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Pose of the Month - Flying Monkey/side lunge (Skandasana)

I first introduced this pose as part of our moon salutation sequence and will continue to add it to our practice as a great transitional pose for strengthening our hamstrings and stretching our our hips.

Skandasana is brilliant to counteract the large amounts of sitting we tend to do in our modern lives. Sitting for extended periods tightens our hip flexors and can contribute to lower back pain and sciatica. Skandasana can be a challenging pose for those of us with particularly tight hamstrings and hip flexors, but conversely is the perfect posture for regular practice. You will quickly see an improvement in your flexibility if you practice this one daily. This posture can be held as a Yin pose to really deepen the stretch - stay here for 3-5 minutes on each side (support your standing heel with a rolled towel if it doesn't reach the ground).

I find this pose easiest to come into from a wide legged forward fold. Shifting your weight into one leg and using your hands to support you on the ground. When you've found your balance, you can bring your hands to prayer (Anjali mudra) or as pictured. Keep your Drishti (gaze focussed)!

Some common mistakes to avoid in this pose are:

- As with most yoga poses keep your heart and pelvis aligned i.e. don't slump through your torso!

-Avoid twisting the knees and ankles.

-Stay on the ball of your standing foot if you cannot get your heel to the mat , this makes for a good balance challenge.

-Keep your hands to the ground to help support you if you are unstable.

-PLEASE avoid this pose if you have any hip, knee or ankle injuries.

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