Full Front Splits Pose, or Hanumanasana, is named after the Monkey God, Hanuman. In Hindu mythology, it is said that Hanuman took a mighty leap all the way from the south of India to the Himalayas to source a rare herb to save his king — Rama’s — brother, who had been wounded in battle. Hanuman’s powerful act of devotion ensured that the king’s brother was saved.
Physically, the pose is challenging, with the legs stretching in opposite directions to signify the great distance Hanuman travelled. Symbolically, Hanumanasana represents great devotion and inner strength. Embodying the spirit of Hanuman by bringing an attitude of trust and enthusiasm to your practice can show you that with a joyful and devoted heart, anything is possible!
Benefits of Full Front Splits
Full Front Splits stretches the thighs, hamstrings and groins. This deep opening up of the lower body helps you to move deeper into your yoga poses and advance your practice by leaps and bounds (pun fully intended!). In the full expression of the pose, with arms extended, the core is engaged and strengthened and the abdominal organs are stimulated. Those with groin, hamstring or hip injuries should approach this pose slowly and with caution.
Full Front Splits Step-By-Step
- Begin in Downward-Facing Dog, with the palms firmly grounded and the hips lifting up high and back. Take a few breaths here, bending the knees and lifting the heels to open up through the back of the legs.
- On an exhale, step your right foot forward between your hands. Lower down onto your left knee and release the top of the left foot on the ground.
- Take your fingertips to either side of your hips ¬— if this feels too intense, rest your hands on blocks instead. Sink the weight down into your hips to open up the hip flexors. Stay here for three full, deep breaths.
- Slowly begin to extend the front leg, flexing the right foot so that the toes point back toward your face. Creep the right heel forward several inches.
- Counterbalance the extension of the front leg by wiggling the left knee back several inches. Keep the hips square and the weight evenly distributed across the left and right sides of the body.
- Alternate between extending the front leg and back leg until you reach a point of ease and effort. If your legs can’t yet comfortably come down onto the floor yet, keep your hands propped up on blocks or take a block or bolster under the front thigh.
- If you feel comfortable with both legs fully extended, reach your arms up overhead. Draw up through the core and down through the tailbone and remain here for 5-10 breaths.
- To come out of the pose, tuck the back toes under, plant the palms, and make your way into Downward-Facing Dog. Take several breaths in Down Dog, bending the knees, then repeat on the other side.
- Good preparatory poses for Full Front Splits include low lunge, high lunge, standing forward fold, butterfly, reclined hand-to-big-toe pose, and standing splits. Ensure that the hamstrings, hip flexors and groin have warmed up adequately before attempting the full expression of this pose to avoid injury.
- Be patient! Hanumanasana is an advanced pose that requires great flexibility in the legs and openness in the hips. Just as Hanuman believed in his ability to make a seemingly impossible leap, trust that your body will open up in time, and practice with this trust and devotion in your heart.
- Some people may find it easier to practice this pose on a bare floor, without a yoga mat, which can make it more challenging to extend the legs. Try using folded blankets under the back knee and front heel if the bare floor feels uncomfortable.
- Often it will feel easier to come into the splits on one side than the other. Continue practicing evenly on both sides and your body will naturally come into balance over time.