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Essential Sequence: Open into Hanumanasana

First, a quick, shameless plug: I’ve just announced the dates and location for my 2017 Advanced Teacher Trainings. You can check here for more information and register at LoveStory Yoga. OK, now onto the regularly scheduled program.

Do you remember sliding easily into Hanumanasana (which you likely called “the splits”) when you were a kid? If you don’t, not to worry — I don’t either! It’s a pose that can still give me a challenge depending on the day, but over many years of practice, I’ve learned to find a safe, comfortable, and exhilarating place for my body to land.

When you first attempt Hanumanasana, you might focus a lot on your front leg and how tight it feels. You might think you need to spend exorbitant amounts of time stretching, stretching, stretching your hamstrings. But Hanumansana requires flexibility in both the front and back legs. The front leg requires hamstring suppleness, and the back leg requires openness in the hip flexors. When you can find a balance stretched between the front and back legs in Hanumanasana, you’ll find a balanced pose.

I always tell students that it doesn’t matter if your pelvis touches the floor in this pose — in fact, it doesn’t matter if your pelvis is miles away from the floor! Instead of jamming your body toward the floor (a recipe for back pain and other miseries), try to find a level pelvis, where you’re not tucking or overarching your lower back. Support yourself with props as you do this — you can stack blocks or a bolster or couch cushions underneath your pelvis for support. And don’t forget to use your leg muscles to support your endeavor — hug the inner thighs in toward each other and press your legs down into the floor to help you lift the pelvis and engage your hamstrings. It may seem counterintuitive to use your muscles while you’re stretching, but it will help keep your joints and the pose more supported.

Have fun and think of embodying the spirit of the pose’s namesake, the Hindu monkey God Hanuman as you lift your arms and breathe deeply in the pose.

To learn how to create essential sequences of your own, I encourage you to check out my e-course, The Art of Yoga Sequencing. And, as always, please sign up for my mailing list if you want to get a monthly reminder when new sequences go up. Have fun practicing!

Hanumanasana Yoga Sequence

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{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}



4 Comments

  1. Hi,

    I wanted to ask you for some advices. My husband, he had a sciatic nerve pain from herniated disc long time a goeS. I suggest him to start doing yoga. Unfortunately, it’s irritate his nerve more than usual. What would you suggest to do ?

    Ps: we start with breathing exercise—> pelvic tilt —> cat cow pose—> one leg lift /—> needle pose some standing twist … always need to stop since the muscle spasm. Please kindly help us.

    thank you so much and looking forward to hear from you soon.

    Darlina.

  2. Can you isolate the poses that cause pain? I used to have sever lower back problems. Tai chi has helped a lot. I still do stretching exercises, but I avoid poses that put strain on my lower back. Experiment. As far as I am concerned, not all yoga poses are healthy. In fact, many people have gotten hurt doing yoga poses. Proceed with caution, and eliminate exercises that cause pain. Good luck. Tom

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