- Sanskrit (Original): Ardha Hanumānāsana
- Etymology: Half (ardha); monkey chief (hanuman); pose (asana)
- Fun Fact about the pose: This pose is named after Lord Hanuman, the Hindu Monkey God. This is why it's also called Monkey Pose (not because of the monkey-like flexibility required for the pose).
- Asana Type: Forward Fold, Seated
- Main length muscle groups: Spine: erector spinae, rhomboids, lower trapezius; latissimus dorsi; front leg: hamstrings, gluteus maximus, piriformis
- Main strength muscle groups: Front leg: articularis genu, vastii, adductors; back leg: quadriceps, gluteus muscles
- Vinyasa Breath: Exhale
How to Cue the Pose: Step By Step
- 1 Start in the low-lunging position Anjaneyasana. Tuck the toes of the back foot.
- 2 Place your hands or finger tips on the ground or on a block next to your pelvis. Ideally, the arms are perpendicular to the floor.
- 3 On an exhale, start to shift your pelvis backwards in direction of your back heel until the front leg is straight. You can also keep a slight bend in the front leg to avoid locking the knee and overstretching the hamstrings.
- 4 If necessary, walk the hands further back.
- 5 Flex the front foot and pull the toes towards you.
- 6 Square your hips by externally rotating the front leg and pushing the hip of the same side backwards.
- 7 Push the sit bones back and tilt the pelvis forward (i.e. create a little ducktail).
- 8 Inhale to lift your sternum up and create length in the spine.
- 9 Exhale and fold forward over your front leg.
- 10 To deepen the pose, bring the front leg back into internal rotation and push the hip bone further back.
- 11 Externally rotate the thigh again and slide the heel further forward.
- 12 Repeat steps 10 and 11 until you feel you have reached your maximum stretch.
- 13 To get out of Ardha Hanumanasana, press the hands into the mat and slowly drag the front heel back towards you until you feel you can bend the front leg again.
Working The Details: Alignment In The Pose
- Focus on your sit bone: Ardha Hanumanasana mainly is a hamstring stretch for the front leg. Since the hamstrings originate at the sit bone, this should be your focus area in the pose. To get the full benefit of the pose, consciously push the sit bone of the front-leg side back. To do so, externally rotate the front-leg thigh (don’t be afraid to use your hands here!) and push the hip bone back.
- Tilt the pelvis forward: Every forward fold also is a slight backbend. This means that you want to tilt your pelvis forward to create a little ducktail. Usually, your hamstrings will prevent you from tilting the pelvis. Therefore, keep a slight bend in the knee of the front leg as this will give you more range of motion in the pelvis and allow you to deepen your forward fold.
- Keep your shoulders stable: With so much focus on the hips and hamstrings, it’s easy to neglect the upper body. However, you don’t want to collapse into your shoulders or hang passively into your shoulder girdle. Therefore, actively push the hands or fingers into the mat to lift your sternum. Draw the shoulder blades back rather than letting them fall forward. If you can’t comfortably reach the floor, place blocks underneath your hands.
Adapting The Pose Through Modifications
- Rest your hands on blocks rather than on the ground. This way, it will be easier to keep your upper body straight and the shoulders open. As a result, you will have more freedom to tilt the pelvis forward.
- Keep the front knee bent to prevent the hamstrings from overstretching. Remember that a pose is never about how it looks but how it feels. If you feel a nice and juicy hamstring stretch even though the knee is bent, then this is the perfect alignment for your body (for now).
- If the hamstring stretch is enough for you, go a little easier on the forward fold. You can totally leave your torso upright instead of leaning forwards. This way, you can focus more on your pelvis and hamstrings.
- For a very deep forward fold, rest your belly on your thigh. Walk the hands further forward until the arms are fully extended. This will also deepen your hamstring stretch.
- If you’re up for a challenging leg and core workout, lift the front heel of the floor and keep it lifted for a few breaths. Yes, please remember to breathe!
- Another similarly challenging variation is to lift the arms up and straighten them back behind you like an airplane.
- The next level of this pose would be its full expression Hanumanasana.
Benefits of Ardha Hanumanasana
- This pose is a great hamstring stretch. Since there are so many ways to adapt the pose to your body, it is easily accessible also for practitioners whose hamstrings are more on the tight end of the spectrum.
- It also improves the mobility of your hips and pelvis.
- If you opt for the forward fold, it lengthens the spine and massages your abdominal area, which can help improve digestion.
- Your core muscles are actively working in Ardha Hanumanasana to keep the torso lifted. This strengthens the abdominal muscles.
- It is one of the rare poses where practitioners can really feel the attachment of their hamstrings on the sit bone. Therefore, it is a great practice to improve body awareness.
- Working with your breath to deepen your pose trains your focus and concentration and will also calm the mind.
Preparatory PoseSee all Poses
Preparatory poses are poses that have a similar shape to the pose you want to prepare for but maybe in a different alignment towards gravity and/or poses that target specific body areas to warm up, stretch or strengthen in order to lead to the final pose. Include preparatory poses when you build yoga sequences.
Counter PoseSee all Poses
Counter poses serve to balance the body back into neutral after a pose or a set of same poses. E.g. symmetrical poses balancing asymmetrical poses, forward folds or twists balancing backbends, balancing challenging poses with restorative poses. Use counter poses to build sequences that feel amazing – you can use our free Sequence Builder tool to get started.
Sethu Bandha Sarvangasana
Happy Baby Pose
For a long time, I avoided this pose because it just felt like a loser version of full splits. This changed dramatically when I was able to feel the attachment of my hamstrings on my sit bone. This gave me an incredible feeling of body awareness and self-efficacy. Ever since then I love working with this connection!
Content Manager at TINT | Passionate Yoga Teacher
FAQ: Common questions about this pose
In Hindu tales, Hanuman was a Half-God and the chief of an army of monkeys who served the God Rama. The full pose Hanumansana represents Hanuman’s so-called ‘leap of faith’ when he once jumped in a single stride across the ocean from Southern India to Sri Lanka.
You’re either really flexible or you’re neglecting the squaring of the hips. Most practitioners will have to make a conscious effort to draw the hip of the front-leg side back because tight hamstrings will actually draw the hip forward. Also, tilting the pelvis forward will widen the sit bones. As this is the origin of your hamstrings, this step is crucial to target your hamstrings properly. You will also feel more stretch in the hamstrings if you focus on flexing the front foot, i.e. pulling the toes towards you.
The first thing you can do is have patience. Tight hamstrings are not uncommon. Your hamstrings are actually a combination of three muscles. So when you think of lengthening them, remember that you really need to lengthen three muscles. And this takes time. However, there’s nothing wrong with performing the pose with a bent knee. This way, you may even be better able to feel the hamstrings’ origin on the sit bones. Focus on that point and on widening your sit bones. This will still give you a juicy stretch that is much safer than overstraining your hamstrings.
The culprit here are – guess what? – your hamstrings. If they are quite short and tight, they pull the pelvis back so that your back is rounded and doesn’t have any space to move in any direction. Remember that you need to create a slight backbend if you want to do a forward fold. This means that you need to tilt your pelvis forward. The remedy here is to keep the front knee bent (yes, even more than you may want to allow yourself) as this will release the hamstrings and give you more range of motion in your pelvis. The second option is to put your hands on a block and bend your elbows a tiny bit. This, in turn, increases the range of motion in your shoulders and allows you to pull them back. The more open your shoulders are, the more open your pelvis will be (and vice versa). Then, we go back to the first step: Tilting the pelvis forward allows you to enter the forward fold.