Monkey pose is an intense stretch that may take some getting used to, but with faith and practice, you can do it!
Monkey Pose (Hanumanasana) is named for a monkey god in Hindu mythology who jumped from the southern tip of India to Sri Lanka in one giant leap to rescue the wife of another deity. This pose (also known as Splits Pose or Front Split) offers an intense stretch for the legs, and while it appears fairly simple, it may be quite difficult for many people and will likely require a fair amount of practice to master.
Monkey pose stretches the thighs, hamstrings, hip flexors, and groin muscles, stimulates the abdominal organs and may help to relieve sciatica. This is a good pose for runners or cyclers, as it helps maintain flexibility in the muscles and joints of the lower body.
You should perform this pose on a bare floor without a yoga mat, and place a folded towel or blanket under the back knee and front heel. Go slow, use caution, listen to your body, and be careful not to go too far, as it is easy to over-stretch and injure yourself in this pose if you have tight hamstrings. Those with existing groin or hamstring injuries should not perform this pose.
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Beginners may start with a large bolster under the pelvis, and slowly allow the bolster to support you as you straighten your legs. You may also wish to place a yoga block under each hand for support.
Warm up before Monkey Pose by doing a warmup sequence of asanas such Sun Salutations or by doing some light jogging.
- Come to a kneeling position with the thighs perpendicular to the floor. Lower your hands to the floor in front of your knees. Tent your hands so you are up on your fingertips.
- Bring the right leg straight out in front of you with the heel on the floor. Flex your right foot strongly.
- Begin to slide the right foot forward, keeping the right leg straight until you have also extended the left leg as straight as possible behind you.
- Be sure to keep the hips parallel to one another and facing forward.
- You can keep the toes of the left foot tucked under or release the top of that foot to the floor.
- If you feel up to it, you can stretch your arms up overhead, and arch your back slightly for an added challenge.
- Hold the pose for 5 to 10 breaths, and then repeat on the other side.
- To come out, bend the right leg, come onto your left knee, and draw the right leg back toward the body.
Follow this pose with Chair Pose to reengage and realign your hips and spine.
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