Ashwa Sanchalanasana is the 4th pose and the 9th pose in the Sun Salutation series. This asana is also known as the Equestrian pose or the low lunges pose. ‘Ashwa’ means ‘horse’ in Sanskrit, whereas ‘Sanchalana’ means ‘the marching movement’. When combined together, this pose is known as the ‘Horse pose’ or the ‘Equestrian pose’. The traits of this pose exude confidence, strong determination, power and strength.
The asana is carried out with focus on third eye or the ajna chakra. And it stimulates anahata, manipura and svadhisthana chakras.
Instructions on how to perform this pose for maximum benefit:
Step 1: Stand straight with both feet together. Keep your hands by the respective sides of your body.
Step 2: Take a deep breath in and exhale. Now, assume the position of Uttanasana(the forward bend pose) by bending forward such that your palms come in contact with the floor by the sides of your feet.
Bend your knees only if you are unable to form this position with straight legs.
Step 3: Now bend both the knees to a right angle. Inhale as you look forward.
Step 4: Claw the right foot firmly into the mat. As you exhale, step the right foot backwards as far as you can, till it almost touches the edge of your mat and the tip of your foot is inversely touching the mat’s surface.
Your right knee can feebly touch the ground (low lunges position).
Step 5: Bend your left knee enough so that the left thigh is parallel to the floor and the left knee forms a 90 degrees angle to the surface of the floor.
If you have any kind of knee or joint problem, then do not bend your knee too much towards the ground.
Step 6: Align your torso towards the front thigh and stretch it forward. Your chest should remain lifted. The back of your neck should be confidently high and aligned.
Step 7: Keep the hands on respective side of the front foot while your fingertips touch the ground.
Step 8: Come back to Uttanasana as you exhale and step the right foot forward.
You can chant the following mantra while practicing this pose:
Mantra during the 4th pose: Aum Bhanave Namah!
Mantra during the 9th pose: Om Hraim!
Strengthens and Stretches the quadriceps muscles
Regular practice of this asana strengthens the quadriceps muscles and also tones then. The pose also stretches them. This helps in increased blood flow through the thighs and an increased metabolism as well.
Stretches the deep inner hip (or the dorsal-hip) muscles, opens the groin and hips
Correct practice of this posture helps in toning and strengthening of dorsal hip muscles. It opens the groin area by providing extreme stretch to the muscle. The more the gap between the left foot and the right foot, the more effective hip and groin opener this pose would be.
Lengthens the spine and strengthens the muscles of the chest, opening the heart and increasing lung capacity
As the yogis bend their body forward to assume ashwa sanchalanasana, their spine stretches, as well as, lengthens to optimum level. The concave alignment of chest muscle pushes the lungs to open up, which results in stimulation of air passage through lungs.
Tones the kidney and liver and stimulates abdominal organs
This posture is especially beneficial in core strengthening which results in stimulation of abdominal organs, as well as tones up kidney and liver.
Has a positive effect on mental power – increases will power, courage and determination
The pose exudes robustness and requires a lot of balance, focus, strength to be implemented successfully. On accomplishing this pose, a person feels more confident and strong.
Balances the nervous system
This asana balances four chakras in our body which results in an improved nervous system.
What not to do?
The posture should be carefully practiced; else it shall be hazardous for your knee, ankle and spine. The front knee and the ankle should be carefully aligned to avoid any abrasion or cartilage damage. If you suffer from knee injury or weak joints already, then it is advisable not to bend in a low lunges position.
If you do not align your neck and look straight ahead then you risk straining your neck muscle.
The pose should be avoided by a pregnant lady due to its risk of imbalance. If at all needs to be practiced, then it should be carried out under careful supervision.