Yoga Monkey Posture is the splits. Most of our hips cannot touch the floor unless we are sitting squarely on our sitting bones. Yet we can enjoy the benefits of Hanumanasana, Monkey pose with the help from our friends, props. Let’s explore.
Start in Runner Pose right knee forward and the back knee on the floor. Settle here, checking that the shoulders are away from the ears and the torso held upright with those inner abdominal muscles engaged. Warm up legs and torso by bending and straightening the front leg inhaling as you bend and come forward and exhaling as you straighten. How can you make the experience more of an adventure? Can you make cat-like movements to free the upper back?
If the back knee is uncomfortable, cushion the knee. If your hips and hands cannot reach the floor, let’s use blankets, pillows, bolsters, blocks to bring the floor up to hips and hands. Place the bolster horizontally under the hips and the blocks under the hands. Have music playing to help create mood.
With the core muscles engaged and hands on floor or blocks, exhaling and without pushing or forcing slowly slide your right heel forward and your back leg back a few times. Take your time as you continue to slide the feet further away from each other, checking that (1) you are dropping your weight into the bolster; (2) your spine continues to lengthen up with abdominal support and (3) breathing is deep.
Alignment – Draw the front hip backwards and the back hip forwards to square the hips. Exhale up the back as you draw the sternum in to lift the rib cage evenly. If you choose to lean forward from the hips, what happens when you keep shoulders broad? Can you lengthen through the crown of the head?
Work in the Pose – As you feel more stable, you might wish to bring your hands in prayer position at the heart. If you are settled here with torso upright, you could while inhaling slowly raise the hands together overhead. Can you witness and breathe into the tensions to encourage release?
After “resting” in the pose, to exit use the hands and abdominal muscles and moving slowly lift hips and bend the front knee to return to lunge. Take a few breaths here then rest in Child’s pose or Virasana. Repeat on the other side.
Yoga Monkey Posture stretches the hamstrings and hip flexors, and is available to those who cannot do the splits with the help of bolsters, blankets and blocks to bring the floor up to the hips.
Heather Greaves is an avid yoga student and the owner of Body Therapies Yoga Training. She organizes annual yoga and meditation retreats and workshops in Ontario and Barbados, and has been helping yoga enthusiasts learn to teach yoga in a certified program. For more yoga tips or to sign up for our monthly newsletter visit http://www.yogatogo.com