Monkey Pose, commonly known as “the splits,” is an advanced leg stretch and hip-opener. The yoga version of this pose keeps the hips squared to the front, unlike the version practiced in dance where the hips are opened more to the side. The pose symbolizes the power of devotion and leaps of faith, which is exactly what we need to accomplish it. We should not merely stretch our legs, but also bring devotion into our practice. Hanumanasana teaches us to overcome obstacles and do what seems almost impossible.
What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana
This asana must be performed on an empty stomach. You must have your meals at least four to six hours before you practice yoga. You must also make sure that your bowels are empty. Do not practice Hanumanasana if you have a recent or chronic hamstring, groin, or low back injury. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities.
How To Do The Hanumanasana : Step-by-Step Instructions
- Start by kneeling upright; place your knees a bit apart. Place your right foot forward, around a foot or so in front of your left knee and turn your right thigh outward. To do this, you will need to lift your inner sole away from the floor, so that your foot rests on your outer heel.
- Breathe out and bending your torso forward, press your fingertips to the floor.
- Gradually, move your left knee backwards. Straighten the knee and simultaneously, lower your right thigh, towards the floor. Just before you feel you have reached the limit of your stretch, stop straightening your left knee.
- Next, start pushing your right heel away from your torso. Gradually, start turning the leg inward while you straighten it and bring your kneecap towards the ceiling. As your front leg becomes straight, start pressing the left knee backwards once again. Carefully, drop the front of the left thigh, along with the back of the right thigh towards the ground. The center of your right knee should point directly towards the ceiling.
- Ensure that your back leg is extended straight out behind, from the hip, without being angled out to the side. The center of that kneecap should press on to the floor.
- Extend the heel of the front leg and lift the ball of the foot towards the ceiling. You could either stretch your hands straight up (towards the ceiling) or bring them together in the Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal)
- Hold this pose for around a minute before releasing it. To do so, press your hands on to the floor and turn the front leg out slightly. Slowly, return your front heel as well as the back knee to the starting position.
- Repeat the exercise, using the other leg.
Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Do not attempt learning Hanumanasana on your own. Take the time to learn this pose from a qualified and knowledgeable instructor who can provide you with guidance on the alignment before practicing it by yourself.
- Be sure to thoroughly warm up your legs and hips before practicing this pose.
- Take it slowly and be careful! Only come as deeply into the pose as it is comfortable. Forcing the pose can quickly lead to an injury — so take it easy and be patient.
- Keep your hips squared to the front.
- Keep your front kneecap facing up and your back kneecap pressing down.
To increase the length of the torso and spine, press the back foot actively into the floor and, from this pressure, lift the shoulder blades firmly into your back.
Modifications & Variations
Try these simple changes to find a variation of the pose that works for you:
- Place each hand on a yoga block to help support yourself and to help bring your torso more upright.
- Practice the pose off your mat on a hard floor. Place a blanket under your front heel and back knee; this will help your legs slide forward and back.
- If your front leg does not reach the floor, place a block underneath your hamstring for support.
- If your pelvis does not reach the floor, place a folded, firm blanket or yoga bolster beneath your pelvis for support.
- Those with more flexibility can add a slight backbend when their arms are overhead.
- Another advanced variation is to lean forward over the front, extended leg. Hold onto your front foot with both hands, keeping your hips squared and legs straight. Hold for 10 breaths, and then bring your torso upright on an inhalation.
Benefits Of The Hanumanasana
- This pose is excellent for your legs. The benefit to the body part is that it keeps your legs supple and flexible. This will reduce the risks of injuries, while you engage in other activities such as jogging, sprinting, cycling or climbing.
- The Monkey Pose stimulates the various organs in your abdominal region, improving their overall functioning. Moreover, the abdominal muscles also get toned up with this exercise.
- Practicing this pose on a regular basis opens up the hips and the groin region, increasing your overall flexibility, balance and alignment.
- Performing the Monkey Pose regularly helps prevents sciatica. Those who are already suffering from the condition could practice the pose carefully, to reduce the pain.
- This pose improves the flow of blood to all the parts of the body, especially the abdomen and your skin. This improves digestion, gets rid of the toxins from your body and keeps you looking fresh and younger.
- In case you suffer from insomnia, this position could help your body re-establish its normal rhythm. The Monkey Pose also relieves stress, which improves sleeping patterns.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Adding Hanumanasana to your regular practice can bring lightheartedness and fun to your mat. Let your imagination take over as you leap with Hanuman, stretching your legs into the biggest jump you’ve ever done!