Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose)

hanUMANASANA“It was the greatest leap ever taken. The speed of Hanuman’s jump pulled blossoms and flowers into the air after him and they fell like little stars on the waving treetops. The animals on the beach had never seen such a thing; they cheered Hanuman, then the air burned from his passage, and red clouds flamed over the sky…” (Ramayana, retold by William Buck).

This pose then, in which the legs are split forward and back, mimics Hanuman’s famous leap from the southern tip of India to the island of Sri Lanka.

Benefits: Stretches the thighs, hamstrings, groins, stimulates the abdominal organs.

How to practice at home: (tip – practice on a slippery floor, without your mat. Place blankets under the back knee and front heel).

Kneel on the floor. Step your right foot forward about a foot in front of your left knee, and rotate your right thigh outwardly.Exhale and lean your torso forward, pressing your fingertips to the floor. Slowly slide your left knee back, straightening the knee and at the same time descending the right thigh toward the floor. Stop straightening the back knee just before you reach the limit of your stretch. (Beginners, keep the left knee bent at a 90 degree angle and work on straightening the front knee and lowering your torso downwards). Now begin to push the right heel away from your torso. As the front leg straightens, resume pressing the left knee back, and carefully descend the front of the left thigh, the back of the right leg and the base of the pelvis to the floor.

Article and graphic kindly contributed by YTF member and owner of Yoga Lova, Nadine Hurwitz.