Hanumanasana, or split pose, is one of the most difficult postures both to access and to teach properly. There are a million “cheats,” but doing it with alignment in mind will help you in everything you do in yoga. Anatomically, hanumanasana hip flexion in the front and hip extension on the back leg. Believe it or not, most of us can get our front leg into 90 degrees of hip flexion no problem. The problem is trying to do it with the other leg extended 90 degrees in back. Once again, the hip flexor and even spinal flexors are at odds with the posture. The other thing to think about is this posture’s beautiful symmetry. It is a pose and a counterpose all in one. It is challenging (stira) but also requires some release (sukha) to really get near it. I am looking forward to playing with this pose in its many variations.
“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).
Hanumanasana mimics the monkey god’s famous leap from the southern tip of India to the island of Sri Lanka. Talk about a leap of faith! This posture is about the path, not the end point. Many of us will never reach the full expression of the pose, but working towards it is really where the practice lies. Besides, once you “get” this pose, just imagine what would be next. Let’s stay humble and in the moment shall we?