Hanumanasana - Monkey pose
The Hanumanasana also called the Monkey pose is named after a figure in Hindu Mythology called Hanuman. The story has it that Hanuman took the famous leap from the southern tip of India to the Island of Sri Lanka to rescue the wife of the king called Sita. The leaps were taken with faith to show love and loyalty for the king. The pose mimics this leap and therefore is done as the splits (one foot forward and the other backwards).
The name Hanumanasana (pronounced as hah-new-mahn-AHS-anna) is from the Sanskrit Hanumana who is a divine entity in Hinduism that resembles a monkey and Asana which means pose. It, therefore, translates to Monkey pose in English.
Hanumanasana Step by step
Step 1: Start from a kneeling position. Place the right foot forward about a foot and move the sole outwards. Rest the foot on the heel.
Step 2: Exhale and then move your torso forward with your fingertips touching the ground firmly. Slowly move the left knee backwards straightening it out as you also move the right thigh towards the floor until you get to the end of the stretch. You are now in a lunge position.
Step 3: push the right heel forwards now slowly as you also bring in inwards so that the kneecap points to the ceiling. As you do this it will now become possible to move the left leg that is backwards much further to the back lowering your pelvis. Ensure that the center of the right kneecap is directly facing the ceiling. Ensure also that the left leg points back straight and is not angled to the side.
Step 4: When at maximum position, move the right heel forwards so that the ball of the foot points upwards. You can now lift your arms directly to the ceiling or put them into Anjali Mudra. Hold the position for set time.
Step 5: to leave the position, place your arms on the floor for support and slowly return the right heel backwards and the left knee to position. Alternate the legs.
Since it might be hard for many people starting out to get the pelvis to the floor, you can start by adding huge support underneath the pelvis. Ensure that the support is comfortable and able to hold your pelvis when you get to the maximum position. Keep lowering the support as you continue learning the pose until you can get your pelvis to the floor.
Baddha konasana, supta virasana, supta baddha konasana, uttanasana, virasana, janu sirsasana, paschimottanasana.
Follow up poses
Eka Pada Rajakapotosana, Natarjasana, upavistha konasana.
Stretches the thighs, groin, and hamstrings
Stimulates the abdominal organs
Strengthens the legs
Stretches the hips
Opens the hips flexors
Strengthens the abdomen
After you have been able to bring your pelvis down to the bottom you can make the pose more challenging. Lean forward with your arms stretched out and hold the sole of your forward foot. Hold the foot for a set time and then come up as you exhale.
Traditionally this pose has been practiced as a way to conjoin your spiritual realm with your body. As you feel pain while trying to do the pose. This is not a pose that is easily learned therefore you will need to have your body and mind in sync to practice it well. It is just like taking a leap of faith like Hanumana did.
You can use support underneath the pelvis to hold you in place after you have reached your maximum position.
Beginners may also use two chairs placed on each side when learning the pose. Hold on to the chairs to support yourself as you go as low as possible.