Hanumanasana (also called Monkey Pose) is all about great acts of courage and fearlessness.
The pose is named after a Hindu deity called Hanuman who showed his loyalty and devotion towards the King Rama of ancient India by helping him to rescue his wife, Sita. Hanuman made a few giant, impossible leaps across the lands in order to show the king his loyalty and love.
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. Because that's how the pose looks, right? Nearly impossible!
Benefits of Hanumanasana
This pose teaches us about faith and devotion. We must trust the course and dare to leap to the unknown. It also teaches us about ahimsa (non-harming) towards ourselves by asking a slow and steady progress.
Physically, this is an ultimate pose for opening the hamstrings as well as the hip flexors. The abdominal muscles and pelvic floor are strengthened and our flexibility, alignment, and range of movement is increased. Hips are deeply challenged in this pose, and so is our patience. We cannot hurry our body to open up, we must trust the timelines it provides us and exercise kindness while on our way down.
Approach the pose with respect. Don't push yourself too fast too soon and respect the limits of your body. You should feel a healthy level of discomfort but never pain. Slowly observe where this line goes with you.
- Start in Lunge Pose with one foot in front, placing your knee over your ankle.
- Place both hands on the floor next to your front leg.
- The back knee is on the floor, toes are pointed away from you.
- Start sliding the front heel forward. You might want to try this on non-sticky surface which allows you to slide easily.
- Lift the ball of the front foot up and slide the front leg as far as your hamstrings allow you to. You might first want to stop at Ardha Hanumanasana, the Half Split Pose, take a few breaths there, and then continue.
- As your front leg straightens, start pushing the back knee backwards so your back thigh is getting closer towards the floor. Make sure your back leg remains straight from hip and is not extending towards either side.
- Keep hips square towards the front of the mat and focus on leveling the pelvis instead of reaching to the ground. Press your inner thighs towards each other to help support the pelvis.
- When you reach the ground, straighten your spine and lift up your hand towards the sky or into Anjali Mudra.
- Start from staying in the pose for 20 seconds and work your way up to 1 minute.
- To come out, carefully lean to the side of your front leg, sit on your outer hip, and bring the legs together.
Variations and Modifications
If your hamstrings and hips are tight, you can place two blocks on both sides of your front thigh and place your hands on the blocks. This will give you more support and space when you're working your way down.
Do not practice if you have any injuries in the hips or groin.
For more support, place a block or a bolster underneath your front hip. You can support yourself as much as needed by sitting on several bolsters or pillows so that you do not have to rely solely on your hands. Let go of trying to reach the floor, and enjoy the pose as it comes for you.
This leap of faith can teach us a lot about patience, self-love, and respect towards the body. It teaches that the power lies within devotion, and once we have a deeper meaning into our practice, it stops being merely about the body but about something much larger.
What giant leap would you like to make in your life?