Thursday, June 14, 2012

Things I love Thursdays: Lunges

I love lunges. Until recently, I was mostly practicing the Ashtanga primary series in my home practice, which doesn't include any lunges.  I know, I hear you gasp: "no lunges!" Crazy, right?

Because I think that lunges are some of the most wonderful stretches around, and here are a few reasons why:

  • Lunges stretch the Psoas muscle, which is one of the most critical muscles used in walking, standing, sitting, and generally holding your spine in place. Which is pretty important, you know?! A shortened psoas can lead to all kinds of trouble, including long-term postural habits that can cause chronic back pain. Ouch. Stretch with a nice deep low lunge where one hip is trailing slightly.
  • Lunges also stretch the rectus femoris muscle, or hip-flexor, one of the quads that attaches to the hip bone and runs all the way down to attach below the knee, also important for walking,  running, and the relationship between the hip and knee. Stretch in a low or high lunge with the hips square, or go deeper by bending the back knee from a low lunge to catch the foot. Bliss.
So, here's to lunges. Stick them in your sun salutations! Use them as a base to twist or backbend! Dig deep and hold them for minutes on end (and notice when you come out how one leg actually feels a bit longer than the other - that's the psoas and hip flexor letting go a bit!). Enjoy!

Readers, do you love lunges?

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  1. i do love lunges, especially the full crescent lunge... and then the twisting... ahhh :)
    I would miss lunges if i practiced ashtanga, that's for sure!
    Thanks for sharing why they're so amazing!

  2. Love 'em and do them every day :)

  3. I love them !! A pose that consistently connects my mind and body - waking me up to what's going on :)

  4. Me too, love them. Anything to open the hips.

    I was at a workshop last week and the teacher said that whilst lunging the top flat part of the ankle (on the leg which is extended out behind) should be pressed down against the earth in order to increase hip opening. This works, so just thought I'd share that little nugget. It was news to me, and so might be to others.

    Good to remember the love of the lunge so thanks...

  5. @Eco - yep, when I was practicing exclusively Ashtanga, I missed them so much!

    @Rachel - a lunge a day keeps the doctor away? ;) I have started adding them to all my sun salutations A as well as practicing long, deep holds in them - pure, psoas-y bliss!

    @Emily - absolutely! it's such a journey of awareness to get deep into the hip flexors for me.

    @Soji - Good tip! Grounding through the foot can help take a bit of pressure off the knee too, I find. Maybe I will do a more in-depth post on lunges... the alignment, modifications, props etc...