The Monkey Pose, also known as Hanumanasana, is a challenging and powerful advanced yoga pose that demands flexibility, balance, and strength.
This pose is a deep, front split commonly practiced in Hatha and Ashtanga yoga. It begins from a Downward-Facing Dog pose; one leg extends forward while the other stretches back, eventually bringing the pelvis to the ground.
It’s crucial to warm up properly before attempting this pose, as it requires a high degree of flexibility in the hamstrings and hip flexors.
|Sanskrit Name and Pronunciation:
How to Do the Monkey Pose
- Begin in the Downward-Facing Dog pose with your hands shoulder-width apart and feet hip-width apart.
- Step your right foot forward between your hands, reaching a high lunge position. Make sure your right knee is directly above your right ankle.
- Shift your weight onto your right foot and gently push your left knee backward. Keep your hands on either side of your right foot for stability.
- Begin to lower your hips toward the ground, aiming to keep them square and aligned. Do not force this movement; listen to your body.
- Straighten your right leg while keeping your hands on the ground for support. The extent to which you can straighten your leg will depend on your flexibility.
- Make sure your hips are as square as possible. This will help you maintain balance and alignment.
- Hold the pose for a few breaths. Your hands can either remain on the ground for support or, if you’re comfortable, be lifted above your head.
- To come out of the pose, plant your hands on the mat, tuck your left toes under, and lift your left knee off the ground. Gradually walk your hands back, assisting your right leg to bend and return to kneeling.
- Repeat the process with your left foot forward after taking a few breaths.
|Deltoids, Rotator Cuffs, Trapezius, Rhomboids, Latissimus Dorsi, Pectoralis Major, Serratus Anterior
|Rectus Abdominis, Obliques
|Erector Spinae, Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids
|Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus
|Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Calves, Adductors
While there are many research-backed mental and physical benefits of yoga, there are few — if any — official studies on the monkey pose. However, it’s generally believed that practicing the monkey pose provides several health benefits.
The Monkey pose significant flexibility in the hamstrings, hips, and groin. Practicing this pose helps increase flexibility in these areas over time.
The Monkey pose requires strength in the quadriceps and core to maintain the pose. Practicing this pose can help build strength in these muscles, as well as in the lower back.
The Monkey pose involves balancing on the hands and feet, which can help improve balance and coordination.
Opens the Hips and Groin
The deep split aspect of this pose helps to open the hips and groin, which can help improve posture and alleviate lower back pain.
The Monkey pose requires focus, balance, and strength, which can help calm the mind and promote relaxation.
It also encourages a sense of surrender and acceptance, as it is a challenging pose that requires patience and time to master.
Drawbacks and Risks
Practicing the Monkey Pose can be quite challenging and comes with risks and drawbacks if not performed correctly.
Hips: The Monkey Pose requires a deep split, which can strain the hip joints.
If not performed with proper alignment and flexibility, there is a risk of injury to the hip flexors and the surrounding muscles.
Hamstrings: This pose involves a deep stretch of the hamstrings.
If the muscles are not properly warmed up or the practitioner pushes too hard, there is a risk of straining or tearing the hamstring muscles.
Knees: The Monkey Pose involves bending the knee of the back leg and extending the front leg.
If the knee is not aligned properly, there is a risk of strain or injury to the knee joint.
Lower Back: If the core is not engaged during this pose, it can lead to over-arching the lower back, which can cause strain or injury.
Wrists: In some variations of the Monkey Pose, the hands are placed on the floor for support.
If not done correctly, this can put undue pressure on the wrists, leading to potential injury.
If you experience discomfort or pain while practicing this pose, stop immediately, modify it, or come out of it.
Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when practicing the Monkey Pose.
Not Warming Up
It’s crucial to warm up before attempting the Monkey Pose to prevent injury. This can include yoga poses like forward bends, hip openers, and hamstring stretches.
Forcing the Split
This pose requires a high degree of flexibility.
Forcing the body into the split without proper preparation can lead to muscle strains or tears. It’s important to listen to your body and only go as far as comfortable.
Misaligning the Hips
Keeping the hips square to the front of the mat is important. Allowing the hips to open to the side can lead to improper alignment and potential injury.
Neglecting Your Back Leg
Beginners often focus too much on the front leg and neglect the back leg. Both legs should be equally engaged and active in the pose.
Not Using Props to Assist
Props like blocks or straps can be helpful if you’re a beginner or don’t have as much flexibility. These can support, help you find proper alignment, and gradually increase your flexibility.
Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. If you feel pain during the practice, it’s important to back off and modify the pose as necessary.
Modifications and Variations
Here are some modifications to try:
- Use Props: If you’re having trouble reaching your foot or ankle in the Monkey Pose, you can use props such as blocks or blankets to support your body and help you find proper alignment.
Place the blocks or blankets under your hand or foot to help lift your body off the ground. This can make the pose more accessible and comfortable.
- Practice on Your Knees: If you find holding the Monkey Pose on one foot challenging, try practicing on your knees. Place your hands on the ground and lift one leg, reaching for your ankle or foot. This modification can help you build strength and stability in the pose.
- Use a Wall: If you’re having trouble finding balance in the Monkey Pose, try practicing with a wall for support.
Place your hands on the wall and lift one leg off the ground, reaching for your ankle or foot. This modification can help you find stability and build confidence in the pose.