Saturday, September 20, 2008


Unless you're an ice hockey goalie or captain of a cheerleading squad, the ability to perform a split will not enhance your life in any identifiable way. It won't make you better at your job, more compassionate to humanity, or more attractive to your peers. On the journey toward enlightenment, any new found flexibility in your groin is relatively low on the packing list.

Nevertheless, a split or hanumanasana, in Sanskrit, is a highly effective yoga posture that you might consider incorporating into your practice more often. Following my 33-hour adventure relay insanity fest of last weekend, I've been easing more of this movement into my daily practices. It's certainly not an easy posture, but when approached mindfully and modified as needed, it provides thighs, hamstrings, and hips with a targeted dose of length and expansion. Be sure to square your hip bones forward; don't collapse onto your tuckus, and don't be shy about using blocks under your front hamstring or beneath either palm to support you.

I like this pose, not only for its ability to address my tight hammies but also for the metaphor it represents. Hanuman (see image, above), in the pantheon of Hindu gods often associated with the practice of yoga, which originated in India (also birthplace to Hinduism) is the great monkey god, who famously leaped from the southern tip of India to Sri Lanka in the epic spiritual text, the Ramayana. Often, when I struggle in this pose, I call to mind super-hero-like powers that would allow me to leap over obstacles in my life with ease. I visualize grace, faith, and strength- all the qualities that one needs to take great leaps in life, and I begin to appreciate the pose for this quality. We've all been there before- standing at the top of the bunny slope peering down, considering a major life change, or putting our heart on the line for something important- and it's beautiful when what we do on our yoga mat helps us weather those experiences with more confidence and less fear.

Ultimately, asanas are simply vehicles for a greater purpose; they help us practice focus, patience, and peace in simulated moments of challenge. Our lives and yoga practices are best served by finding the poses and styles of yoga that resonate most with each one of us as individuals- understanding that our needs change constantly. Likewise, we are changing constantly. One day, one challenge, one decision, and one leap at a time . . .

Have your own opinion to share about this pose? Questions? Tips? Post a comment! All the cool kids are doing it . . .

1 comment:

juan antonio fernandez said...

"On the journey toward enlightenment, any new found flexibility in your groin is relatively low on the packing list."

Absolute brilliance!

This one is going on the fridge.