For exclusive access to all our stories, including sequences, teacher tips, video classes, and more, join Outside+ today.
PREVIOUS STEP IN YOGAPEDIA 3 Ways to Prep for Hanumanasana
SEE ALL ENTRIES IN YOGAPEDIA
Hanuman = Monkey God/Chief · Asana = Pose
Stretches your hamstrings and psoas and iliacus (hip flexors); the dual challenges of this pose demand a level of presence and precision that focuses and quiets your mind.
Begin in Downward-Facing Dog. Step your left foot forward between your hands so your toes are in line with your fingertips. Drop your right knee to the mat, and point your toes behind you. Pin your front hip back and in to square your hips, and drop your tailbone toward the floor to lengthen your right hip flexors. Draw your hands back until they are beneath your shoulders. Come onto your fingertips (or place your hands on blocks) so that your chest can remain lifted and open while keeping your front ribs soft.
Shift your hips back so that they stack over your right knee. Carefully move your left foot forward to straighten your left leg, keeping your hips squared toward the front of your mat. Extend your sternum forward and up.
Start to slide your left foot forward. Establish your Tadasana pelvis by pinning your left hip back into your midline, pressing energetically with your left big-toe mound to keep your left leg from externally rotating. You may also need to gently roll the right side of your pelvis forward so that your hips are squared to the front of your mat—tucking your toes will help you find this alignment. Release the flesh of your buttocks away from your waist, and gently tone the pit of your abdomen to find a lift in the front of your pelvis. Your pelvis will also travel forward in space, but it will not change position or spill forward. Don’t allow your left hip to follow your left foot or your right thigh to externally rotate. Draw your lower belly in and up. Press into the floor with your right big-toe mound, maintaining a neutral right leg with your inner thigh spinning toward the ceiling and your hip rotating forward. As your legs open like a pair of scissors, use your hands on the floor beside your hips to guide the transition.
See also Let’s Twist Again
Keep sliding until the back of your left thigh and the front of your right thigh come to the floor, building upon the earlier work of lengthening your hamstrings and hip flexors. If you are able to maintain square hips while deepening the pose, point your right toes and raise your arms beside your ears. Expand in every direction from the integrity of your center: Press forward with your left big-toe mound as you extend back with your right toes; enthusiastically reach your fingertips toward the ceiling, lifting and opening your heart. As the energy of the pose moves outward, continue to cultivate the quality of balanced stillness (the essence of Tadasana). The ability to remain collected at your center, even as you spread your wings, is the ultimate yoga practice. Hold for 10–12 breaths, then retrace your entrance, returning to Downward-Facing Dog Pose. Repeat on the other side.
See also Tara Stiles’ Splits Sequence
As your left foot and pelvis move forward and your legs straighten, it is essential to sustain your Tadasana pelvis (your pelvis is square to the wall in front of you and the two sides of your torso are equally long). When your pelvis is misaligned, either because it is uneven or spills too far forward, your SI joint and lumbar spine become vulnerable to strain.
If you haven’t yet found openness to bring both thighs to the floor while maintaining a Tadasana pelvis, place a block, blanket, or bolster beneath your upper front thigh, and continue to use your hands for support. Never force the pose beyond the capacity of your hamstrings and hip flexors; it can overstretch and pull these muscles.
See also Poses for Your Pelvis
About Our Pro
Teacher and model Natasha Rizopoulos is a senior teacher at Down Under Yoga in Boston, where she offers classes and leads 200- and 300-hour teacher trainings. A dedicated Ashtanga practitioner for many years, she became equally as captivated by the precision of the Iyengar system. These two traditions inform her teaching and her dynamic, anatomy-based vinyasa system Align Your Flow. For more information, visit natasharizopoulos.com.