Hanumanasana or more widely known as the Splits can be a very challenging pose. It’s a deep stretch that will open your hips, hamstrings and quadriceps. It’s definitely one of those postures that takes time and patience to be able to master. So try these 5 simpler yoga poses that will prepare your body for the deep stretch of hanumanasana.
1. Head to Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana).
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Bend the right knee and bring the sole of your right foot lightly against your left thigh. Your right leg and knee should be comfortably pressed on the floor. Line your chest and navel with your left leg. Inhale and stretch your arms up to lengthen the spine. Exhale bend forward from the hip and reach forward as far as you are comfortable, towards your toes. Hold the pose for 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side. (You may use a strap if you need to).
2. Frog Pose (Mandukasana).
Starting in a tabletop position, make sure your shoulders are directly over your wrists and your hips are over your knees. Bring your elbows to the floor and slowly start to spread your knees wide apart. Make sure your ankles are directly behind the knees. Once you have widened your knees as you comfortably can, lower your hips towards the floor, while pressing them towards the back until you feel a stretch in your inner thighs and hips. You can rock backwards and forwards to feel more of a stretch. Keep your back straight with a neutral spine. Stay here for 5 breaths.
3. Half Monkey Pose (Ardha Hanumanasana).
Starting from Wide Stance Forward Bend, walk your hands to the right leg, bringing one hand to the floor on each side and drop down to your left knee. Straighten the right leg and flex your right foot, coming up onto the heel. Extend your toes back towards you and begin to straighten your right leg as much as you comfortably can. Keep your hips squared and directly stacked over your left knee. Inhale, lengthen the spine and exhale, fold forward over your right leg. Stay here for 5 – 10 breaths. Inhale come back up to wide stance forward fold and walk your hands to the left leg and repeat on left side. After 5 – 10 breaths, inhale come back up to wide stance forward fold.
4. Low Lunge (Anjeyanasana).
We can start off in Downward-Facing Dog, exhale and step forward with the right foot. Make sure your knee is directly above your ankle and don’t let the knee pass the ankle. Drop your left knee down to the floor. Slide the left knee back until you feel a comfortable stretch in the left front thigh and groin area. Bring the top of your left foot to the floor.
Bring your hands to the back side of your hips with the fingers facing upwards. With each inhale, open the chest up and with each exhale push the hips forward and down. Do this for at least 3 full breaths and switch sides.
5. Twisted Monkey.
Continuing from a low lunge position with the right foot forward and left knee down, lift the back foot up so that the toes point up toward the sky. Bring your right arm back to grab outside edge of the lifted foot. Gently, pull the foot in towards the body to stretch the quadriceps. Feel free to use a strap if you cannot reach your foot with your hand. Hold this pose for 5 breaths and release. Repeat the posture on the other side.
6. One-Legged Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana).
Again, starting in Downward-Facing Dog, inhale and bring your right leg up and exhale place your right knee behind your right wrist. Slowly bring the hips down towards the floor, keeping the hips squared and sliding the left foot back. Stay here between 5 – 10 breaths. Inhale straighten your right leg back up and exhale, come back down to downward facing dog and switch sides.
How did those postures feel? If you feel good and ready – you may now try the splits! Even if you are far from reaching the floor, there is no better way to successfully reach a full split than by slowly practicing the posture each day. You may use a block (or two) under the hip of the front leg to support the body. The extra height from the block allows you to practice the full expression of the posture, regardless of any stage of flexibility. Sit up tall and make sure the hips are squared. Keep the toes of the back foot tucked, hold for at least 5 breaths and repeat on the other side. Take your time with each posture and don’t rush any of your progress. Keep a daily practice and have patience, surely all will come with time and dedication. <3