Try the sequence!
Hanumānāsana: a pose dedicated to the Hindu monkey god Hanumān, commemorating his giant leap across the sea from India to Sri Lanka to save Queen Sita during King Rama’s war in the Mahabharata, a great Indian epic.
From Tadasana, begin to hinge forward at the hips and extend the arms back. The heart pulls forward, the tailbone rolls upward, and the heels ground down. The knees can retain a gentle bend to alleviate stress on the hamstrings.
From Diver’s Pose, inhale the arms forward and extend the left leg straight back. Maintain the action of reaching the heart forward and grounding down into the right heel. Both legs are actively lengthening. Be mindful of keeping the hips parallel so that the left hip doesn’t begin hiking up toward the ceiling.
Carefully step back from Warrior III, grounding the left heel down and creating length down the back line of the left leg. Arms reach up toward the ceiling as you bend into the right knee. Gently lift the front hip points toward the low ribs (core engagement) to encourage space in the front of the left hip.
Feet can remain where they landed for Warrior I. Straighten the front leg and fold in any amount. Keep the left heel pressing down into the mat and explore rolling the right hip back until you feel a stretch down the outer line of the leg. Hands can land on blocks for more support.
Re-bend the right knee from Pyramid Pose and lower the left knee down to the mat. Inhale to lengthen the heart forward and gently press the top of the left foot down into the mat to create additional space in the front of the left hip. Blocks can be used under the hands for added support.
From low lunge, pull the hips back and straighten the right leg. Flex into the right foot (pull the toes in toward the shin) and maintain length through the heart. Small shifts in the rotation of the pelvis forward and backward will create additional length down the back line of the right leg or alleviate stress on the hamstring.
This is a good transition point to practice your vinyasa (plank, chaturanga, cobra, and back to downdog). Or you can skip the vinyasa sequence and step directly back to downdog from your half splits.
Knee to Tricep Transition
From Downdog, bring your right knee to your left tricep, lifting through the back of the heart and engaging strongly through the abdominals. Try to make contact with the back of the left arm! [for visual cues, pictured here is the opposite side]
Fallen Warrior Variation
With the right knee still by the left tricep, kick the leg straight out to your left side and land the outer edge of the foot on the floor. Lower the hips down onto the outer right hip, but keep the heart lifted. It will feel awkward, but will access the outer line of the right leg. [for visual cues, pictured here is the opposite side]
From the Fallen Warrior Variation, press down into the outer edge of the right foot to lift the hips away from the floor, engaging the outer hip muscles. Roll the left heel down to the mat and press down into the sole of that foot. The left arm will open up toward the ceiling. Think side plank with some spice! [for visual cues, pictured here is the opposite side]
Re-activate the deep core muscles and step the right foot to the top of the mat, finding a lunge position, but keep the back knee lifted and the back leg strong, pressing back through the heel and up with the back of the thigh. Lengthen the heart forward.
From the lunge, shift your weight forward and float the left leg toward the ceiling any amount, maintaining strong engagement of the left leg muscles to reach the foot skyward. Fold in toward the standing right leg any amount, using blocks under the hands for added support.
Full Splits (Hanumānāsana!)
Step back from the standing splits and bring the blocks with you. From the half splits, begin to slide the right foot forward while keeping the hips aligned to the top of your mat. Flexing into the right foot to activate the muscles on the top line of the right leg will help to stabilize and open up the hamstring and calf muscles. Blocks can be used under the hands, or prop yourself up with blocks under the thighs for even more support. Lift up through the heart and gently lift the front hip points toward the low ribs to create more space in the front of the left hip.
Repeat on the other side
You can move through this sequence several times before attempting the full splits. Make sure to warm up both sides of the body, and take time to cool down again afterward. Give yourself time and space to feel the effects of Hanumanasana, the giant leap of faith.