- Sanskrit (Original): Hanumānāsana
- Etymology: Monkey chief (hanuman); pose (asana)
- Fun Fact about the pose: This pose is named after the Hindu Monkey God Hanuman, who once jumped in one stride the distance between Southern India and Sri Lanka.
- Asana Type: Forward Fold, Seated
- Main length muscle groups: Spine: erector spinae, rhomboids, lower trapezius; latissimus dorsi; front leg: hamstrings, gluteus maximus, piriformis; back leg: psoas major, rectus femoris, tensor faciae latae
- Main strength muscle groups: Front leg: articularis genu, vastii, adductors; back leg: gluteus muscles
- Vinyasa Breath: Inhale and exhale possible
How to Cue the Pose: Step By Step
- 1 Start in the low-lunging position Anjaneyasana with the back foot pointed.
- 2 Place your hands or fingertips on the ground or on a block next to your pelvis. Ideally, the arms are perpendicular to the floor.
- 3 Flex the front foot and pull the toes towards you.
- 4 Square your hips by externally rotating the front leg and pushing the hip of the same side backward.
- 5 Internally rotate the front leg by moving the big toe in. Push the hip further back.
- 6 Start sliding your front heel forward until your front leg is straight.
- 7 Keep your hips squared and slide the front heel further forward so that the back leg starts to straighten as well.
- 8 Allow your pelvis to move forward and down until the back of your front thigh and the front of the back thigh touch the floor (if available to you).
- 9 Focus in keeping your hips squared and the legs in neutral alignment.
- 10 To get out of 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. Then also bend the back leg and return to the starting position.
Working The Details: Alignment In The Pose
- Focus on your sit bone: 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 do so, internally the front leg by turning the big toe inwards. Then, consciously push the sit bone of the front-leg side back (don’t be afraid to use your hands here!). Bring the front leg back into its neutral position and slide the heel further forward. You can repeat these steps as often as you need to in order to reach your maximum in this pose.
- Keep the legs neutral: A common observation in Hanumanasana is that the back leg is externally rotated in order to get all the way down. This twisting puts a lot of pressure on the lumbar spine and the sacroiliac (SI) joint as well as the back knee. This is why both legs should actually be in a neutral position. However, active internal rotation of the legs is required in order to maintain this neutral position.
- Actively contract your muscles: Usually, gravity will pull the body into its final position in Hanumanasana so that it is not necessary to actively contract any muscles. However, this puts vulnerable areas such as the attachments of the hamstrings in a very compromising position. If you don’t actively contract them, you might risk overmobilizing them through the pull of gravity. So, don’t just release passively into the pose but keep the legs active.
- Close the pelvis: Many practitioners also tend to open the pelvis so that the hips are not squared anymore. This makes it easier to reach the floor but causes both legs to externally rotate (see above). Instead, focus on keeping both hip bones facing forward light headlights of a car.
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.
- Keep a slight bent in the knees 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).
- You can also opt for its little sister pose Ardha Hanumanasana. In this variation, the back knee stays on the ground and only the front leg lengthens. This way, you can entirely focus on the front leg and work on its flexibility before attempting the full pose.
- Put a block or a bolster underneath your groin to resist the tendency to fall to one side and open the pelvis.
- Once you are able to straighten both legs and lower yourself all the way to the floor, lift your arms overhead and reach your sternum up for a slight backbend.
- Take Hanumanasana even one step further by bending the back leg and moving its heel as close to the buttocks as possible. Bend your lifted arms and take hold of the back foot.
- You can also move into the other direction and practice Monkey Pose with a forward fold, i.e. you fold over your front leg.
Benefits of Hanumanasana
- Monkey Pose is a great stretch for the hamstrings, groins and hip flexors and also stretches the quadriceps of the back leg. This makes the pose a perfect exercise for runners and cyclists.
- 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 Hanumanasana to keep the torso lifted. This strengthens the abdominal muscles.
- Working with your breath to deepen your pose trains your focus and concentration and will also calm the mind.
Pose VariationsSee all Poses
Pose variations can be anything that makes the original pose easier or more simple but also anything making it more challenging or adding complexity.
Parivrtta Ardha Hanumanasana
Revolved Half Monkey Pose
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
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.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
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
You will always have two types of students in your class: some that can immediately come into the full pose with ease and some who seem far away from it. This is where you can shine as a teacher: Guide both groups safely into their individual full expression of the pose.
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. 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 pull 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 and quads are not uncommon. Your hamstrings are actually a combination of three muscles and your qaudriceps is a group of four muscles. So when you think of lengthening these areas of your body, remember that you actually need to lengthen three or four muscles respectively. And this takes time. However, there's nothing wrong with performing the pose with bent knees and/or a bolster or block underneath your groin. This way, you may even be better able to keep the hips squared and avoid overstretching your muscles.