by Sara Schwartz
“Inhabit the consciousness of the pose,” Sri Dharma Mittra instructs. With fun names like Eagle Pose, and Lizard pose you feel like you’re five years old again.
So what’s the deal with the splits? Hanumanasa, front to back splits, is a posture to remind you that you are not five years old anymore! This pose is possible though – you just have to inhabite the consciousness of its patron: Hanuman, the most loyal of the Gods.
Hanuman is the son of a monkey and the wind –part earthly, part divine and the king of the monkeys in Hindu mythology. Hanuman loved Rama from the moment he saw him, and pledged his loyalty to him. When Rama’s wife Sita was kidnapped by an evil demon, Hanuman came to the rescue. He took a great giant leap from India’s south-east coast to Sri Lanka to save her. Hanuman’s fierce devotion helped him to do the impossible.
The lesson of Hanuman: Skill arises from devotion.
How to practice Hanumanasana:
Before attempting the splits, do a few rounds of Dharma Yoga style Sun Salutations to warm up.
· from forward fold, step your right foot back;
· Bring your right knee to the floor and walk your hands by your hips;
· Flex your left toes towards your face, heel is on the mat;
· Make sure your right knee is underneath your right ankle, right toes tucked under;
· Begin to lean forward over your left leg. You don’t want the back of your left leg to feel like a guitar string about to break;
· Here is where the fidelity comes in. No matter what your pose looks like – hold the pose and send your breath or intention to the tight and tender places;
If you start to feel more relaxed, and the stretch goes away, begin to slide your heel forward. If your pelvis touches the floor, or you feel stable, begin to sweep your arms overhead into a prayer position and gaze up at your hands. Your hands send the message from your heart to the heavens.
· To exit the pose, push yourself up off the floor with your hands.
· If you can come into the low lunge, equestrian pose.
· Step back into plank pose, lower knees, chest, and chin to the mat.
· Come up for cobra, press back downward facing dog.
· Jump your feet to your hands, and then step back with your left foot to repeat Hanumanasa.
The amount of sensation in your legs is a reminder of how the faithful Hanuman felt in the name of the King that he honored and served.
Sara Schwartz lives in Queens, New York with her husband Yancy. She currently teaches at Yoga to the People, where she received her 200-hour certification in 2010. She recently graduated from the Dharma Yoga Center Life of a Yogi 500-Hour Teacher Training. “Offer up the fruits of your practice” is her favorite advice from Sri Dharma Mittra. She is very grateful for the guidance of Sri Dharma and all of his teachers.