January: a month of resolutions, good intentions, and promises to be/do/eat/exercise better. While starting the New Year in a positive and motivated frame of mind is a sensible and nourishing idea, we are often too hard on ourselves- setting goals that are unrealistic and that inevitably end in a Rioja/Malteasers binge somewhere around the 1st week of February; When all of our focus is directed towards achieving a big ‘end result’, it can be easy to forget to pause and savor the process itself. When that happens, we become unmotivated and bored, causing us to take a tumble off the wagon, that provokes such feelings of guilt and failure, we are too disheartened to dust ourselves off and climb back on. Setting intentions for our yoga practice works in a similar way, we are often so fixated on reaching the full expression of an ‘advanced’ pose, that we forget to catch our breath (literally) and practice the important yogic quality of karuna (compassion) towards our Selves and our practice.
I have chosen this supported version of Hanumanasana for January’s pose of the month, as I believe it can serve as a powerful metaphor for setting intentions and resolutions.
Hanumanasa is a challenging posture, it requires a great deal of flexibility in the hip flexors (back leg) and hamstrings (front leg), and strength in the abdominals and lower back. It’s not a pose we ever feel a lack of sensation in- no matter how flexible we become; which serves as a gentle reminder that no matter how far we go and how much we achieve, there will always be new challenges and goalposts to conquer in our lives and in our practices. By taking baby steps and working up to the full pose in a steady and logical way, we are more likely to achieve our asana goals and avoid injury in the process. Reaching the full expression of Hanumanasana requires consistency and commitment over time, just like any other new years resolution. But remember, it is the journey there that really counts.
To work in to Hanumanasa please ensure you have warmed up with several rounds of sun salutations and hip and hamstring openers.
1. Begin in runners lunge. Use the inhale to shine the heart forward and find length in the spine, and use the exhale to draw up through mulabandha and hinge slowly over the front leg by walking the hands forward. Keep the foot of the extended leg flexed and keep the hips square. Hold for 5-10 full breaths.
2. Then, either:- Take hold of your blocks and place them under your hands either side of the hips. Lift the back knee slightly off the ground and begin to inch the back foot backwards to extend the leg gradually behind you. Keep the corset of the core engaged to protect the lower spine, and feel the inner thighs drawing energetically towards each other. Keep the spine elongated, the knee and toes of the front leg facing the ceiling, shoulders away from the ears, and pause to take several slow breaths at each stage before moving any further.
or :- use a bolster under the pelvis, ensuring the hips are squared forward.
3. Repeat on the other side.
By Jasmine Pradhan from stretchandthecity.co.uk
Jasmine teaches Hatha yoga (sometimes dynamic, sometimes slower) with an open heart and an open mind. She believes that every individual already has the tools they need to achieve true happiness and wellbeing, and that sometimes they just need a little help discovering them. She truly believes that a dedicated yoga practice can be the key to that toolbox, and aims to facilitate that discovery for her students.
Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any new physical activity. Always practice under the supervision of a qualified teacher.