body involved but relaxed in this pose. With deep breathing, keep elongating the spine and coordinate movement with breathing.
  • Your spine should be straight with the lifted chest. Engage your core. Involve your fingers, and do not keep them passive during the stretch. Keep their back, knee, and foot well-rested on the floor. Use a blanket or cushion if needed.

Ashwa Sanchalanasana and Variation

  • Ardha Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Half Equestrian Pose): Begin in the High Lunge Pose (Ashwa Sanchalanasana) and lower the back knee to the ground. This variation is good for people with less flexibility.
  • Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose): From High Lunge, gently lower the back knee to the floor, and uncurl the toes. Instead of having the hands on the ground, lift the arms and arch at the back slightly. This variation adds to the backbend.
  • Parivrtta Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Revolved Equestrian Pose):Begin with a high Lunge Pose and bring your hands together at your heart in a prayer position. Twist your torso toward the front leg, placing your opposite elbow on the outside of the bent knee. This variation opens up the chest completely.
  • Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose): Start in the High Lunge Pose. Adjust your back foot so the toes are angled slightly outward. I have and pull your torso, lifting your arms and squaring your hips forward. This variation deepens your stretch.
  • Skandasana Variation (Side Lunge Pose): Begin with High Lunge Pose. Place the back knee and uncurl the toes. Turn your body to the side and bring your hands to the inside of the front foot. This variation targets the inner thigh and the groin.
  • Dynamic Variation (Flowing Equestrian Pose): From High Lunge, exhale, lower the back knee, and inhale to raise it back up. With each breath alternate between lowering and raising. This flow increases the blood flow.

Follow Up Poses

  • Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose)
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  • Ardha Uttanasana (Half Forward Bend)
  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)
  • Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
  • Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose)
  • Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose)
  • Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III Pose)
  • Vinyasa Flow

Common Mistakes

  • Overarching the Lower Back: Always engage the core for proper alignment, and avoid overarching to prevent strain on the lower back.
  • Collapsing the Chest: Don’t let the chest collapse. Keep it engaged and open. Take the help of a yoga teacher.
  • Knee Alignment: Ensure the front knee is directly above the ankle and doesn’t extend beyond the toes. There should not be any stress on the knees.
  • Back Knee Placement: Ensure the back knee is aligned with the hip and not lying outside.
  • Sinking into the Shoulders: Shoulders should be down and away from the ears to maintain proper alignment.
  • Leaning Too Far Forward: Maintain an equal weight distribution on both legs and do not lean too much.
  • Rounded Upper Back: The upper back should be straight and not round.
  • Rushing Through Transitions: Always make smooth progress towards the pose.
  • Lack of Core Engagement: Always engage your core to stabilize the pose.
  • Hyperextending the Back Leg: The back leg should be engaged and knee joints should not be locked.
  • Misaligned Hips: Keep your hips squared.
  • Neglecting Breathing: Maintain the pose with proper deep breaths to enhance the effectiveness of the pose.
  • Rushing to Achieve Depth: Maintain a comfortable lunge in the pose, do not rush to make a deep back bend.
  • Forcing the Stretch: Do not force stretch as it will not give you the desired result and may worsen the condition.

FAQs

What is the mantra of Ashwa Sanchalanasana?

“Om Bhanave Namah” is the mantra of the pose. It means “Salutation To He Who Illuminates.”

What is the counter pose for Ashwa Sanchalanasana?

Kneeling or resting pose for legs like Anjaneyasana can be a counter pose for Ashwa Sanchalanasana.

What muscles are involved in Ashwa Sanchalanasana?

Hips, knees, hamstrings, psoas muscles, and lower back are involved in the pose.

What are the few lines on Ashwa Sanchalanasana?

Ashwa Sanchalanasana is a balancing pose that teaches the person to align opposing forces to create stability.

The Bottom Line

This yoga asana offers a blend of physical, mental, and energetic benefits. Ashwa Sanchalanasana poses or the horse-riding pose, often a part of the Sun Salutation sequence, holds symbolic and practical significance in the yoga practice.

Through its lunge position, the pose stretches and strengthens the muscles and promotes mobility of the knee joints thus strengthening the body as a whole. It helps to maintain a good posture. It also helps to prepare many other deeper poses along with meditative posture hence it has become a staple of modern yoga practice.

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Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga International. She is known worldwide for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. She got the Top 100 Entrepreneur of Singapore award in 2022. Meera is a yoga teacher and therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga International, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.

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