The Big Leap or Hanumanasana

The Big Leap or Hanumanasana

The big leap or split

Hanumanasana translates from Sanskrit as the monkey pose. Hanuman a divine entity in Hinduism is said to resemble a monkey and the pose commemorates the giant leap made by him to reach islands from the mainland of India.

This pose is quite an intense stretch and there are many variations and adaptations which have the same effect. When teaching the split I like to take it easy and I tell students to back up, when they are too ambitious. The risk of injury and overstretching a muscle or tendon is too big.

In general the muscles around the pelvis including the leg muscles tend to shorten. Sitting a lot on chairs and practicing sports like cycling shorten the hamstring, quadricep, psoas and glut muscles.

When we practice hanumanasana and its variations we should be in control of your legs and the pelvis by holding the pose with muscle strength.

In low lunge the knee of the back leg is on the ground. Move pelvis forward. This stretches the quadriceps and psoas muscles of the back leg.
In high lunge you push the back upper thigh strongly up and then the heel back and down. Make sure the hip of the back leg is not dropping.
Raise the chest in low lunge and lift the pit of the abdomen. Rotate the thighs inwardly.
To support the tendon of front leg's hamstring place a block under the sitting bone. Toes of back foot are still tucked. Make sure you move the pelvis of your back leg forward and keep thighs rotating in.
Once you touch the ground, you can straighten out the toes of your back foot. Make sure that the hips are still square.

Hamstrings

The hamstring muscles are a group of 3 muscles. These 3 muscles work together to bend the knee. They arise from the sitting bones and course down the thigh passing the knee. One muscle attaches at the outside of the knee and the other 2  muscles attach at the inside of the knee, the shinbone. We want to be careful when stretching the hamstrings of the front leg in hanumanasana. Repetitive strain can cause injuries to the muscles and tendon, where it attaches: the sitting bone and the knee.

 

 

Psoas musles

The psoas muscle

The psoas muscle lies deep in the stomach. It attaches at the lumbar spine and works its way down to the thigh bone (femur). When the psoas muscle tightens, pressure occurs and you feel the pain in the lower back. The prevalence of low back pain is extremely common because modern society requires humans to sit for long periods of time. Also here: we don’t want to overstretch and create a weak psoas muscle because the psoas is vital in providing good posture.

 

 

Safe hamstring stretch

On your back. Hold the foot of one leg (you can use a belt) and draw the knee towards the armpit. Keep the shin perpendicular to the floor. - The other leg you can gradually extend down towards the floor which stretches the psoas.

Safe to the tendons

Keep holding your foot in the same position and now press the upper thigh away from you. Practicing like this you stretch the middle of the muscle and not the tendon.

Hanumanasana variation

From uttanasana you raise one leg. The bolster and wall give good support. The standing leg's hamstring muscles are deeply stretched. By raising the other leg you access and stretch the psoas muscle.

Another hanumanasana variation

From downward facing dog you raise one leg. The psoas muscle on the side of the raised leg is deeply stretched.