Pose of the Week: Hanumanasana
The Pose of Week is Hanumanasana. As you can see in the photo below the asana resembles the classical front splits, often performed in ballet and gymnastics.
Image: BKS Iyengar in Hanumanasana in Light on Yoga (1966)
Hanuman was the name of a monkey chief renowned for taking great leaps of faith in the face of adversity. He appears in both major ancient Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, playing a central role in the story of Rama and Sita.
Hanumanasana, the asana named in his honour, resembles the splits, though there is an essential difference between the two. The splits are performed in gymnastics or ballet primarily for aesthetic appreciation, performed for the external view. An asana, on the other hand, is executed and experienced internally and does not seek validation through performance.
This requires an honesty in the approach. You have to assess the asana with honesty. BKS Iyengar calls this ‘re-posing’ where you “reflect on what part of the body is working, and which part of the body has not been penetrated by the mind, we bring the mind to the same extension as the body.” (The Tree of Yoga, p.50) So, in this state the dualities between mind and body are vanquished.
It also involves prana as I looked at in the blog on Pranyankasana the week before last. Prana is the life energy and the way energy circulates, vibrates, and forges new pathways. This is the way we can view Hanumanasana in comparison to the splits. There is an internal energy spreading and extending throughout the whole pose.
Referring to previous blog posts, you can see the similar aspects of many of the asanas, for example, last week the joining of the palms in Namaskar mudra, and earlier Parsvottanasana and Virabhadrasana 1. All these are related and interwoven. And what you learn in these earlier asanas, that are first taught when you attend the Beginner’s Course, is the tools and techniques to attempt and (eventually) master Hanumanasana. In time, with practice, you develop the physical and psychological understanding of what is required to achieve an advanced asana like this one (by the way, Mr Iyengar has given it a rating of 36 out of 60 level of difficulty and Paryankasana is 2!).
And Hanumanasana requires a leap of faith, a good degree of determination and spot of perseverance….
See you on the mat 🙂