Fit Minute: Lunging toward a clearer mind with The Yoga Loft

Tim Griffin of The Yoga Loft demonstrates a variation of a runners lunge. Photo by Ryan Vermette

Exercising is, of course, primarily considered a physical activity. However, the impact that the mind can have when doing those physical activities is often overlooked. Yoga is a great way to combine the two elements to get the best results possible so that you can feel mentally and physically healthy. For this edition of Fit Minute, yoga instructor Tim Griffin from The Yoga Loft demonstrated a high lunge exercise that will require you to use a number of muscles, as well as keep your mind in the present. 

“It can be a full body exercise,” said Griffin. “It can be good for strengthening, and it can also be good for mobility or both at the same time.”

The lunge has a number of different moderations that can be used depending on the person’s mobility and experience, Griffin said.

In the first moderation, one leg will step forward with the other leg split behind it. Then, Griffin says to slowly bend the back knee down towards the floor until it’s touching or close to touching the ground, mirroring a split squat. 

The next moderation requires the person to slightly bend the back leg.

“The back leg doesn’t need to be straight, it can be slightly bent. You want to have the torso be upright,” he said. “So by holding it just like this my quads in the front are getting a lot of strengthening, they’re all completely contracted, and there’s a stretch in front of my left hip.” 

Griffin said that in this position, you should feel a good stretch in the foot and ankle, and the torso should be kept upright. 

From the mental side, he said that it is all about being present in the moment and focusing on breathing.

“The mindfulness component here is, as my thigh starts to burn, what am I thinking about?” He said. “Deepen my breath, deep, steady inhale and exhale, try to make them the same length. Focus on my breathing, which takes my nervous system and brain away from thinking about how much this is burning at the moment. It keeps you present.” 

Griffin says that to ease the burning sensation in the thigh and legs, you can put your knee on the ground. You then have the option to twist away from the knee that is on the ground, reaching up in the air with one arm and keeping the other arm as close to the ground as possible. 

For those who might not be able to get to the ground, he also recommends finding a platform, such as a windowsill or table, to hold onto while engaging in the high lunge. 

Griffin said that it is easy to get distracted and lose focus on the exercise, and it’s important to train yourself to bring the mind back to the present. 

“You’re putting your body in these shapes, that requires your body to do something specific so that you hold the integrity of your position. If you are distracted, thinking about or worried about something, you can easily hurt yourself if you’re not paying attention,” he said. “If you’re paying attention to your breath, you’re being mindful while you move, you will have a little more clarity and a little more poise when you leave.”