Yoga's Crescent Lunge Has More Benefits Than You Might Think

This deep stretch is great for the hips.

What to know about crescent lunge, the yoga move loaded with sneaky benefits.

Crescent lunge seems like a simple posture at first glance, but it’s actually packed with loads of sneaky benefits that reach from the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes.

Crescent lunge — or anjaneyasana — is a yoga pose that involves stepping one foot forward into a deep lunge. As you lower towards the ground, this pose helps to stretch and strengthen your hip flexors, quads, glutes, and even your lower back, says Brandt Passalacqua, a lead yoga teacher, director, and founder of Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy — and that’s why it’s a good move to tack onto a workout routine.

The yoga posture also involves lifting your arms up overhead while leaning slightly back to form a crescent shape. This heart-opening backbend is a great way to open and stretch the muscles of your chest, shoulders, and torso, which in turn can help improve your posture. It’s something that would feel extra good after a long day at a desk.

If you practice this pose on a regular basis, Passalacqua says you might notice that you have better balance, too. As a bonus, he adds that balancing yoga poses like this one are said to help promote concentration because you have to remain present and focused in order to avoid toppling over.

Want to give it a try? Here’s what to know about crescent lunge.

How To Do Crescent Lunge Pose

Here, Passalacqua breaks down how to do crescent lunge with good form so you’ll really feel it in your hips, chest, and core.

- Start by standing up straight on your yoga mat.

- Step forward with your left foot.

- Bend your front knee until it’s directly above your ankle.

- Extend your right leg back behind you with your knee slightly bent.

- Lower your back knee towards the ground.

- Leave your toes on your mat, but lift your heel up.

- Reach your arms straight up toward the ceiling as you do a slight backbend.

- Face your palms inwards.

- Hold this pose for 30 to 60 seconds as you breathe.

- Repeat on the other side.

How To Modify Crescent Lunge Pose

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To make yourself more comfortable during crescent lunge, Passalacqua says it’s more than OK to put a cushion, blanket, or rolled-up yoga mat under your back knee for support and padding. You can also place yoga blocks on either side of your body and hold onto them for balance or use them to modify the lunge so it isn’t quite as deep. According to Angel DeSantis, a yoga instructor with ISSA Yoga & Wellness Academy, you can also add or take away the backbend portion, depending on how you feel.

To take your crescent lunge to the next level, Passalacqua recommends incorporating an upper body twist by turning your torso to one side while in the posture. To really test your balance, try reaching your arms overhead as you look up.

Common Crescent Lunge Mistakes To Avoid

While it’s super tempting to crescent yourself as much as possible in this low lunge, Passalacqua warns against bending too far backwards. Your backbend should just be a slight tilt that you do while keeping your core engaged for lots of support.

It’s also key to keep your front knee directly over your front ankle rather than extended beyond it. “This avoids putting too much pressure on your knee,” he says, which can really hurt or even lead to injury.

Since this is a tricky balance pose, Passalacqua says staying steady can be an issue. To stand firm, make sure your center of gravity is low and even on both feet before you start to bend back. That should give you a solid foundation so you can truly enjoy your lunge.

Studies referenced:

Gothe, NP. (2019). Yoga Effects on Brain Health: A Systematic Review of the Current Literature. Brain Plast. doi: 10.3233/BPL-190084.

Jeter, PE. (2014). A systematic review of yoga for balance in a healthy population. J Altern Complement Med. doi: 10.1089/acm.2013.0378. Epub 2014 Feb 11. PMID: 24517304; PMCID: PMC3995122.

Whissell, E. (2021). Biomechanical Characteristics on the Lower Extremity of Three Typical Yoga Manoeuvres. Applied Bionics and Biomechanics, 2021.


Brandt Passalacqua, lead yoga teacher, director, founder of Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy

Angel DeSantis, a yoga instructor with ISSA Yoga & Wellness Academy