Hanumanasana (hah-new-mahn-AHS-anna) and Purna Hanumanasana (pur-nah hah-new-mahn-AHS-anna) stretch and strengthen the muscles in the thighs, hamstrings and groin. Over time this pose also helps the hips become more flexible. The abdominal organs are stimulated, improving how they function.
In Purna Hanumanasana the arms are extended by the ears (in Hanumanasana the hands are on the mat); this provides a gentle back extension and chest opener. The lungs and chest are expanded and the arms and shoulders are strengthened and stretched.
Hanumanasana resembles the “greatest leap ever taken.” The divine monkey Hanuman is the son of the wind, Vayu, and a vanara (monkey-like humanoid) woman. He personifies strength, bravery and spiritual devotion. As son of the wind, he was known for his large jumps. His most significant was during the battle of Lanka, where he jumped from the shores of the southern tip of India to the island of Sri Lanka. He stretched out his powerful legs and made sand fly and waves run backwards. The power and extension of his legs are the foundation of this pose.
Through Hanumanasana you utilize your devotion to make the leap, to explore the expanse of what is possible. Use your breath to access your heart, your inner-self and the spiritual opening that takes place.
Avoid Hanumanasana if you have groin or hamstring injuries. Those with chronic shoulder injuries should avoid Purna Hanumanasana. Do not force this pose and modify with bolsters and preparatory poses as needed.