Asana for the week

monkey pose

Monkey Pose

Take a leap of faith into Hanumanasana or Monkey Pose, named for a figure in Hindu mythology who did just that. And when faith doesn’t get you all the way there, practice will.

“It was the greatest leap ever taken. The speed of Hanuman’s jump pulled blossoms and flowers into the air after him and they fell like little stars on the waving treetops. The animals on the beach had never seen such a thing; they cheered Hanuman, then the air burned from his passage, and red clouds flamed over the sky . . .” (Ramayana, retold by William Buck).

This pose then, in which the legs are split forward and back, mimics Hanuman’s famous leap from the southern tip of India to the island of Sri Lanka.

Practice this pose on a bare floor (without a sticky mat) with folded blankets under the back knee and front heel.

Monkey Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1

Kneel on the floor. Step your right foot forward about a foot in front of your left knee, and rotate your right thigh outwardly. Do this by lifting the inner sole away from the floor and resting the foot on the outer heel.

Step 2

Exhale and lean your torso forward, pressing your fingertips to the floor. Slowly slide your left knee back, straightening the knee and at the same time descending the right thigh toward the floor. Stop straightening the back knee just before you reach the limit of your stretc

Step 3

Now begin to push the right heel away from your torso. Because we started with a strong external rotation of the front leg, gradually turn the leg inward as it straightens to bring the kneecap toward the ceiling. As the front leg straightens, resume pressing the left knee back, and carefully descend the front of the left thigh and the back of the right leg (and the base of the pelvis) to the floor. Make sure the center of the right knee points directly up toward the ceiling.

Step 4

Also check to see that the back leg extends straight out of the hip (and isn’t angled out to the side), and that the center of the back kneecap is pressing directly on the floor. Keep the front leg active by extending through the heel and lifting the ball of the foot toward the ceiling. Bring the hands into Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal) or stretch the arms straight up toward the ceiling.

Step 5

Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to a minute. To come out, press your hands to the floor, turn the front leg out slightly, and slowly return the front heel and the back knee to their starting positions. Then reverse the legs and repeat for the same length of time.

 

 

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name

Hanumanasana

Pose Level

1

Contraindications and Cautions

  • Groin or hamstring injuries

Modifications and Props

Students just beginning to learn this pose are often unable to get the legs and pelvis down on the floor, which is usually due to of tightness in the backs of the legs or front groins. While in the starting leg position then (as described in Step 1 above), place a thick bolster below the pelvis (with its long axis parallel to your inner legs). As you straighten the legs, slowly release your pelvis down onto the bolster. If the bolster isn’t thick enough to comfortably support your pelvis, add a thickly folded blanket.

Deepen the Pose

The arms are raised overhead from the “trigger” of the lower back ribs. Take the back ribs away from the top of the pelvis, and use this lift to reach the arms closer to the ceiling. Lengthen along the backs of the arms, stretching your pinkies a little closer to the ceiling than the index fingers. Then pin the fingertips against the ceiling and release or “hang” the ribs from the arms.

Yo-yo the ribs between the arms and the pelvis: relative to the pelvis, the ribs lift, boosting the arms closer to the ceiling; relative to the arms, the ribs drop toward the floor, increasing the stretch in the armpits.

Theraputic Applications

  • Sciatic

 

Beginner’s Tip

To increase the length of the torso and spine, press the back foot actively into the floor and, from this pressure, lift the shoulder blades firmly into your back.

Benefits

  • Stretches the thighs, hamstrings, groins
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs

Partnering

The partner can help you create a lift through the arms in the completed pose. Perform Hanumanasana with the arms raised. Have your partner stand straddling your pelvis. She should then press her hands against the outsides of your upper arms (just above the shoulders) and scrub up along the arms toward the hands. Press out against your partner’s resistance and release the side ribs downward, away from the arms.

Pose for the week

Asana for the week

big toe pose

 

Big Toe Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1

Stand upright with your inner feet parallel and about six inches apart. Contract your front thigh muscles to lift your kneecaps. Keeping your legs completely straight, exhale and bend forward from your hip joints, moving your torso and head as one unit.

 

Step 2

Slide the index and middle fingers of each hand between the big toes and the second toes. Then curl those fingers under and grip the big toes firmly, wrapping the thumbs around the other two fingers to secure the wrap. Press your toes down against your fingers. (If you can’t reach your toes without overly rounding your back, pass a strap under the ball of each foot and hold the straps.)

