Monkey pose (Hanumanasana in Sanskrit) is a challenging intermediate to advanced pose and should not be attempted by beginners. This asana gets its name from a Hindu god, Hanuman, who is said to have leaped across the sea.
Monkey pose is also known as the split. This pose offers several benefits. Monkey pose helps stretch the hamstrings and groin muscles, strengthens and tones the leg muscles and encourages circulation.
Begin in a kneeling position to the side of your mat. This pose is usually done on the floor to avoid slipping on the mat and getting hurt. Move the right leg forward and extend the leg so it is straight our in front of you and resting on the outer heel.
Lean the torso forward and take the left leg and begin to straighten it out in back. Begin to straighten the left knee and move the right thigh down to the floor. Move the front leg so the right knee is facing straight up to the ceiling and press the left leg back, making sure it is straight and the kneecap is on the floor.
In the full pose, you will be in a full split. If you are unable to straighten the back leg, blocks should be used for support. You can also use your hands for support, rather than raising them above your head.
Move the hands into prayer position and raise them over your head. If you are comfortable in this pose, you can begin to arch the back slightly. Hold for a few breathes and move slowly out of the pose. Return to the kneeling position and repeat the sequence, bringing the left leg forward.
It is very important to take it slowly when attempting monkey pose for the first time. Be sure to move only as far as you can comfortably go. Don’t push too far into the split, or you can be injured and hamstring injuries take a lot of time to heal. Each time you practice monkey pose, your flexibility will increase and you will be able to straighten the legs further.
Because this is a challenging pose and can result in injury, it is not recommended for people with certain health conditions. People with problems involving the hips, back, hamstrings or groin should skip this asana. If you have a health condition, its best to check with a doctor or yoga therapist for most advanced poses.