If there is one yoga posture that tests our patience, flexibility, and dedication, it is Hanumanasana, or the forward splits. Unless you are a dancer or gymnast, it can seem ridiculous to even attempt such a huge stretch that can take years to achieve, but therein lies the magic of the pose. While I doubt Hanumanasana is anyone’s favorite pose, we cannot ignore the physical, mental, and spiritual power that this posture can evoke.
The story behind the posture
No matter what our spiritual beliefs are, the stories derived from ancient Indian texts can inspire us as we journey through each posture. The posture, Hanumanasana, was named after Hanuman, a devotee of Rama, the king of India in the ancient Sanskrit text, the Ramayana. According to the story, a demon king abducted King Rama’s wife, Sita, and a huge battle began. During this battle, Hanuman was asked to help find Sita, and to find an herb that was needed to save King Rama’s brother who was wounded in battle. Hanuman was asked to do the impossible, and he questioned whether he could accomplish this task. The moment before his journey he remembered his own power and devotion, and was then able to take a gigantic leap across the Indian Ocean to rescue Sita. When he learned of Rama’s brother being wounded, he took another giant leap from India to the Himalayas, and picked up an entire mountain that the sacred herb was growing on, and carried it over his head as he leaped back to India to save Rama’s brother.
This story of courage and dedication can inspire us to stay committed as we practice this posture that resembles a giant leap. We might think such an opening is unachievable, but if we pause and connect to the power and devotion we have within ourselves, we can find the courage to try. After all, the postures that are the most challenging are always the ones that yield the greatest rewards.
Since Hanumanasana is an asymmetrical posture, it can be a tricky one to warm up to. It requires not only an opening on the hamstring of your front leg, but also a lengthening on the quadriceps of your back leg. The posture tests our will and patience, while accessing one of the tightest areas in our bodies, our groin and hips. The beauty of Hanumanasana as with any pose, is that as we continuously practice, we become more flexible, patient, and devoted people.
By Jackie Casal Mahrou
Jackie Casal Mahrou is a yoga instructor on yogadownload.com, and teaches Hatha, Vinyasa, and Restorative Yoga. Through her teaching and writing, she hopes to inspire as many as she can to live with grace, joy and gratitude. Read more about Jackie at yogadoesit.com.
Start practicing this pose today with these classes:
Hanumanasana Flow – Jackie Casal Mahrou
Qi Yoga 3 – Kylie Larson