There is something so awesome about being able to do the splits. I get a big surge of satisfaction when my butt-bones hit the floor and my long legs are reaching out in opposite directions. “I did it!” I scream inside my head while keeping my calm, nonchalant yoga-face on. While it is a great feeling to finally be able to do such a challenging pose, we should all be very weary such an ego-driven and ridiculous attitude. If you force yourself down to the floor, there is a very good chance for a hamstring, hip-flexor or adductor injury. The key to Hanumanasana is to move slowly with proper alignment, and stay connected to the breath. Practice the following postures to open the hip flexors, hamstrings and lower back so that you ease your way gradually and safely into the splits.
High lunge (anjaneyasana):
- Align the front knee directly over the heel
- Lift from the inner back thigh. Back leg should be energized.
- Draw your pubic bone up and your tailbone down – keep the pelvis neutral.
- Press down into the earth with the standing foot.
- Lift the leg from the inner thigh.
- Keep your hips level with one another.
- Keep spine long and spacious.
- Pad the knee if it hurts.
- Ease the hips toward the floor while keeping the pelvis neutral
- Keep the front knee over or behind the heel.
Half-splits (ardha hanumanasana):
- Align the hips over the back knee
- Energize the muscles in the front leg, drawing the toes back.
- Place the hands under the shoulders and keep the spine elongated.
Low lunge variation:
- Press the foot into the hand as you draw the foot in.
- Keep the hips lower than the heart.
- Maintain a long spine
- Press down into the earth with the fingertips so that all of your weight is not falling to the ground.
- Keep the back toes curled under and lift from the inner thigh.
- Maintain a neutral pelvis, keeping the hips internally rotated.
- Breathe deeply. Don’t force. There is no shortcut to monkey pose. Practice these postures consistently and you will gradually get there!