Hanumanasana symbolizes the greatest "leap of faith" in all the Hindu epics. With steady practice of this pose, you will open the groins and hamstrings enough to make every other sitting pose seem easy.
(Pronounced as "hah-new-MAHN-AHS-anna")
In the "Ramayana" epic, Hanuman is the son of the wind god and has incredible strength. As the leading general of the monkeys in the war to rescue Lord Rama's wife Sita, Hanuman jumps through the air from India to Sri Lanka in one great leap, inspired by his loving dedication to serving Lord Rama. Just as Hanuman made the greatest leap ever taken, here you spread your legs apart to your maximum capacity to imitate this divine leap. With patience, perseverance and faith in your potential for flexibility, you can conquer this posture.
It is advisable to keep some folded blankets close by the first time you attempt this pose. That way, you can easily grab them and position them under your legs wherever you need extra support.
Kneel down on your yoga mat but do not sit on your heels. Remain upright. Now place your palms on the mat about one foot away from each of your sides near your hips. Bring your right foot one step forward.
Slide the left leg back with the top of your left foot remaining in full contact with the floor. Extend your right leg straight in front of you by extending through your right heel. Breathe normally, sliding your legs further apart inch by inch on your exhalations as you lean slightly forward. Use your hands as a support to help you balance.
As you gradually straighten both legs, try to keep the hips up with the support of your hands. When you have slid your legs as far apart as you can, then let your hips and pelvis descend to the mat or down onto your supporting blankets. The middle of your right knee should face straight up to the ceiling.
With daily practice, you can eventually rest both of your straightened legs completely down on the mat. The goal is to allow your buttocks to touch the ground. The back part of your front leg and the front of your back thigh should maintain full contact with the floor. As you refine your pose, make sure that both legs are directly in line with your hips without angling out to either side of you.
Hold this posture for 30 seconds or up to a minute. Press your hands into the floor by your sides to help lift yourself up and out of the pose. Come out of the posture by slowly reversing the steps you took to come into it. Now bring your left foot forward and repeat the pose on the other side for the same amount of time.
Injuries less than three months old in your knees, groin or hamstrings
At first, tightness in the hamstrings and groins prevents the pelvis from descending all the way down to the floor. To help your muscles gradually stretch open into the pose without over-straining them, place a bolster under your pelvis. As you push your legs apart, let your weight rest down on the bolster for support. You can adjust the height to suit your needs by adding blankets on top of the bolster or in front and behind it as well.
After you have reached your maximum stretch in this pose, lift your shoulder blades up into your back and stretch both of your arms up straight to the ceiling. Bring your palms together in Anjali Mudra, the symbol of salutations, above your head. Push the head of your back leg down toward the floor as you lengthen and slightly arch your spine up from your pelvis all the way up through your fingertips.
After your partner helps you lift your arms up to expand your torso, keep your sternum lifted as you bend forward over your front leg. Grab your front foot with both of your hands, putting your head down on your knee last. Hold this posture for 20 seconds. Then inhale as you come up.
Once you have positioned yourself to sit down as low as you can in the pose, ask a partner to stand beside you. Reach both of your arms straight up in the air with your fingers pointing up to the ceiling. Have your partner grab your shoulders and pull them slightly up to help you expand your torso and chest up. Then you focus on letting your side ribs sink down toward the floor as your partner next grabs your elbows and pulls you up a little. Finally, they should grab your wrists and give a slight pull upward while also tugging your arms back slightly behind your head to give full expansion to your shoulders.
The best way to learn yoga is to take lessons from a professional teacher. Want to see the yoga classes near you?