Ananda Balasana: Happy Baby Pose
Ananda balasana (ah-NAHN-duh bah-LAHS-ah-nah) stretches the inner groin, hamstrings, and lower back. Invite the attitude of a joyful baby with this pose!
Philosophy and Origin:
Dasharatha, the King of Ayodhya, was a famous warrior and a protector of dharma (life purpose). He had three wives and no children. He longed for an heir, and Mother Earth was seeking a protector to save her bounty from unscrupulous and devious desires. Tradition teaches that as the wick of dharma burns low, Vishnu the preserver uses birth to set things right again. Mother Earth’s call meant that Vishnu would return.
After performing a sacrifice that yielded a golden milk pudding, the king was instructed to share this bounty with his wives with the promise of fertility and children. Each of his wives became pregnant and would give birth to all of his children. It is often thought that the divine is born into each person on a regular basis and unexpectedly, and we can understand this story as an allegory of how we treat our minds and bodies: avatars and other deities represent potentials waiting to be realized.
- Ananda: blissful, pure bliss
- Bala: baby
- Asana: pose
- Opens and stretches the hips.
- Stretches the inner groins and hamstrings.
- Lengthens the spine.
- Childs pose | Balasana
- Reclined hand to foot pose
- Cow face pose | Gomukhasana
- Reclined twist
- Bridge pose | Setu bandhasana
- Hold your ankles or shins.
- Place a blanket under your neck.
- Hold each foot with a yoga strap looped around the middle arch of each foot.
- Start on your back with your knees drawn in toward your chest.
- Grab hold of the pinky toe sides of your feet, with your elbows on the inside of your knees.
- Draw your shoulders toward the ground, tone your arms, and flex your feet as you pull down on your feet.
- Draw your knees wide and toward your armpits and try to stack ankles above knees.
- Lengthen your lower back down to the ground.
- Stay here for up to one minute, and then release and draw your knees into your chest.
Hanumanasana: Front Splits Pose
Hanumanasana (hah-new-mahn-AHS-ah-nah) honors the great leap made by Hanuman, the famous monkey god from the Ramayana, across the ocean from India to the mountains of Sri Lanka. Front splits pose demands flexibility, strength, and stability.
Philosophy + Origin
More than just an incredible leap, Hanuman is remembered, celebrated, and worshiped because of his great devotion and courage. To be devoted, one must be bold enough to stand firmly in their beliefs, selflessly serving others and putting others’ needs above their own.
Because of its physical demands, it’s easy to get caught up in “achieving” the outward appearance of the posture. As such, it’s important to keep your ego in check as you dedicate yourself to the posture. Above all, invite kindness and selflessness to flow freely from the posture. As you practice, ask yourself how you can embody Hanuman’s devotion both in your physical yoga practice and your everyday life.