Thursday, September 1, 2011

Humbled by Hanumanasana

September Pose of the Month
By Rebecca Merritt

This pose is named for the Hindu deity Hanuman, a devotee of Rama. During a great battle, Rama’s brother, Laksmana, falls ill and can only be cured by an herb growing in the Himalayan Mountains. It is thought that no one can make it to the mountains and back in time. However, because of his deep love and devotion for Rama, Hanuman is able to do the impossible and leap across India to the Himalayan Mountains. He does not know which herb to pick, so he brings the entire mountain back to Rama. The herb is found, and Laksmana is saved.

Occasionally we come across a pose that is more about the krama, or steps, than the actual peak expression. I believe Hanumanasana is such a pose. Full split is not something you just happen to slide into; it is a pose we work on, gain an inch, and work on some more. Hanumanasana is about the journey, and surrendering to the process. It is a pose that may seem unfeasible at first, but if you are devoted to the effort, there is no impossible. 

  • Stretches/strengthens hamstrings, thighs, hips, groin and legs
  • Helps prevent and treat pain of sciatica
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs and by increasing circulation
  • Develops concentration and will-power

How To:

 1. Begin in a lunge position. Lower the back knee to the floor. Bring the palms or fingertips to the floor, and draw the hips back to straighten the front leg; flex the front foot.

2. Slide the front leg forward. At the same time, sneak the back leg back an inch at a time.

3. Keep the hips squared to the front; continue to inch the front leg forward and the back leg back, slowly lowering the hips to the floor. Stop and hold when you reach your peak stretch breathing into the pose.

4. Once you have both legs straightened and fully supported by the floor, inhale the arms up overhead or bring the palms to prayer at heart center. Balance here.

5. Slowly come out of the pose by bringing the hands to the floor and sliding the front heel towards you. Repeat, bringing the opposite leg forward this time.

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