Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Monkey Pose): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Monkey Pose) - Sharp Muscle
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Updated: February 19, 2023

Ardha Hanumanasana, also known as Half Monkey Pose or Half Splits Pose, is a deep stretching pose for the hamstrings and a warm-up pose for the Full Splits Pose.

The Half Splits Pose is more approachable than Purna Hanumanasana (Full Monkey Pose) and strengthens the muscles needed to safely practice the front split with the right muscles engaged.

Information

Known as:Ardha Hanumanasana, Half Monkey Pose, Half Splits Pose, Reverse Lunge Pose, Runner’s lunge
Sanskrit name:अर्द्ध हनुमानासन
IAST:Ardha Hanumānāsana
Pronunciation:are-dah hah-new-mahn-AHS-ah-nah
Type:Forward Bend, Hip Opener, Balancing
Level:Intermediate
Focus:Calves, Glutes, Hip Flexors, Hamstrings, Knees, Spine
Total time:30 to 60 seconds
Drishti:Tip of the toes (Padayoragre)
Chakra:Swadisthana Chakra, Muladhara Chakra
Indications:Abdominal muscles, digestion, hamstring
Counterposes:Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose), Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose), Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana), Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana), Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Preparatory poses:Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana), Anjaneyasana (Crescent Moon Pose), Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Pose), Paschimottanasana (Intense Dorsal Stretch), Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana), Reclined Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)
Follow-up poses:Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Triangle Pose (Trikonasana), Utthita hasta padangusthasana (Extended hand-to-big-toe pose), Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), Upavistha konasana (Wide-angle seated forward bend pose)
Contraindications:Slip disc issues, internal organs, groin, or low back Injury, hamstrings, hips, pelvic floor muscles, knees, ankle, neck or lower back issues

Meaning

Ardha Hanumanasana

The Ardha Hanumanasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of three words — Ardha + Hanuman + Asana:

  1. Ardha” = “Half”
  2. Hanuman” = “Monkey or The monkey god”
  3. Asana” = “Pose or Posture”

One of the main characters of the Ramayana is Hanuman, the famous monkey god, a devotee of Lord Rama and the son of Vayu (the wind god). He is celebrated in the Hanumanasana pose, which physically represents his famous “leap of faith”, which takes him across the ocean from India to Sri Lanka.

Ardha Hanumanasana, the initial pose for Hanumanasana, may represent the stability and strength needed to make grand, world-changing (or life-changing) gestures. Instead of just focusing on gaining flexibility, practice this asana to strike a healthy balance of flexibility and strength.

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When practicing Ardha Hanumanasana, remind yourself of the dangers of being just flexible in life; To really get where you want to go, you also need to be strong and stable.

Benefits of Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Monkey Pose)

Ardha Hanumanasana is an excellent pose for stretching and strengthening the hamstrings, calves, and hips. However, the physical and mental benefits of this yoga pose are listed below:

  1. Physical Benefits:
  2. Mental Benefits:

Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Monkey Pose) Practice Guide

To practice Ardha Hanumanasana, you start in a low lunge with your front leg extended forward and your back leg extended behind you. You then straighten your front leg and fold forward, bringing your hands to the floor or using props to support your body.

This pose can be challenging for beginners, as it requires a significant amount of flexibility in the hamstrings and hips. However, with consistent practice and proper alignment, you can gradually increase your flexibility and deepen the stretch of the pose.

Here are the step-by-step practice guide:

Instructions

  1. Begin in a lunge with the right foot forward and the back knee on the floor.
  2. Shift hips back to stack over left knee, and straighten front leg at a point where you feel a stretch, but not a stretch.
  3. Flex the right toes toward the face so that the sole of the foot lifts off the mat. Place hands directly under shoulders, either on the floor or on blocks. Keep the length in the spine on both the front and back.
  4. Keep the right knee straight overhead, and engage the quadriceps, with at least a small bend behind the knee to prevent hyperextension.
  5. Press down through fingers to maintain length in torso and engage muscles in abs.
  6. Begin moving the hands towards the feet to deepen the stretch. As you work the pose, focus on pulling the pinky toe of the right foot back toward the face and pressing the ball of the foot just below the big toe.
  7. Stay in the pose for 30 to 60 seconds before bending the front knee and returning to the lunge.
  8. Repeat the process on the other side.

Alinment tips

Pay attention to the sitting bone

Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Splits Pose) is a hamstring stretch primarily for your front leg. Since the hamstrings originate from your sit bone, it should be the focus area in the pose. To get the most out of Half Monkey Pose, consciously push the sit bone of your front leg back. To do this, externally rotate the thigh of your front leg (don’t be afraid to use the hands here!) and push your hip bone back.

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Tilt the pelvis forward

Every forward fold pose is also a slight backbend. This means you want to tilt the pelvis forward to create a slight ducktail. Typically, the hamstrings will prevent you from tilting your pelvis. Therefore, a slight bend in the knee of your front leg will give you more movement in your pelvis and will allow you to deepen the front fold.

