In our September Alignment Flow Series we focused on Yoga Tales: The myths and stories that connect us to ourselves and our world.
In week one, we explored Hanumanasana, and an example of the prep and care we can take during the class in order to prepare for and approach the peak pose safely.
Here’s an extract from one of our classes, the story behind Hanumanasana:
Rama, the Ancient King of India was faced with a problem. The demon King in Sri Lanka, Ravana, had kidnapped Rama’s wife, Sita. During the battle to rescue Sita, Rama’s brother Laksmana was severely wounded. The only way to save his life was with a herb that only grew in the Himalayas.
Retrieving this herb in time to save his brother was an impossible task. Rama’s greatest devotee was Lord Hanuman, who set out to accomplish the impossible task. Hanuman took a mighty leap that stretched all the way from Sri Lanka to the Himalayas. Unsure of which herb to pick, he carried the entire mountain with him, making another massive leap back to the battlefield. The herb was found on the mountain and healers were able to save Laksmana’s life.
How to do Hanumanasana (monkey pose/ full splits):
Step 1. Begin by kneeling on the floor. Step right foot forward and align the knee and ankle. You should begin to feel a stretch in the front of the left hip and a deep stretching sensation in the right hip.
Step 2. Bring your hands onto the mat or onto yoga blocks (or books). Begin to straighten your right leg until you feel the stretch in the right hamstring. Move your hips to the back of your mat and lengthen your spine whilst bringing the head and chest to the front of your mat.
Step 3. Curl your back foot and begin to walk the left foot to the back of your mat. Straighten the leg to your capacity. Use a cushion, blocks or bolster as support under your right and/or left leg.
Step 4. Check that your hips are stable by engaging your pelvic floor muscles and abdominal muscles. This should encourage your hips to face the front of your mat. Extend your arms up towards the ceiling and take 5-10 breaths.
Step 5. To move out of the shape, place your hands back on the mat. You can either roll toward your right hip and glut or swing the left leg forward. Alternatively, you can activate your pelvic floor, re-bend your right knee, place your hands on the mat and step back to downward facing dog.
“Power comes from Devotion. We know this can be felt when we dedicate ourselves to something that is important to us. That could be your yoga or meditation practice, maybe it’s another skill you want to master, perhaps it is devotion to your family or your fur babies. Sometimes, being brave and taking a risk in life takes a massive leap of faith, which is also reflected in this story. This can take courage, strength and dedication.” Quoted by one our teachers Shaye Hickey.