Full splits are quite interesting. But those could be quite tormenting for people with tight hamstrings. For such people, Ardha Hanumanasana offers a significant advantage. It stretches the hamstrings and opens the hips, preparing the body for advanced poses. Read through to learn more about the pose, its benefits, and all other aspects you need to master the posture.
Benefits of Ardha Hanumanasana
The pose, referred to as Half Splits, gives the same benefits as the Hanumanasana.
The pose offer the following physical benefits:
- Stretches and improves the flexibility of ankles and hamstrings
- Tones the thighs and quads
- Eases sciatica pain
- Tones the abdominal organs
- Reduces stress
- Improves physical balance
On a phsycological/emotional level, the posture:
- Helps to calm the anxious mind
- Improves stability and focus
- Enhances concentration and productivity
On a spiritual level, a Half Split:
- Activates and stabilizes the Root and Sacral chakras
- Promotes self-acceptance
- Helps to stay grounded
- Inculcates a sense of power
Ardha Hanumanasana Step-By-Step
1) Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana [Downward Facing Dog Pose]. Plant the palms firmly into the mat, pushing the hips up to the ceiling. Keeping a micro-bend in the knees, lift the heel to activate the hamstrings. Take a few breaths here to open up the entire body.
2) Take a deep inhalation. While breathing out, place one of the feet forward, between the palms. Lower the back knee on the mat. Release the top of the back foot.
3) Square the hips and stack them over the back knee. Inhale and lengthen the spine. On an exhale, slowly sit back on the back leg. Simultaneously, straighten the right leg as much as possible, flexing the toes towards the body.
4) Now bring the attention to the front. It is very common to lock the front knee in this state that ups the risk of knee injuries. To avoid any injury, keep a micro-bend on the front knee and engage the inner quads of the front knee.
[For those who are new to yoga, place a finger beneath the inner quads, right above the inner knee. If the muscle in the area feels firm, then the engagement is fine. Or else try adjusting the bent in the knee until the area feels slightly firm. Gently bent the front knee more and then straighten it again to feel this.]
5) Maintaining this activation, tuck the back toes. Correspondingly, activate the deep abdominal muscles, tucking the tailbone close to the navel.
6) Roll the inner thigh of the back leg upward and adjust the alignment of the hips. Play with the fingertips, pushing the body gently backward so that the front leg is completely straight. Breathe in and out through the nose throughout the practice.
7) On an exhale, fold forward, maintaining the length in the spine. Allow the torso and forehead to rest on the straightened front leg, if possible.
8) Hold the posture for several breaths.
9) To come out of the pose, inhale and lift the body up from the front leg.
10) Gently bend the front knee. Exhale here and adjust the palms to the front so that the front foot is between the palms. Lift the back knee off the floor.
11) On the next inhalation, press the palms and send the front foot back to come back into Downward Facing Dog Pose.
12) Pause for a few breaths in Downward Facing Dog Pose. Observe any differences between the two legs.
13) When the body is ready, repeat on the other side.
- Avoid rounding the spine and shoulders in an attempt to rest the torso close to the front foot. Instead, aim to lengthen the spine and move the chest forward and close to the toes.
- Do not try to straighten the front leg completely if the hamstring and calves are extremely tight. Maintain a ‘tiny’ bend in the front knee to avoid hyper-extension of the hamstrings and keep the knee safe.
Prepare the hamstrings, hips, and quadriceps for the deep stretch by practicing these postures before the Half Split.
- Uttanasana – Standing Forward Fold
- Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog Pose
- Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana – Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose
- Anjaneyasana – Low Lunge
- Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – One-Legged King Pigeon Pose [The upright version]
- Janu Sirsasana – Head to Knee Pose
- Supta Padangusthasana – Reclining Big Toe Pose
- Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
- Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Fold
- Upavistha Konasana – Seated Wide Angle Pose
- Baddha Konasana – Bound Angle Pose
While the posture is beneficial for the hamstrings and hips, avoid the Asana if there was/is a
- Knee injury
- Groin injury
- Hamstring injury
- Lower back pain
- Stiff ankles
- Plantar fasciitis
- Heel spur
- Use blocks on either side of the front foot to support the palms and maintain a straight spine.
- One can place a folded blanket beneath the back knee for added cushioning, especially if there is a knee issue.
- Place a block beneath the hamstring of the front leg for extra support. This support will prevent any hamstring injury also.
- Place a folded blanket or bolster beneath the front knee to prevent hyperextension.
- One can place a folded blanket or cushion under the pelvis if it’s hard to place the hips firmly on the floor.
Ardha Hanumanasana Variations
Instead of leaning forward on the front leg, beginners could aim to keep the torso upright. Meanwhile, try to straighten the front leg completely.
To deepen the stretch in the front leg, leaning on the hind leg and drag the finger close to the hips. Lean back without compromising the length of the spine to stretch the entire torso.
For an extra stretch, lift the arms over the head and join the palms without compromising the front leg alignment.
Take it slowly and be careful! Warm up the hips and legs thoroughly before practicing Ardha Hanumanasana. Remember, forcing to get the posture right could lead to an injury. Take it easy and gradually master the pose.