Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose)

Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose)


What is Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose)?

Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose)

Hanumanasana, or Monkey Pose, is an excellent hip-opener yoga pose for advanced-level yogis. This pose will increase the blood circulation in your legs and help you gain flexibility and strength in your leg muscles. 

This pose is not ideal for beginners and should only be performed by intermediate-to-advanced yogis with good hip opening strength in their lower body. 

You’ll start from a seated position by activating your inner thighs and glutes. While focusing on your breath, you’ll gently extend your legs on both sides as far as your body allows. 

Monkey pose increases blood flow in the legs and helps relieve tension. 

The name Hanumanasana comes from the Sanskrit words 'Hanuman' meaning Hindu Monkey God, and 'Asana' meaning pose or posture. 

In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Hanuman is one of the main characters. Hanuman is the son of Vayu (The Wind God) and nymph Anjana, and he is known as a passionate devotee of Lord Ram. 

Lord Hanuman was blessed with magical powers, like transforming his body from extremely small to enormous. He could travel across oceans by flying, was powerful like a rock, and flexible like a monkey.

So, to symbolize Lord Hanumans' mobility, strength, and flexibility, the Seated Split pose is named after him.   

There is no detailed description of Hanumanasana in any ancient Hatha yoga texts, which tells us that Monkey pose is a modern yoga pose. It was first introduced in the late 20th century in the 1970 book ‘First Steps to Higher Yoga’ by Swami Yogesvarananda. 

Sanskrit Name: हनुमानासन            Pronunciation: hah-nu-mahn-ahs-anna

Pose Type: Seated Splits, Hip-Opener      Also known as: Monkey Pose

Strengthens: Inner Thighs, Hip-Flexors, Glutes, Groin, Hamstrings, and Spine  

Stretches: Inner Thighs, Hip-Flexors, Glutes, Groin, and Hamstrings

Health Benefits of Hanumanasana

  • Improves posture.

  • Enhances flexibility. 

  • Tones the leg muscles. 

  • Boosts the nervous system. 

  • Soothes the spine, back, and neck. 

  • Opens the psoas muscle and groin. 

  • Stretches, strengthens, and lengthens the body.

  • Stimulates the functions of reproductive organs. 

  • Enhance blood circulation in the spine and tailbone area. 

  • Activates the Sacral and Root chakras for improved hormonal balance. 

When to Avoid Performing Hanumanasana

  • Avoid if you have severe lower back pain.

  • Avoid if you are experiencing heavy menstrual pain. 

  • Avoid if you have recently undergone surgery or you’re recovering from an injury.

  • Avoid if you have inflammatory hip-joint arthritis or a weak tailbone.

  • Avoid practicing this pose alone as a beginner. Ask for professional guidance. 

How to do Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose)

Hanumanasana is a powerful lower-body stretch that can be overwhelming to learn. So, we’ve provided a step-by-step posture guide. Take a look below:

Part 1 - Preparatory Poses for Hanumanasana

Warm up by stimulating blood circulation in your glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs, ankles, and spine. 

1. Malasana (Yogi Squat) - This pose is excellent for activating the entire lower body, as well as the spine. Start by standing in Mountain pose for a few deep breaths. Squat deeply with your legs wider than shoulder-width apart. 

Malasana (Yogi Squat)

Keep your spine straight, bring your arms close to your chest in Anjali Mudra, and make sure your elbows are pushing your legs out to increase the intensity of the stretch. Maintain this pose for 1 to 2 minutes, then release it. 

2. Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose) - 

Stand in Mountain pose, and then step your right leg forward, bend both legs and squat down in a low lunge position by placing your left leg behind you on the mat.

Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose)

Inhale and extend both arms over your head and feel your upper and lower body opening up. Repeat this on the other side and then release. 

Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Hanumanasana

The following are steps to practice Monkey pose: 

Step 1- Start in Samasthiti, inhale, and lift your arms up in Mountain pose. 

Step 2- Exhale and bend forward into Uttansana. Gently lift halfway up and look forward. 

Step 3- Next, inhale and exhale as you extend your feet behind you one by one into Plank pose. 

Step 4- Inhale deeply, curl in your toes and lift your hips into Downward-Facing Dog. 

Step 5- Step your right foot forward, place your left knee on the ground and get into Cescent Moon pose. Keep your back straight, hips square, and spine straight in this pose.

Step 6- Keep breathing, and gently straighten your right leg in front. Place your glutes square on the mat and extend both legs straight on each side. 

Step 7- Take a deep breath, straighten your spine, and extend your arms overhead and join your palms. 

Step 8- Hold this pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths, then release. Repeat the same on your left side, and then relax in Child's pose. 

Breath Awareness: 

  • Inhale - When in Mountain pose, Downward-Facing Dog pose, Crescent Moon pose, and when your arms are overhead in Monkey pose.

  • Exhale - While relaxing in Uttansana or a Child’s pose. 

  • Inhale & Exhale - While transitioning in the flow or holding the stretch for a longer duration. 

Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold Monkey pose for 15 to 30 seconds.

Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold Monkey pose for 60 to 90 seconds.

Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind

It’s important to keep a few things in mind before practicing Monkey pose: 

  • Avoid overextending: If your hamstrings or inner thighs feel too tight to stretch in the Hanumanasana pose, avoid overextending your muscles. Make sure your legs, groin, and glute muscles are warmed up and open. 

  • Keep your hips square: Keeping your hips square means that when your glutes are placed on the ground in the split position, both glutes are touching the ground. Also make sure your spine is aligned straight so that your upper body weight is equally distributed on each of your glute muscles. 

