10.09.2010

Asana of the Week: Hanumanasana

Hanumanasana is dedicated to Hanuman, "a powerful monkey chief of extraordinary strength and prowess (Light on Yoga)."  This pose honors Hanuman's prodigious leaps.

Hanumansana is an intense stretch on the hips, groin, and hamstrings.  It lengthens and strengthens the abductor muscles of the thighs (muscles which pull the limb away from the midline of the body; in this case, the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus) and massages the pelvic area, improving digestion and reproductive health.  In reference to the subtle body, this asana stimulates the muladhara, or root chakra as the muladhara center is literally rooted down into the earth. 

It may be many months or even years of practice for some to achieve the opening necessary to lower the pelvis all the way down to the floor.  Be patient.  Spend lots of time warming and stretching the hips and hamstrings before attempting Hanumanasana.  When first attempting this pose, if excessive tension is encountered, support the weight of the body with the hands and try lifting and lowering the hips with the breath, moving toward and then away from your sensation to work toward the full version of the pose.  Ardha Hanumanasana (half splits) and Urdhva Prasarita Ekapadasana (standing splits) are both effective preparatory poses.

If you feel comfortable and stable with the palms in prayer, try extending the arms overhead.  I like to interlace all but the first two fingers and thumbs to assist in broadening the shoulders.  Keep the floating ribs tucked into the torso and engage mula (root) and uddiyana (navel) bandhas to tilt the pelvis forward and deepen your root connection with the earth.  Keep the legs strong.  Flex the front foot and press the heel into the ground.  In the back foot, feel the tops of your toes digging down into the mat.


Hanumanasana Sequence

  1. Uttanasana (standing forward fold)
  2. Urdhva Prasarita Ekapadasana (standing splits)
  3. Anjaneyasana (Crescent moon pose)
  4. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II (one-legged king pigeon pose 2)
  5. Ardha Hanumanasana (half splits)
  6. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (one-legged king pigeon pose)
  7. Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (one-legged downward dog)
  8. Hanumanasana (monkey pose/splits)
  9. Camatkarasana (wild thing/rockstar pose)
  10. Vinyasa through Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana
  11. Repeat on the other side.

12 comments:

  1. For me any pose that focuses on the lengthening of my hamstrings is always tough. It is obviously where I need more attention. I work on the above sequence a few times a week with a little hip opening as well. One day I know Hanumanasana will appear :)

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  2. Download a free class dedicated to Hanuman and culminating with the pose Hanumanasana from iHanuman.com. Cynthia Woodring beautifully weaves in the Hindu Mythology as well. Hanumanasana is an advanced pose, but many variations and preparatory poses are offered.

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  3. Beautiful pictures! I'll never get there...

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  4. Your practice looks amazing. Your website is rockin'. Beautiful!

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  5. Michelle - Thanks :) Working hard over here.

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  6. You are amazing! I love what you are bringing, which is knowledge, sequence, order and understanding. Hope to practice with you sometime soon.

    Love from Anacostia DC,

    Anacostia Yogi
    www.anacostiayoga.com

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  7. Hi Megan,
    could you provide a video in your blog for entering into the Hanumanasana posture? Is it more difficult for a male in practising this asan?

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  8. Today a strange thing happened. While trying to do Hanumanasana, I could strech myself to the open pigeon chest position. Earlier, I could never do that position also.

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  9. Can this be taken as an improvement ?

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Abhishek. I won't promise to make a Hanumanasana video for you, just because I've got a lot on my plate right now, but I will make a note of your request and sincerely try to make the time. As for your other questions:

      1) I do not believe it is necessarily true that this posture is more difficult for men -- many men are quite flexible, naturally or otherwise -- but it might be a little different for you. Nonetheless, I do believe that if you maintain a regular and focused practice, the flexibility will come, regardless of your gender.

      2) It is difficult for me to answer this question without seeing you in the posture. If you were able to comfortably lift and open the chest in Hanumansana similarly as you might in any variation of a pigeon pose (Raja- or otherwise), it could be a sign that your body is opening in new ways for you. Just be aware of where that openness is coming from in the context of the entire body in the asana. If you're feeling strain in the lower back, it could be that you're hyperextending the spine to achieve the opening sensation in the chest. If you are quite comfortable while experiencing this new openness, then, indeed, it could be a sign that your body is responding well to practice.

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    2. Thank you Megan for your such a wonderful explanation. This is really helpful for me. I have been practising this version for the last 2 days.Regarding the openness of my chest, I have not felt any strain in my lower back while achieving the same. I have been inhaling as well as exhaling while staying in this posture for 5-10 breaths. In this version only the back leg needs to be extended but however in Hanumanasan both the legs needs to be extended and I cannot simultaneously extend both my legs.

      Regards
      CA. Abhishek Sanyal

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  10. Megan, I am now seeing that slowly my legs are extending in Hanumanasan form but on trying the full stretch of both my legs I am loosing my balance. Will it be good if I balance my legs or my lower abdominal region with a pillow or something like that for the time being?

    Regards
    CA. Abhishek Sanyal

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