Essential Sequence: Open into Hanumanasana

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.

See also Twist Into Eka Pada Koundinyasana I

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 (MONKEY POSE) SEQUENCE

Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose) Yoga Sequence

{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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7 Comments

  1. Love the Peak Pose Sequence. Thank you so much for sharing!
    Namaste

    Reply
  2. 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.

    Reply
  3. 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

    Reply
  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on 30-minute sequence.

    Regards

    Reply
  5. Thank you Jason! Everytime I practice this pose I feel a bit confused about what to do after. Sometimes I spend some time in balasana and down dog and then some paschimottanasana and wide legged forward bends..or some other times I follow with bridge and urdhva dhanurasana. How do you recommend to finish this sewuence? Thank you! Namaste!

    Reply
    • Thanks for writing, Nirmaljeet. Honestly, I think you’re following Hanumanasana perfectly. The pose prepares the body for forward bends, and the pose prepares the body for back bends. So, the way you’re following-up this postures is perfectly reasonable to me!

      Reply
      • Thank you so much for your reply and clearing up this doubt Jason!:)

        Reply

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