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Monkey Pose (Hanumanasana)
With Dr Kiki Morriss
Monkey Pose is named after Hanuman, the Monkey God, who played a vital role in the epic Ramayama by reuniting Queen Sita with her beloved King Rama. Throughout South Asian culture Hanuman represents the qualities of bravery, strength, loyalty and devotion.
Hanuman was known for his epic leaps, and Monkey Pose resembles his most spectacular one. The advanced position demands considerable strength and flexibility, as the legs are split front to back with the torso balancing above the pelvis. Be patient with yourself as you practice Hanumanasana. Do not rush the pose and avoid being hasty in order to reach your goal. As the old proverb reminds us, ‘slowly, slowly catchy monkey’!
MOVING INTO THE POSE
- Initially place your hands on yoga blocks on either side of you to support your upper body.
- Flex your front hip and extend your back hip.
- Initially keep your knees slightly bent.
- Gradually lower into the pose as you straighten your legs.
FOCUS YOUR GAZE
- Your focal point (drishti) is at a fixed point straight ahead of you.
- Alternatively, close your eyes and draw your focus inwards or lift your eyes to gaze at your thumbs.
- Use your gluteus maximus, hamstring and adductor magnus to extend your back hip.
- Activate your erector spinae and quadratus lumborum to elevate your spine. l Use your quadriceps to straighten your back knee.
- Use your gastrocnemius and soleus (calf muscles) to point your back foot
- Use your quadriceps to straighten your back knee.
- Flex your front leg by using your psoas muscle.
- Activate your quadriceps to straighten your front knee.
- Feel the stretch of your hamstrings of your front leg
- Draw your front toes towards you by activating your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.
ARMS & SHOULDERS
- Activate your anterior deltoids to lift your arms on either side of your head.
- Press the palms of your hands together above your head.
- Straighten your arms by using your triceps.
- Use your infraspinatus and teres minor muscles (rotator cuff) to externally rotate your shoulders
- Soften your shoulders away from your ears by activating your lower trapezius muscles and focus on lengthening your neck
- Lift your chest and feel the stretch of your abdominal muscles.
- Keep your pelvis squared forwards.
- Avoid lifting your back hip.
- Avoid Hanumanasana if you have a knee, groin, hip, hamstring or ankle injury or issue.
- Do not practice Monkey Pose if you are pregnant.
BREATHING IN THE POSE
- Breathe five times in the pose. Keep your breath slow and steady
- Then repeat the pose on the other side.
- Improves your hip flexibility and range of movement.
- Improves flexibility in your hamstrings and calf muscles.
- Increases your core strength.
- Teaches you patience and endurance.
- Increases body awareness.
- Focuses your mind