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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Prasarita Padottanasana: Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Prasarita padottanasana (pra-sa-REE-tah pah-doh-tahn-AHS-an-uh) is a big stretch for the hamstrings and inner leg line. With many variations available, this pose is accessible for most practitioners. This is also a great pose in lieu of headstand.

Philosophy + Origin

Prasarita padottanasana has found its way into almost every style of yoga. B.K.S. Iyengar taught several variations of this posture, labeling them as A, B, C, and D. The most commonly practiced variation is prasarita padottanasana A. Prasarita padottanasana B is when the hands are on the hips and the head is lifted off the ground, not resting on the mat. Prasarita padottanasana C is the variation where the hands are interlaced and stretched behind the back and over the head as you fold. In the final variation taught by Iyengar, prasarita padottanasana D asks the student to grasp the big toe on each foot.

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