  • Tighten your core: Loose core muscles can create a shaky foundation, making it hard to hold the stretch for longer. An engaged core will help you stabilize your seated Monkey position and support your transition into Over-Head Extended Arms Hanumanasana with more control. 

Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Hanumanasana

Follow the below counterpose sequences to unwind tension from your legs and spine after your Hanumanasana pose practice:  

1. Eka Pada Kapotasana (Sleeping Pigeon Pose) - From a Downward-Facing Dog stance, bring your right leg forward in between your palms. Bend your right leg so your shin is aligned straight with your yoga mat. Keep your left leg straight and extended behind you. 

Eka Pada Kapotasana (Sleeping Pigeon Pose)

Square your glutes and place them on the mat. Squeeze your inner thighs together, inhale and extend both arms overhead. Now, exhale and bend your torso forward over your front leg on the ground. 

Hold the pose on each side until your spine and glutes feel cozy and relaxed. 

2. Ananda Balasana (Reclining Happy Baby Pose) - This pose will help you release any remaining tension in your legs, pelvis, or glutes, and bring your spine back to its neutral shape. 

Ananda Balasana (Reclining Happy Baby Pose)

Inhale, lie down on your back, and grab the outside edges of your feet while bending your legs. Exhale and press your back, core, and legs close to the ground. 

Hold here for a few seconds. If your glutes or tailbone feels stiff, add a rocking motion to your Happy Baby posture to loosen up any tight areas. 

Hanumanasana Modifications and Props

If your legs and pelvis are not flexible enough to perform Hanumanasana, try the following pose modifications with props. 

  • Add a yoga bolster: Get a bolster or pillow and tuck it between your pelvis and the ground. This will minimize the intensity of the flex. 

Add a yoga bolster

Plus, adding a bolster pillow underneath your hips will help you increase the duration of your hold without causing any pain in your lower body. 

  • Add yoga blocks: If it’s challenging for you to split both legs at your sides and place your glutes on the ground. Start from Ardh Hanumanasana and add two yoga blocks in a high position at the sides of your mat. 
Add yoga blocks

Hold the blocks and gently start to scooch your legs in each direction. In no time, you’ll develop the flexibility to split wide in Hanumanasana, since the blocks add more stability and ease to your posture – making it the perfect modification for learning this pose. 

Hanumanasana Variations to Consider

Depending upon your level of ability, choose a Monkey pose variation that works for you: 

1. Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Monkey Pose) - This is an easy variation of Hanumanasana. From the Downward-Facing Dog pose, bring your left foot forward between your palms. You can also use yoga blocks under your palms if you need to minimize the intensity of this stretch. 

Bend and place your leg behind you on the floor. With your left leg straight in front, sit slightly back toward your right heel. 

Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Monkey Pose)

Feel the stretch in your pelvis, spine, hamstrings, inner thighs, and glutes as you lean your torso over your left leg. If you’re a beginner, perform this on each side for 20 to 30 seconds. 

2. Half Monkey Pose (Forward Bend Variation) - Continue performing Ardha Hanumanasana, inhale and extend both arms overhead. Exhale and extend your torso over your left leg in front. 

Half Monkey Pose (Forward Bend Variation)

Beginners will find this stretch to be an excellent way to activate their glutes and hamstrings. It is recommended to hold this pose regularly for 30 to 90 seconds on each side for better flexibility. 

3. Full-Monkey Pose (Forward Bend Variation) - 

You'll love this variation if you're an advanced yogi who’s looking for a challenge. Start from seated Hanumanasana pose, inhale and extend both arms over your head, and hold the pose here for a few seconds.

Full-Monkey Pose (Forward Bend Variation)

Finally, exhale and start to lean forward. Reach your head to your knee and hold your front foot with your hands. Hold this variation for 60 to 90 seconds on each side. 

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Level-Up Poses After Hanumanasana for Advanced Yogis

Adding some advanced split variations to your Monkey pose practice will take your lower body flexibility to the next level. Here are some level-up split poses for you to try: 

Level-Up Pose 1 - Parivrtta Hanumanasana (Revolved Monkey Pose)

Level-Up Pose 2 - Hanumanasana Variation (Monkey Pose With Backbend Variation)

Level-Up Pose 3 - Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (Standing Split)

Level-Up Pose 4 - Hanumanasana Variation (Monkey Pose Aerial Variation)

Parivrtta Hanumanasana (Revolved Monkey Pose)

Parivrtta Hanumanasana (Revolved Monkey Pose)

Hanumanasana Variation (Monkey Pose With Backbend Variation)

Hanumanasana Variation (Monkey Pose With Backbend Variation)

Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (Standing Split)

Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (Standing Split)

Hanumanasana Variation (Monkey Pose Aerial Variation)

Hanumanasana Variation (Monkey Pose Aerial Variation)

Similar Seated Hip Opener & Split Poses like Hanumanasana

Here are a few more intermediate-to-advanced yoga asanas which can help you tone around your legs and strengthen your lower body: 

  1. Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

  2. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

  3. Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head to Knee Pose)

  4. Parivrtta Upavistha Konasana (Revolved Seated Angle Pose)

  5. Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angled Seated Forward Bend Pose)

Frequently Asked Questions about Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose)

What is Hanumanasana good for?

Can beginners perform Hanumanasana?

What are the different preparatory poses in Hanumanasana?

What are the benefits of Hanumanasana?

What are the different variations in the Hanumanasana pose?

What is Ardha Hanumanasana?

Who should not perform Hanumanasana?

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