Spotlight on: Front Splits AKA Hanumanasana
Today I want to shine a spotlight on:
AKA monkey pose AKA Front splits
This pose takes flexibility, strength, and stability. It teaches us patience and perseverance because it’s not something that happens over night. You have to work towards it consistently.
[Video at bottom of post, for class building to this pose.]
What's the story behind Monkey Pose aka Front Splits?
The pose is named after Hanuman, a Hindu deity who was said to resemble a monkey. As the story goes, Hanuman made a giant leap across the ocean from the tip of India to the mountains in Sri Lanka to rescue his friend’s wife from an evil demon. Hanuman is remembered and celebrated because of his courage and strength to do the right thing.
We can think of him and his giant leap of faith, when we are in this pose or anytime we are facing a situation in life that requires, guts, strength, and motivation.
Why should I do Front Splits?
Deeply Stretches hamstrings, and groin and hip flexors
Strengthens the muscles of the pelvic floor and abdomen.
Greater Body Awareness.
Helps Develop Patience and perseverance in the practice.
Why shouldn't I do this pose?
Avoid if you have an injury in the groin area, hamstrings, hips, knees, or ankles.
How should I warm up for Front Splits?
How can I make this front splits work for my body?
Half-Splits: provides nearly all the same benefits, stretching the leg muscles and opening hip flexors.
3 blocks. One under the hip of the front leg and one under each hand
If on hard surface, one blanket under knee and one blankets under front heel will provide cushion and help you slide into position
Slide bolster under pelvis or block under the hip of your forward facing leg to bridge the gap between you and the floor. Play with the positioning of your prop to find what height and placement supports you best.
How do I get into front splits?
From front low lunge, keep front toes engaged to turn on leg muscles and prevent hyper extension
Keep back toes curled for control to prevent injury.
Press into blocks or the floor , (hands in line with shoulders) as you lower slide your left knee back a few inches
Straighten your right leg forward, flexing your toes up toward the sky. If this is enough, Then this may be where you stop for now.
Slowly lower your hips down towards the floor, engaging core to control the speed.
If you can come fully down and ready to try the pose without the support of props, uncurl your back toes and find your balance here with both legs extending straight forward and back in a straight line
Breathe in this pose for as long as is comfortable. Keeping core engaged and chest open, gaze out at eye level, hugging your inner thighs towards each other.
If you feel stable option to bring your hands into anjali mudra (hands at heart center) or straight overhead.
To release the pose shift weight into hands, press into the blocks and use your core strength to lift and bend your your legs, sliding back into a lunge position. Give a try with the other side.
Things to remember:
Listen to your body. Never force yourself further then your body will allow.
It doesn’t matter whether your pelvis touches the floor or not. As always listen to your body, and push only as much as it can go. The key is to always pick up the signs your body gives, and stop when it asks you to.
Use your leg muscles to support your pelvis. By hugging your inner thighs towards each other and pressing your legs down, not only will it help to stretch your pelvis up, but it will also help engage your hamstrings and support your joints.
Keep the muscles actively engaged. To help, use the back foot to press actively into the floor. As your back leg engages, feel the shoulder blades firm against your spine, which will lengthen both the front and back of your torso.
Focus on pulling your thigh bones into your hip sockets. This will activate the muscles around your hips and thighs to build strength.