What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the splits (or Hanumanasana, in Sanskrit, after the Monkey God Hanuman)? Ouch? If so, you're not alone. This is a much dreaded and despised pose, but it really doesn't have to be! You may even be thinking, "why bother? I'm not naturally flexible so it's never going to happen," but that's not necessarily true. There are many modifications and steps you can take to work into this. Let's begin!
How to get there
How does this help our legs? Hanumanasana is a great pose for lengthening the leg muscles. It also stretches the inner thighs/groin area and loosens the hips. These things are crucial to mobility and making sure that we can still move around on our own two legs as we get older! Plus, it's a great party trick to whip out in the middle of a dance floor!
More often than not, I see yogis with uneven hips in this pose, and I'm guilty of that, too! It's easy to do and it's not so easy to know when you're doing it. It's also pretty common in Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Splits). Take a look below - do you see how in the picture on the left, the left side of my body is higher? I'm bent further over my knee here, but my hips are definitely not in line. In the picture on the right, I've lifted up a bit so that I can pull my front hip back in line and my back is more level.
As is the case in most hamstring stretches and hip openers, you will most likely either love or hate this pose. But if you hate it, I guarantee you will come to love it after more and more practice! Next time you practice the splits, notice if you're frowning or tensing up through your legs, shoulders, hips, or anywhere else, and then try to relax some of that tension so you can let some resistance go. It'll make the whole experience much more enjoyable, maybe even fun - I promise!
Hope you have a lovely, splits-filled weekend!
I’m Anahita Reilly, a Type-A, native Northern Virginian, happiness lover. This blog evolved out of my longstanding desire to share this beautiful thing called yoga with others. Click here to read more...