HATHA YOGA FLOW POSE OF THE MONTH: HANUMANASAN OR MONKEY POSE
Hanumanasana or Monkey pose is an advanced Hatha yoga pose and yogic version of full front splits.
It name comes from the Sanskrit words: Hanumat that means having a large jaws, a monkey cheif and it is the name of a divine entity, Hanuman in Hinduism who resembles a monkey and the word asana that means posture.
Hanuman was the semi-divine chief of an army of monkeys who served the god Rama. As told in the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, Hanuman once jumped in a single stride the distance between southern India and (Sri) Lanka. This split-leg Hatha yoga pose mimics his famous leap.
The story says that Hanuman kneeled down in Virasana (Hero Pose!) once he reached the shore of Southern India. He gathered strength in meditation, remembered his devotion to his friend Rama, and simply took the leap over the ocean to go and save Sita.
Because of this, Hanuman is a metaphor for courage and power but also devotion.
How many times do we face our own big seas? How often do we have to focus back on our initial intentions and motives in order to take leaps of faith, like Hanuman? This deity’s story reminds us of that.
Benefits & Commonalities of Monkey pose:
- Tones the leg muscles
- Increases flexibility of hamstrings, calves, groins, pelvis and hips
- Can help with menstrual cramps
- Balances the root chakra
- Tones perineum
- Balances the nervous system
- Stimulates abdominal organs
- Over time, improves flexibility of hip joints
- Taught in best yoga schools globally
- Commonly taught in all online yoga 200 hour certifications
Step by step instructions:
- Start by kneeling on the floor with knees a little apart. Place your right foot forward and raise the inner sole such that only the outer heel touches the floor.
- As you exhale, bend your torso forward and bring your fingertips to touch the floor.
- Slowly, move your left knee backwards till the knee and the front of the foot touch the ground. Simultaneously slide your right leg forward till it touches the floor completely.
- Sliding your left foot backward and right foot forward, come into a split position.
- The toes of the right foot should be pointing towards the sky and the front of the left foot should be touching the ground.
- Raise your arms and join your palms. Stretch your arms and arch your back a little.
- Stay in this position for a couple of breaths before bringing your arms back down.
- To come out of this posture, shift the weight of the body on the hands by pressing them on the floor. Slowly slide your left and right feet back to the initial position before repeating the pose with the left leg in front and right leg behind.
- Refrain from practicing this pose if you have hamstrings or groin injury
- Do not force it, takes time to develop this pose
- Modify with bolsters and preparatory poses
- If you have questions and are not sure if this yoga posture is right for you, please reach out to a yoga teacher or yoga instructor near you who has completed yoga teacher training (YTT).
Modifications and Variations:
This is an advanced Hatha yoga pose and it takes time to build it up. It is highly suggested to practice preparation postures before for some time to help you open up your body. Do not rush or force it, it can end up with an injury.