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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Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose

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ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Bhujangasana (boo-jang-GAHS-anna) is a great way to strengthen the upper back and is often practiced as part of a transition back to downward-facing dog in vinyasa yoga. Practicing cobra pose regularly can improve your lung capacity, reduce stress, and stimulate many of the internal organs in your body.

Philosophy + Origin

Although often perceived as evil or dangerous, snakes also have a rich history of power and worship. In some yoga traditions, the energy of kundalini is represented by a serpent resting coiled at the base of the spine. By awakening this snake, we enliven our body’s energy and create a pathway towards enlightenment. This connection with enlightenment is also seen in many portrayals of the Buddha where he is shown with a cobra over his head.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Option to swap cobra pose for sphinx pose by placing your forearms on the floor.
  • Lengthen the back of the neck to avoid straining the neck and upper back.
  • If you experience discomfort in the lower back, bend the elbows more.
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