Summary of Contents
About the pose
Hanumanasana (Splits Pose) is a challenging seated pose that requires the work of the hips and hamstrings, while balancing the upper body on the pelvis. With the hips and the legs moving in opposite directions, the hip flexors and hamstrings need to strong and flexible to attain the required balance and stability.
Hanumanasana is named after Lord Hanuman (Hindu Monkey God), hence also called the Monkey Pose. It is in relation to the heroic leap he took in search of Sita, in the epic The Ramayana. Keeping this in mind, while in the practice of Hanumanasana (Splits Pose) students should feel a sense of power and confidence, and should trust their body and strength to achieve the full split despite being a challenging one. An intelligent approach towards the Splits Pose is to practice on easier hamstring stretch poses like, Hanumanasana Variation At Wall (Standing Splits Pose Variation At Wall), Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Splits Pose), and the likes.
How to do the pose
- Follow the instructions as explained in Ardha Hanumanasana to begin with the practice and warm up the legs.
- From Ardha Hanumanasana, stretch the left leg in front with the toes still pulled upwards and facing you.
- The, exhaling stretch the right leg behind taking support from the hands placed on the sides on the floor.
- While moving the right leg towards the floor, ensure the front left leg stays strong balancing on the heels.
- Exhale completely once the back right leg rests on the ground settling the right knee, right upper foot, right lower thighs on the ground.
- Stretch the back leg completely until the perineum is closer to the floor (it may not rest at first, but with practice it will).
- Inhale, stretch the spine, point the toes up of the left leg, push the palms towards the ground to get fully comfortable, lift the chest, push the hips towards the ground, and breathe naturally.
- Then, once comfortable, raise release the hands from the floor and bring the hands to Anjali Mudra and stay here for about 3-4 breaths.
- Then, inhale and slowly raise the arms above your head gently going in a backbend and looking up.
- Stretch the chest and shoulders to stay here for about 3-4 breaths, initially.
- Breath naturally and feel the connections to the ground.
- To release, bring the hands back to the floor at the sides, inhale, lift yourself up and bring the front left leg behind and come to rest in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose).
- Repeat with the other leg, taking the right leg in front and stretching the left leg behind and stay following the instructions for about 3-4 breaths. Release and relax
- Stretches the leg muscles, strengthening and toning them. The lengthening of the leg muscles also helps to bring stability in the hips.
- Better circulation of blood in the hip girdle and the legs. There is fresh flow of blood towards the legs right after being released from the posture, and this helps in rejuvenating the muscles, tissues, ligaments and tendons.
- In most seated poses the weight of the body is on the hips and the sit bones, but in Hanumanasana (Splits Pose) it is on the pelvic girdle, engaging the pelvic floor muscles. Thus, it works on strengthening these muscles, improving blood supply, the coccygeal region (tailbone) is stretched which helps since it connects to perineum and the spine.
- With the stretch in the groin area, groin muscles, psoas muscles, and abdominal muscles are strengthened helping in keeping the hips stable.
- With the practice of Splits Pose, there is scope for bringing balance and stability to the hips and pelvic girdle. With the opposite movement of the hip flexors and the legs, students can learn to neutralize the rotation of the hips. With better hip stability, mastering advance poses that require deeper hip opening can be achieved.
- Awareness and Alignment plays an important role with the practice of Hanumanasana (Splits Pose). With the awareness, students should work on the alignment of the body to ensure achieving the best from the practice as well as avoid injury. Hence, for perfect alignment, using blocks where needed, should be encouraged.
- The practice of Hanumanasana teaches students to be patient along with endurance. Since it is a challenging pose most students would give up going further and may not even come back to this practice. But being patient, understanding the requirements of the body strength, going step-by-step into the practice are all essential to master this posture. But it is believed that if students master this posture they should learn to let go and practice meditation seated here, taking the practice towards the spiritual level.
Watch out for
Being a challenging practice, Hanumanasana (Splits Pose) comes with certain precautions to keep in mind to avoid injury to the hips, muscles of the groin and legs. These precautions are explained below:
- Follow the contraindications explained under Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Splits Pose).
- Students of course recovering from an injury of the joints of the coccygeal (tailbone), hips, pelvis, knees, ankles, should avoid this practice.
- Pregnant women should avoid this practice, since it puts pressure to the groin, pelvis, and abdomen. It can also lead to varicose vein in the groin, and legs.
- Split Pose should not be practiced right after a run, or a sporting event that involves the leg muscles. Care should be taken by runners to avoid overstretching of the leg muscles and hence this pose is not a great way to relax the leg muscles as part of cooling down.
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