 

Step 3

With an inhalation, lift your torso as if you were going to stand up again, straightening your elbows. Lengthen your front torso, and on the next exhale, lift your sitting bones. Depending on your flexibility, your lower back will hollow to a greater or lesser degree. As you do this, release your hamstrings and hollow your lower belly (below your navel) as well, lightly lifting it toward the back of your pelvis.

 

Step 4

Lift the top of your sternum as high as you can, but take care not to lift your head so far that you compress the back of your neck. Keep your forehead relaxed.

 

Step 5

For the next few inhalations, lift your torso strongly as you continue to actively contract your front thighs; on each successive exhalation, strongly lift your sitting bones as you consciously relax your hamstrings. As you do this, deepen the hollow in your lower back.

 

Step 6

Finally exhale, bend your elbows out to the sides, pull up on your toes, lengthen the front and sides of your torso, and gently lower into the forward bend.

 

Step 7

If you have very long hamstrings, you can draw your forehead toward your shins. But if your hamstrings are short, it’s better to focus on keeping the front torso long. Hunching into a forward bend isn’t safe for your lower back and does nothing to lengthen your hamstrings

 

Step 8

Hold the final position for one minute. Then release your toes, bring your hands to your hips, and re-lengthen your front torso. With an inhale, swing your torso and head as a single unit back to upright.

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name

Padangusthasana

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pose for the week

Pose for the week

extended triangle

Extended Triangle Pose

Extended Triangle Pose is the quintessential standing pose in many styles of yoga.

(oo-TEE-tah trik-cone-AHS-anna) utthita = extended trikona = three angle or triangle

Extended Triangle Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1

Stand in Tadasana. With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down.

Watch this video on Extended Triangle Pose

Step 2

Turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the right knee cap is in line with the center of the right ankle.

See also: Expand Mind and Body: Extended Triangle Pose

Step 3

Exhale and extend your torso to the right directly over the plane of the right leg, bending from the hip joint, not the waist. Anchor this movement by strengthening the left leg and pressing the outer heel firmly to the floor. Rotate the torso to the left, keeping the two sides equally long. Let the left hip come slightly forward and lengthen the tailbone toward the back heel.

See also: Master an Essential Pose: Extended Triangle Pose

Step 4

Rest your right hand on your shin, ankle, or the floor outside your right foot, whatever is possible without distorting the sides of the torso. Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, in line with the tops of your shoulders. Keep your head in a neutral position or turn it to the left, eyes gazing softly at the left thumb.

More poses for hamstrings here

Step 5

Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up, strongly pressing the back heel into the floor and reaching the top arm toward the ceiling. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.

Pose for the week

Pose for the week

forearm plank

 

Dolphin Plank Pose
A modification of Plank Pose, Dolphin Plank Pose strengthens and tones the core, thighs, and arms.

Dolphin Plank Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions
Step 1
Start in Dolphin Pose, knees bent. Then walk your feet back until your shoulders are directly over the elbows and your torso is parallel to the floor.
Step 2
Press your inner forearms and elbows firmly against the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back and spread them away from the spine. Similarly spread your collarbones away from the sternum.
See also Upside-Down Prep: Dolphin Pose
Step 3
Press your front thighs toward the ceiling, but resist your tailbone toward the floor as you lengthen it toward the heels. Lift the base of your skull away from the back of the neck and look straight down at the floor, keeping the throat and eyes soft.
Step 4
Stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. Then, release your knees to the floor with an exhale.

Pose for the week

Asana for the week – Lizard Pose

If you place a blanket beneath you for this pose, you’ll not only get a deep stretch but also strengthen your leg muscles.
From a high lunge, place both hands on the floor to the inside of your right foot. Lower your left knee to the floor. Bring your forearms down onto a block or, if it feels appropriate, to the floor. Bring your pelvis into a reverse tilt (tailbone forward). You’ll feel the left side of your belly and the front of your left leg (the psoas and quadriceps muscles) stretching. Stay for 5 to 8 breaths, then place your hands back on the floor, straighten your back leg, and step forward into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). After a few breaths there, bend your knees and roll all the way up to Tadasana. Repeat on the other side.

Pose for the weekTips