Splits Pose / Monkey Pose

splits pose (monkey pose)

Hanumanasana (Splits Pose) is a challenging seated pose that requires the work of the hips and hamstrings while balancing the upper body on the pelvis. With the hips and the legs moving in opposite directions, the hip flexors and hamstrings need to be strong and flexible to attain the required balance and stability.

Hanumanasana is named after Lord Hanuman (Hindu Monkey God), hence also called the Monkey Pose. It is in relation to the heroic leap he took in search of Sita, in the epic The Ramayana. Keeping this in mind, while in the practice of Hanumanasana (Splits Pose) students should feel a sense of power and confidence, and should trust their body and strength to achieve the full split despite being a challenging one. An intelligent approach towards the Splits Pose is to practice easier hamstring stretch poses like Hanumanasana Variation At Wall (Standing Splits Pose Variation At Wall), Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Splits Pose), and the likes.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1
Start by kneeling on the floor with the thighs, knees, shins, ankles, and feet are hip distance apart. Tops of the feet lay flat on the earth.
Step 2
Lengthen the right leg out in front of you with the heel on the ground and the toes flexing towards your face.
Step 3
Lean the torso slightly forward and press the fingertips into the earth or the palms of the hands on blocks next the hips. *Modifications: Place two block on either side of your hips. Use the block on the highest or medium setting and press your hands or fingertips into the block to try to get a long, straight spine. You may also place a block or folded blanket under your right buttock for support.
Step 4
Straighten the right leg without locking out the knee. Gently start to slide the right heel forward. Rotate the right inner thigh towards the earth so that the kneecap faces the sky. Simultaneously, slide your left leg and knee in back of you. You can tuck the back toes if you want some extra stability. The left leg is straight in back of you and no splaying out or turned inwards.
Step 5
Try to get the hips even and square to the short edge of your mat.
Step 6
If this is not too strenuous bring the torso perpendicular to the ground. The hands can come to prayer at the heart, Anajli Mudra, or you can extend the arms up to the sky.
Step 7
Soften the gaze towards the horizon.
Step 8
To get out of this posture, press the hands into the floor and open up the right leg slightly. Slowly draw the right heel and back leg towards the torso. Come back to the initial kneeling position. Repeat with opposite leg in front

Pose Detail

Benefits and Contraindications

Benefits

Stretches the hamstrings, quads, groins and hip flexors

Strengthens the core muscles

Can help to prevent lower body injury

Contraindications

Hamstring, groin, low back injury

Photo poses in different angles

Pose Modification: Splits with 2 Blocks

Begin in low lunge with right foot forward and hands on blocks. Release left knee to the ground. Walk hands back with the blocks as you reach hips back toward left heel and lengthen right leg to runner’s lunge. Breathe here and slide right heel forward as much as feels comfortable. Breathe here at least 5 deep breaths. Come out of the pose slowly and repeat on the other side.

Pose Modification: Splits with 1 Block

Similar to the previous pose, begin in low lunge with right foot forward. Release left knee to the ground. Walk hands back as you reach hips back toward left heel and lengthen right leg to runner’s lunge. (Fingertips can be tented on the ground for extra space.) Breathe here and slide right heel forward as much as feels comfortable. Take a block of any height and place underneath right thigh above the knee, making sure to breathe comfortably. Breathe here at least 5 deep breaths. Come out of the pose slowly and repeat on the other side.

Tips

Be sure that you ease yourself into each of these poses, as they deeply stretch commonly tight areas of the body. Trying to force your body into these poses before you are fully ready can cause injury.

If you are feeling pain in your joints, or where the muscle attaches to the bone (i.e. knees, hips, sits bones, etc.), then back off the pose a bit or come out of it completely until the pain is alleviated.

Variations
  • Low Lunge Back Leg Raised Splits Pose Prep
  • Splits Pose Hands Blocks Front Leg Wheel
  • Monkey Pose Forward Bend Bound Hands
  • Monkey Pose Forward Bend
Top Preparatory Poses
  • Crescent Low Lunge Pose
  • Pyramid Pose
  • Half Splits Pose
Top Follow-Up Poses
  • Downward Facing Dog Pose
  • Splits Pose
  • Child Pose

Iana Varshavska
Iana Varshavska
Website administrator

In love with yoga and everything that goes along with it. Iana has been actively practicing yoga for 5 years. In addition to practice, she studies various aspects of yoga philosophy, yoga anatomy, biomechanics, and holodynamics.