February 2010 Hanumanasana (Split Pose)

Posted By Mimi on Feb 1, 2010 in Blogs, O2 Yoga Blog |

Hanumanasana incorporates hip extension and hip flexion while maintaining a neutral spine. In other words, the 3 biggest challenges for most yogis/yoginis all wrapped up into one posture: multi-tasking and multi-challenging!

This asana is named after the monkey god, Hanuman, who leapt across the ocean in one jump spanning from one foot to another in a split to save Sita, Rama’s wife. Visualize the combination of grace, agility, strength, and fearlessness and you have the posture. Leaping across an ocean is for sure a leap of faith. Imagine the lightness and strength required, resisting gravity while expanding and extending, and you capture the essence of this pose.

On the physical level, many students and teachers focus too much attention on the hamstring of the front leg believing, incorrectly I think, that the hamstring is the limiting factor. In fact, the hip flexor of the back leg and the extension of the spine create a far greater challenge.

Most of us have at least 90 degrees of hip flexion. That would give you the front leg flat on the floor in front of you. Why then does it feel so difficult? The maximum hip extension for most bodies is 60 degrees. That is max and most of us have far less range of motion due to too much sitting and slouching. In order to get the other 30 degrees required to extend the leg flat behind us we must anteriorly tilt the pelvis. This puts the spine in extension, which requires a good deal of spinal and core strength, and also puts the front leg into further hip flexion. The hip flexion reaches into the maximum range of 120 degrees.

The key is to maintain as much balance between the front and back leg as possible, entering the pose while keeping the spine in neutral and both legs fully extended. I never said that it was going to be easy!

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