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How to Modify Anjaneyasana

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Updated May 03, 2013

Crescent Lunge - Anjaneyasana

Crescent Lunge - Anjaneyasana

© Barry Stone
Question: How to Modify Anjaneyasana
Dear Aunt Yoga,

Is there a modification for anjaneyasana if it hurts the back knee that is on the floor? If I lay the back foot flat on the floor it's painful to my knee. My yoga instructor has verified that I do the pose correctly and said to just keep practicing it, but it still hurts so I don't do it. It's not as bad if I keep my back toes tucked under but I'm not sure that is really correct. I feel that the shape of my knee just doesn't work for this pose - even something soft under that knee doesn't help enough.

-L.

Answer: Dear L.,

Anjaneyasana, also known as crescent lunge, is a deep lunge into the front hip, usually done with the back knee and top of the back foot flat on the mat. As you mentioned, depending on the shape of your knee, this can cause some pain. Often placing a folded blanket under that knee is enough to alleviate the pain, but since this is not doing it for you, there are a few other alternatives.

Since tucking the back toes under seems to help, this is a perfectly acceptable modification. Another things to try is to tuck the back toes under and lift the back knee up from the mat. Then replace the knee on the floor, but try to roll forward a bit so that you actually come down more on the very bottom of your thigh instead of the boniest part of the knee. This slight adjustment is often enough to relieve the pain.

If putting any weight at all on the back knee is not an option, you could also try the pose with that knee lifted off the ground. You could do this either with the toes tucked or with the top of the foot flat on the floor, which would be a little more challenging. If this option causes any discomfort in the front knee, it's not a good choice. Anjaneyasana is one of the few poses where you are encouraged to deepen into the front shin past perpendicularity with the floor in order get a really deep hip stretch. This is safe because of the stability offered by back knee on the floor, so if you are lifting this knee it's a good idea to drop the hands in order to support yourself. The pose then becomes focused on the hip stretch and less of a back bend, but that's ok.

Don't worry too much about the correct form of the pose. A modification than maintains the integrity of the intended stretch while avoiding unnecessary pain is the best choice.

Namaste,

Aunt Yoga

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