How to Practice Hanumanasana – Splits Pose

Hanumanasana demonstration at at recent Yoga Alliance Accredited Yoga Teacher Training

It took me 8 years of yoga practice before I was able to get my pelvic floor to the ground in Hanumanasana – Splits Pose. Before that, I didn’t even think that it was something possible for my body. I literally said “I have guy hips, I’ll NEVER be able to do that.”

Since I believed that I would never be able to do it anyway, getting my pelvic floor to the ground in this pose wasn’t even a goal of mine. I simply worked the pose because it stretches your hamstrings and hip flexors, and I knew that I needed to loosen up my hips.

"I have guy hips, I'll NEVER be able to do that."

Lo and behold, I was certainly surprised when one day after a particularly intense hip opening practice, I found myself in what one could consider the “full” variation of the pose.

In the years since, I’ve come to realize that while the physical purpose of the pose is to open the hips, the true benefit of this work lies deeper… Through Persistence, Dedication, and Devotion you will be able to overcome more than you ever realized possible for yourself.

These are the true qualities and deeper benefit from your efforts towards this shape.

Instructions for Hanumanasana

From Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana

Half Splits – Ardha Hanumanasana

  • Step your R/L foot between your hands, and lower your back knee down.
  • Straighten your front leg and shift your hips back.
  • Ground your front heel down, dorsal flex your toes (towards you face), pull back on your R/L hip.
  • Keep a micro bend in your front knee (avoid hyper-extension).
  • Lengthen your chest forward, and fold over your front leg.
  • Bring your forehead towards your knee, or shin towards your shin.

Splits Pose – Hanumanasana

If you feel that you can progress beyond half splits, it’s best to take the next progressions in stages, feel out and take some breaths in each stage – even if you know you’re going to move further.

  • Slide your R/L heel towards the top R/L corner of the mat, and slide your L/R knee straight back.
  • Place your hands beneath your shoulders, and use your arm strength to help support your body weight up.
  • When you feel tightness in your hips, stop and take a couple of breaths.
  • Next place blocks beneath your hands, beneath your shoulders. Move from the highest  level of blocks down to the  lowest level of the blocks, and then eventually remove the blocks altogether. Take deep ujjayi breaths at each stage.

Tips: Don’t force yourself into the pose. Stop wherever you need to. You don’t need to press your body beyond it’s limits in order to receive the benefits of the pose.

You’ll feel more stability in your hips and spine if you can keep the hips squared forward, and core engaged to support length in your spine.

I like to keep engagement in my legs throughout the pose as opposed to over stretching anything. It’s as if I’m using my own muscular actions to keep my thighs firm and rooted into the hips.

I’ll often tuck the toes of the back foot and use the effort there to shift the back hip forward to remain squared with the hip of the front leg.

  • If your pelvic floor comes to the ground keep your legs engaged and reach your arms overhead.
  • Lengthen up through your waist, chest, and arms.
  • Exit the pose by turning away from your front leg where you’ll be able to transition into a Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana) or turn into runner’s lunge, and eventually back to Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) for side 2.

Remember, even though the pose stretches the hamstrings and hip flexors, one of the best benefits comes from the days, weeks, months, and years of your effort towards your best version of the shape – Persistence, Dedication, and Devotion.

Read More About Hanuman

I’ve personally read this translation of the Ramayana, and found it entertaining and easy to read. It is a modern retelling of the story of Prince Rama, and his epic tale of virtue, family, friendship, and overcoming great challenges. This story introduces us to Hanuman, the monkey God of Hundu Lore.

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