Hips & Hanumanasana

Hips & Hanumanasana

splits

HIPS & HANUMANASANA

What a posture! Hanumanasana is such a beautiful expression of what is possible in our physical yoga practice. However, it’s not about “achieving” Hanumanasana but about the exploration of what is possible in terms of hip mobility and what we learn from the preparation for the posture. 

When we practice with Matt, we learn about the “4 quadrants of the hips.” Some areas of the hips may receive more attention than others, so it’s vital we pay attention to all areas. This will allow us to boost our ability to attain better hip mobility overall. The four quadrants are the following: 

  1. Front: hip flexors and quadriceps
  2. Back: buttock muscles (gluteus maximus and piriformis)
  3. Inside: adductors (longus, brevis, magnus)
  4. Outside: abductors (gluteus minimus, medius, and TFL)

When we understand what they are, we can focus on what to do. Strengthening (“the squeeze”) will ultimately allow us to expand, that is, increase flexibility in Hanumanasana.

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HIP & PELVIC DRILLS

Crescent Pose with Pelvic Articulations

In the video, Matt layers in movements of the pelvis with a facilitated stretch in Crescent Pose. We see how the articulations (anterior and posterior tilts of the pelvis) offer different sensations. What remains constant is the pushing down of the ball mound of the back foot and the heel of the front foot, combined with the action of “dragging” the feet to opposite ends of the mat, which is the “squeeze” in. The hip flexor muscles of the back leg and the hamstrings of the front leg fire up, preparing us for Splits.

Hip-Flexor Block Drill

Activating the hip flexors is the goal here. Drills like these are very humbling! It may be much more challenging than it appears. With the use of blocks, we’re hiking the hip of one leg up, while squeezing the foot of  the same leg forward to touch the yoga block.  

WATCH THE VIDEO

HIPS & HANUMANASANA: SQUEEZE IN TO EXPAND OUT

ARDHA HANUMANASANA

Ardha Hanumanasana provides a great opportunity to explore and activate the inner and outer hip muscles. This is important because it supports our ability to maintain a more neutral hip position in Hanumanasana. We may be tempted to veer towards a more open pelvic position as a way of compensating for a lack of control or strength. When we strive for a more balanced strength in all 4 quadrants of the hips, we can benefit from a safer alignment for our bodies in the posture. In the video, we see how the “windshield wiper” action of the front leg helps to activate the inner and outer hip muscles. Matt then takes the drills to the next level and offers additional variations that once again ignite the hip flexors and the hamstrings.

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STANDING SPLITS AT THE WALL

In the video, Matt points out that this variation of Hanumanasana shows us where we have the most challenges. Without the floor underneath us, it invites us to be more aware of our alignment.  

The variations in the video also offer some fun play with strength. Standing Splits can become more of a Warrior 3–like position: Because the top leg is straight, we have the option to press that foot into a wall.  Next, we press down into blocks underneath our hands in order to lift the bottom foot off of the ground and squeeze towards the blocks. Again, the hip flexors (which may sometimes be neglected) are strengthened here. Strengthening the hip flexors keeps them safe in the back leg and takes some of the strain off the hamstrings in the front leg in Hanumanasana.

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HANUMANASANA!

There is an exclamation mark after Hanumanasana, because what a posture it is! It definitely makes its own statement, and, as we’ve learned, the required strength is the safest path to greater lengthening and flexibility. We contract in order to expand. It’s easy to be intimidated by this posture, but if we are patient and consistent with building strength, we can reap the benefits of flexibility over time. Applying the techniques offered in the video can help promote greater access.

Register for Matt’s next workshop, Hip Release, to learn more about the 4 quadrants of the hips and how to apply techniques that will improve hip health and mobility.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Hips & Hamstrings

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