Hanumanasana: Build Superhero Strength!

Photo by Janelle Renee Matous Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HANUMANASANA: FIND YOUR INNER SUPERHERO

Hanumanasana, the magnificent yoga pose named after one of the world’s first superheroes, stretches and strengthens muscles in the thighs (important for anyone using their legs regularly), the groin (building a strong foundation for everyday movements) and hamstrings (important for preventing injuries), as well as stimulates the abdominal organs.

It’s a big pose that might seem out of reach, but no matter how far away it seems, your practice of the pose represents its full expression. Working on Hanumanasana teaches you the benefits of the process of practice, that the journey itself is often the destination.

WHO IS HANUMAN?

Many yoga poses are named after significant historical and mythological figures from ancient Indian culture and Hindu texts. Hanumanasana—Hanuman’s pose (asana)—pays homage to one of India’s most beloved spiritual figures, and one of the world’s first super heroes.

Half monkey, half man, Hanuman is a pivotal character in the Hindu epic Ramayana, known for his bravery and selfless devotion to Lord Rama, whom he served throughout most of his life. As a symbol within a faith tradition, Hanuman stands for the power of devotion to discipline the unruly “monkey” mind and guide us into right action.

In the Ramayana, nothing could distract Hanuman from his service to Lord Rama. Once when Rama’s brother was injured in battle, Rama asked Hanuman to leap across the ocean to collect a special herb that would cure his brother.

With one great leap, Hanuman crossed the ocean to the Himalayan mountain range. When he got there, he was unsure which herb was the right one, so he picked up an entire mountain and leapt back to the field of battle to deliver the herb to Rama.

The yoga asana, Hanumanasana, takes the shape of the splits in honor of Hanuman’s great leaps of faith.

HOW TO: HANUMANASANA

To prepare for Hanuman’s great leap, first warm up with some sun salutations, which will begin to stretch your hamstrings and quads.

Begin with ardha (half) hanumanasana, stretching the hamstring on the front leg. Slide the heel of your front leg progressively forward to deepen the stretch.

Alternate half hanuman’s pose with crescent moon pose, or anjanayasana (Anjanaya’s pose, which, coincidentally, is the name Hanuman went by as a child… so, baby Hanuman’s pose). This bending your front knee, lower your hips toward the floor to stretch the hip flexors on the back leg.

Bend your back knee and catch a hold of your foot for a deeper stretch of the quads. Although tight hamstrings will limit your access to Hanuman’s pose, opening up the quads is really the key to moving into a deeper version of posture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pigeon pose variations are also good for preparing for Hanumanasana.

Once you’re ready to approach the “full” pose, use blocks to support your upper body as you lower your hips  into the posture, one leg forward, one leg back.

Once you get close enough to the floor, you can place a block beneath the upper thigh of the front leg, close to the sitting bone, so you can rest some weight onto the block. The block will press the muscle toward the bone, supporting the stretch and reducing your chances of pulling the hamstring too much near the insertion point where it connects to the femur bone.

In Hanumanasana, the hips are supposed to be squared to the front of your mat. Curling your back toes under enables you to push against the floor with your back toes to steer the back hip forward.

After CONSISTENT practice, you may get all the way to the floor!

You can practice Hanuman’s pose in Lesley’s Rise Strong classes (6am, T, TH and Fri) and Strong Flow classes (Saturdays at noon) throughout the month of March. At the end of the month, we’ll celebrate Hanuman Jayanti, Hanuman’s birthday, on March 31.

 

yoga instructors
Lesley Ramsey

About the Author: Lesley Nicole Ramsey gets up before her chickens at least three days a week to teach 6am Yoga and Mind Body Soul Yoga Studio in King William. Getting up early gives her more time to grow vegetables, work on a memoir, and these days, watch lots and lots of Game of Thrones.