July Pose of the Month
Hanuman (Monkey) Asana (Pose)
Level: 1 Intermediate
This month I decided to give your wrists a little bit of a break and move to your beloved hamstrings instead.
Yogi Splits is called Monkey or Hanumanasana because it named after a "superhero" in Hindu Mythology. He is the son of the wind (vayu) and a monkey (vanara) woman. Hanumanasana represents the great leap that Hanuman took from the southern tip of India to Sri Lanka to rescue the wife of King Ram who had been kidnapped by the evil demon Ravana who wanted to start a war.
The beauty of this story is that Hanuman was a mischievous child and quite the prankster that eventually the Sun God Surya fatally struck him down, this lead to Vayu the Wind God to take a deep breath, threatening all of humanity, to prevent this from happening the Gods compromised and allowed Hanuman to return on the condition that Hanuman wouldn't remember his powers and divinity.
Many years later the King asked Hanuman to rescue his wife from the evil demon Ravana, as he had to defend the kingdom, Hanuman was unsure how he was going to rescue her; not remembering his own great powers, despite this he took a leap of faith due to his devotion and loyalty to the King. And the jump that he took is believed to have made the waves run backwards as he stretched his mighty legs. The power of his back leg propelled him skyward, while his front leg reached to touch the Sri Lankan shore. Hanuman started to tune into his powers and capability and later fought of Ravana's evil army and won the war. “Many of us shrink before impossible tasks, or even tasks that are just a bit hard, because we are just like Hanuman. We easily forget that there is a part of us that is also divine and can accomplish the impossible,” says Alanna Kaivalya, author of Myths of the Asanas (theyogasanctuary.biz).
ENERGETIC & EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
Helps to practice patience and compassion
Releases tension and stress
Stretches thighs, hamstrings and groin
Stimulates the abdominal organs
Stretches the spinal muscles
CAN BE THERAPEUTIC FOR
Reproductive and digestive systems
CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS
Groin or hamstring injury
HINTS AND TIPS
Take your time moving into it and stop at any stage, stay, breathe deeply and then go deeper if your body is open to going deeper.
The front leg requires flexibility but think about pulling the front thigh bone back into the hip socket to create some evenness in the pelvis.
The back leg requires openness in the hip flexor so make sure you work on opening the hip flexors before you come into it. Low lunge is a great pose to help open the hip flexors and learn the movement pattern of Hanumanasana.
Try and find a level pelvis by not over tucking or arching in the lower back = Think Tadasana spine.
Internally rotate the inner thighs and press the legs into the floor to help lift the pelvis and engage the hamstrings to support the joints.
Use Props, blocks, bolsters or even books to support your hanumanasana until your hamstrings and hips open enough to safely lower to the floor (this may or may not happen in your lifetime!!!) As Jason Crandell says: "It doesn't matter whether your hips touch the floor or not - forcing that to happen can cause back pain and other difficulties......When you can find a balanced stretch between the front and back legs in Hanumanasana, you'll find a balanced pose." This is what we're always. looking for in all poses and life - Balance