Ardha Hanumanasana: Half Front Splits Pose

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Ardha hanumanasana (are-dah hah-new-mahn-AHS-ah-nah) is a big stretch for hamstrings. This pose is more approachable than full hanumanasana and strengthens the muscles needed to practice front splits safely with the correct muscles properly engaged.

Philosophy + Origin

One of the main characters of the Ramayana is Hanuman, the famous monkey god, devotee of Lord Rama, and son of Vayu (the god of wind). He is celebrated in the pose hanumanasana, which physically represents his famous “leap of faith,” taking him across the ocean from India to Sri Lanka. Ardha hanumanasana, the preparatory pose for hanumanasana, can represent the stability and strength needed to make grand, world-changing (or life-changing) gestures. Rather than only focusing on gaining flexibility, practice ardha hanumanasana to create a healthy balance of flexibility and strength. When practicing ardha hanumanasana, remind yourself of the dangers of only being flexible in life; in order to really get where you want to go, you must also be strong and stable.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Use blocks under your hands to help keep the torso upright and the spine long.
  • Keep your hands directly under the shoulders.
  • As flexibility increases, try walking your hands down the extended leg toward the feet.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Start in a lunge with your right foot forward and your back knee on the ground. Shift your hips back to stack over your left knee, and straighten your front leg to a place where you feel a stretch, but not strain.
  2. Flex your right toes toward your face so that the sole of your foot is off the mat. Place your hands directly under your shoulders, either on the floor or on blocks. Keep length in your spine, both front and back.
  3. Keep your right kneecap pointed directly up, with at least a small bend behind your knee to prevent hyperextension. Engage your quadriceps.
  4. Press down through your fingertips to keep length in the torso and engage the muscles in your belly.
  5. To deepen the stretch, begin to walk your hands toward your feet. As you work in the pose, focus on pulling the pinky toe of your right foot back towards your face and pressing forward with the ball of your foot right under the big toe.
  6. Hold the pose for up to 60 seconds before bending the front knee and returning to a lunge. Repeat on the other side.

PREPARATORY POSES:

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

COUNTER POSES:

SANSKRIT:

  • Ardha = Half
  • Hanuman = The monkey god
  • Asana = Pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Stretches hamstrings
  • Preparation for hanumanasana
  • Can increase awareness and stability through the pelvis

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Thought to encourage patience and devotion
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Urdhva Dhanurasana: Upward Facing Bow Pose

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Urdhva dhanurasana (OORD-vah don-your-AHS-ah-nah) is a deep backbend that can cultivate flexibility, strength, and patience.

Philosophy + Origin

Urdhva dhanurasana is thought to increase the vital life force in the body, specifically around the heart. When practiced regularly and with dedication, even if the “full” pose is never achieved, upward facing bow pose can awaken courage, compassion, and radiance in the mind and spirit.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Blocks on the wall: Place two blocks against a wall, about shoulder distance apart. Place your hands on the blocks as you move into urdhva dhanurasana to help elevate your upper body and better engage your shoulder blades.
  • Strap: Use a strap around your upper arms to prevent the elbows from splaying as you press upward.
  • Block: Place a block between your thighs to keep your lower body engaged.
  • One-legged: Try out eka pada urdhva dhanurasana by lifting up one leg at a time.
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