Hanumanasana, or Monkey Pose, in its full expression, is the forward splits, a challenging pose that represents the pose Hanuman took as he leapt from the southern tip of India to Sri Lanka to rescue his good friend Ram’s wife, Sita, who had been kidnapped by the evil demon Ravana.
Hanuman’s story begins much before this famous tale. He was actually born Anjaneya, son of Anjana, a mortal woman, and Vaju, the god of wind, so he was half human, half god. He was a troublesome youngster, however, and one day was fatally struck down by the sun god, Surya because of his mischievousness. Vayu’s fury at Surya’s actions caused him to take in a deep breath, threatening all of humanity. To appease Vayu, the gods compromised, and Anjaneya was returned as Hanuman, but was unable to fully remember his own divinity.
Hanuman was removed from his mother and put into the care of Sugriva, the monkey king. Hanuman took the shape of a monkey to better get along with his family. One day he met King Ram, who immediately took to liking him. It was shortly thereafter that Ravana plotted to take over Ram’s kingdom and kidnap Sita. When he did, Ram could not rescue Sita because he had to defend his kingdom, so he sent his trusted friend Hanuman to save her.
It was then that Hanuman took the great leap to Sri Lanka. He was unsure how he would make the great journey, but his faith kept him going despite not knowing what he was truly capable of. “Many of us shrink before impossible tasks, or even tasks that are just a bit hard, because we are just like Hanuman. We easily forget that there is a part of us that is also divine and can accomplish the impossible,” says Alanna Kaivalya, author of Myths of the Asanas. His faith and dedication brought him to Sita, where he promised to later return with King Ram to save her and fight off Ravana’s army. And they did just that, winning back their kingdom.
The same faith and dedication can be applied in the pose Hanumanasana itself. A challenging pose, it can take much time to take the full expression of the pose. Faith and dedication are essential to finding steadiness and ease in the pose.