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Ahh, the splits. I had always been disappointed in my inability to do the splits (hanumanasana in Sanskrit), especially after taking a whopping FOUR gymnastics classes as a kid. ???????? When I first started yoga I still never thought I’d be able to do them. And then one day, without having been working on them in particular, I slid my front foot forward, and it just happened!
Have a couple of blankets or towels around while you practice this one, it makes it so much easier. Make sure your body is warmed up. Do a few rounds of Sun C to warm the muscles. Variations of pigeon and lizard pose will help to sufficiently warm up your hip flexors. Prasarita forward fold, badha konasana, uttanasana, paschimottanasana will all help to warm and open the hamstrings. Here’s a good sequence from Noah Maze to prepare for hanumanasana.
I personally like to come into this pose from a low lunge or lizard. From a low lunge, place a blanket or towel under your front foot. If you’re using a mat, come to the top of your mat so that your front foot (with blanket or towel) is on the bare floor.
Take a deep inhale, and as you let it go, begin to slide your front heel forward as you soften the front of the opposite hip. Stop just before you reach your edge – don’t push yourself too much in this (or any) pose, your hamstrings will thank you later.
work within the pose
- Direct your shoulders to face front, drop them away from your ears
- Palms can come together at heart center, or arms can raise overhead (more challenging)
- Your front leg will want to splay out (externally rotate) so that your hips are uneven. Ensure your hips are square and that your front knee points toward the ceiling – this may mean that you don’t go as low, but that’s ok! Strength and flexibility build in increments.
- Ensure your back leg is straight and the foot isn’t sickling out to either side
- Press front heel to the front of the room
- Play with flexing and pointing your feet
- If you can safely come into the full expression of the pose, continue to root your pelvis down
- Stretches hamstrings, groins, hip flexors
- Increases flexibility & stamina
- Strengthens abdomen
- Strengthens pelvic floor
- If the full expression of the pose isn’t possible (i.e., you don’t come all the way down with both hips square), then pad a blanket or towel underneath the lower hip to balance both sides.
- Fold over the front leg
- From hanumanasana with the arms overhead, begin to lift more through the chest. When you can’t achieve any more height, begin to bend back from the crown of the head, continuing to lift through the chest and press your back ribs forward without compressing the low back.
- Blocks under each hand can help stabilize while you gain the flexibility to come further toward the floor
- If you’ve got the splits down and you want to increase the range of motion, take a block under the front and the back foot, adjusting the height to suit your particular needs
- Standing splits against the wall can help to gain further flexibility in the pose
splits – hanumanasana