After many requests, Im sharing with you 5 postures that can help you explore Hanumanasana, also known as the Splits! It's very important to acknowledge and accept where we are within our yoga journey, it's not about boosting the ego but I do agree it's always fun to explore those advanced poses with curiosity and a playful heart!!
I WILL say use props like blocks, bolsters and pillows, don't think that by using them you're not good enough, by using them you build that connection, mindfulness and patience which is what Yoga is all about. I wouldn't recommend giving yourself a deadline to achieve splits (or any other posture for that matter), you will notice that if you have a well rounded practice you don't necessarily have to practice specific poses. Splits is a journey through trust and humility, take your time, settle in and enjoy the journey!
I cannot stress enough when moving towards advanced or 'peak' postures that you are thoroughly warmed through, and I don't mean running on the spot for 30 seconds! Move through a practice that increases your heart rate, mobilise every joint, explore balancing postures and slow transitions, every posture we work through within our practice is a balance of strength and flexibility. When you are moving through your practice focus on postures that engage the legs, that test your balance and warm the whole pelvis. Think of all ranges of movements not just forward and back, side to side, circling and spiralling movements can feel delicious!!
Before we move into Hanumanasana it's really important we have a little knowledge of our personal alignment and anatomy. We will have our individual strengths and weaknesses and we need to be honest when moving our body into postures that are a little more challenging.
Here is a little breakdown of the muscles that stretch & contract when moving into the splits.
When we think of the splits we think about the length of the legs, it's true we need A LOT of flexibility within the legs but this range of movement comes from deep from the hips, we need to honour our strengths and weaknesses here in order to make progress.
+ When the leg is extended in front the hamstrings, calf and glutes stretch. The hip flexors and quadriceps engage.
+ When the leg is extended behind the hip flexors and quadriceps stretch. the glutes and lower back engage.
The inner and outer thighs play a role with stabilising the rotation of the full leg:
+ If you have dominant external rotation the inner thighs may be weak/flexible and the outer thighs strong/tight.
+ If you have dominant internal rotation the inner thighs may be strong/tight and the outer thighs may be weak/flexible.
Can you now see how complex just moving one part of the body can be?!
These next few postures I want you to explore at your own pace, honour and respect your body and all the sensations it creates, remember we can all make use of props to make a posture more accessible. If you need to modify or adapt to your personal needs please do and remember to not get fixated on pushing yourself there, by pushing you will create more tension and stress within the body which will actually make it tighter! Surrender into the practice of patience and presence, yoga is a work in, not a work out!
Seated Single Leg Forward Fold - Janu Sirsasana
Starting in a comfortable seating position with both legs extended in front of you.
Gently bend the right knee up towards the chest (close the knee joint) and allow the right knee to fall out to the right hands side. Remember we always have the option in supporting under the knee and thigh, this will allow the hip to open if it feels reassurance from something underneath it.
Take an inhale and lengthen through the waist, exhale and draw the belly in.
Flex the left foot and rotate the upper body to face the length of the left leg. Heart towards the left knee.
Inhale extend through the waist and as you exhale hinge from the hips continuing to reach the heart forwards.
Allow the hands to settle to the floor, onto the legs or by the sides. The main focus here is lengthening through the back body rather than pulling yourself lower.
Soften into the pose elongating the neck, relaxing the face and noticing the breath.
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