Keep shoulders steady

With so much focus on the hamstrings and hips, it is easy to neglect the upper body. However, you don’t want to drop into the shoulders or passively hang in the shoulder girdle. Therefore, actively push the hands or fingers into the mat to lift the sternum. Instead of letting your shoulder blades fall forward, pull them back. If you can’t reach the floor comfortably, place blocks under your hands.

Modifications

Use modifications as needed to make the pose more accessible and avoid any pain or discomfort. With consistent practice, you will gradually build strength and flexibility in your legs and experience the many benefits of this yoga pose.

Here are some modifications you can use to make Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Monkey Pose) more accessible:

Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Monkey Pose) With block - Sharp Muscle
© image: Instagram/Meleeza
  1. Use blocks: If you have trouble reaching the ground with your hands, place blocks on either side of your front foot and rest your hands on the blocks. This will help you to maintain proper alignment and deepen the stretch.
    • How to:
      • Keep your hands on the blocks, not on the ground. This way, it will be easier to keep the upper body straight and the shoulders open. As a result, you will have more freedom to tilt your pelvis forward.
      • Keep the front knee bent to avoid over-stretching your hamstrings. Remember that a pose is not how it looks but how it feels. If you feel a nice and juicy hamstring stretch, even when your knee is bent, this is the perfect body alignment for now.
      • If your hamstring stretch is enough for you, go a little easier on the front side. You can leave the torso completely straight instead of leaning forward. This way, you can focus more on the pelvis and hamstrings.
  2. Bend your front knee: If your hamstrings are tight or you have knee problems, you can bend your front knee slightly to reduce the strain on your leg.
  3. Use a strap: If you have trouble reaching your foot or maintaining balance in the pose, you can use a strap around your foot to help you deepen the stretch and maintain balance.
  4. Practice against a wall: If you have trouble maintaining balance in the pose, you can practice against a wall. Place your hands on the wall and step your front foot forward into Half Monkey Pose, using the wall for support.
  5. Practice the pose on a chair: If you have difficulty getting down to the ground or have mobility issues, you can practice Ardha Hanumanasana on a chair. Sit on the edge of the chair and extend one leg forward, resting your heel on the ground. Lean forward to deepen the stretch in your hamstrings.
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Variations

Practice these variations with awareness and listen to your body. If these variations feels uncomfortable or painful, back off and return to the basic pose. With consistent practice and exploration, you will gradually deepen your practice and experience the many benefits of Ardha Hanumanasana.

Here are some variations of Half Monkey Pose to try:

  • Half Monkey Pose with a twist: In this variation, come into Half Monkey Pose and then twist your torso towards your front leg. Place your opposite elbow on the inside of your front knee and extend your opposite arm towards the sky. This will deepen the stretch in your hamstrings while also opening your chest and shoulders.
  • Dynamic Half Monkey Pose: In this variation, come into Half Monkey Pose and then shift your weight forward onto your front foot, coming into a low lunge. Then, shift your weight back into Half Monkey Pose. Repeat this movement for several rounds, moving with your breath.
  • Half Monkey Pose with a bind: In this variation, come into Half Monkey Pose and then reach your front arm under your front leg, wrapping it around your back. Take hold of your back foot with your hand and gently pull your foot towards your glutes. This will deepen the stretch in your hamstrings while also opening your shoulders and chest.
  • Half Monkey Pose with a quad stretch: In this variation, come into Half Monkey Pose and then bend your back knee, taking hold of your foot with your hand. Gently pull your foot towards your glutes, deepening the stretch in your quad while also stretching your hamstrings.

Precautions and contraindications

Precautions and contraindications are important to keep in mind when practicing Ardha Hanumanasana (Reverse Lunge Pose) in order to ensure your safety and avoid any injuries. By taking these precautions and contraindications into consideration, you can practice this yoga pose safely and effectively, reaping the many benefits this pose has to offer.

Here are some precautions and contraindications for this yoga pose:

  • Warm up properly: Before practicing Half Monkey Pose, it’s important to warm up your muscles with some gentle stretches and poses. This can help to prevent injury and prepare your body for the deeper stretches of the pose.
  • Use props: You can use props such as blocks or blankets to support your body and make the pose more accessible. This can help to prevent strain on your hamstrings and lower back.
  • Hamstring injuries: If you have a hamstring injury, it’s best to avoid Half Monkey Pose or modify the pose with props. The pose can put pressure on your hamstrings and aggravate the injury.
  • Lower back pain: If you have lower back pain or a history of lower back injuries, you should be cautious when practicing Half Monkey Pose. Use props to support your body and avoid deepening the stretch if it causes any pain or discomfort.
  • High blood pressure: If you have high blood pressure, it’s best to avoid folding forward too deeply in Half Monkey Pose. Instead, you can modify the pose by keeping your spine long and using props to support your body.
  • Listen to your body: It’s important to listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself beyond your limits. If you feel any pain or discomfort, back off and modify the pose as needed.

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