Hanumanasana (hah-new-mahn-AHS-anna) (aka monkey pose) is the Sanskrit yoga name to the famous front splits: an intense but stunningly beautiful posture that requires consistent practice to achieve the rage of flexibility. Hanuman is the name of the iconic monkey character in the story the Ramayana. In the stories he was the son of Vayu, the God of the Winds. Hanuman was famous for his magically powerful leaps, as he was able to jump over incredibly long distances. In one tale, Hanuman leaps over the ocean and moves a literal mountain to save Sita from the demon Ravana to reunite her with her great love Ram. As such he represents devotion to friendship and sees the love of is friends in all things.
The fuller expressions of spits can vary from intermediate to advanced. Yet Hanumanasana is easily adapted for the beginner practitioner with a few props or by working the sides of the splits separately by taking a half spits to access the front side (calf, hamstrings, groin, hip flexion) and a lunge pose to access the back thigh (quads, hip flexors stretch and groin). Do good warm up before doing the posture with some extra focus on the hamstrings and hip flexors. You can also do back-bend in Hanuman asana as variation (mild back-bend version pictured above), for advanced version we recommend working with a teacher. Practitioners with hamstring, low back or groin injury should avoid this pose until they get a doctors clearance.
Improves flexibility of hamstrings, calves, groins, pelvis, and hips.
Tones the pelvic floor (root lock)
Gives a feeling of grounding.
Stimulates the abdominal organs as you engage your core.
If taking a back-bend version it will also strengthen the spinal muscles.
Prepare your body for Monkey Pose by doing a warm-up.
As with all intermediate and advanced postures we highly recommend working with a qualified teacher to help you find your form and understand your appropriate limits.
Hanuman pose features a closed hip position to fully access the hip flexors. It is common to open the hips up in an effort to get closer to the floor. You will get more out of the pose that will set you up for other expressions later bu taking your time and working more patiently and skillfully through the closed hip variation.
Variations to Progress
Make it easier:
Place a blanket under your front heel to help you slide forward. Go slowly by squeezing the thighs towards each other so that you can control your descent and stop when you need to.
Place a yoga block under each hand to support yourself if you cannot straighten your back leg completely or the floor simply feels far away.
Place this block under your front hamstring for support if it does not come down to the floor.
Add a challenge:
If you are able lower yourself all the way to the floor with fully straight legs, lift your arms overhead and take a slight back-bend.
Bow fully forward to deepen the hamstring stretch on the front thigh.
Prepare your body for Monkey Pose by doing other yoga poses that stretch the hamstrings and open the hips.
Downward Facing Dog
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