This posture commemorates the giant leap made by Hanuman, a divine entity in Hinduism who resembles a monkey, to reach the Lanka islands from the mainland of India.
In Ramayana story, Hanuman is known for his extraordinary strength and devotion. He was the friend and devoted servant of Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. At the time when Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Laksmana were in exile as hermits in the Dandaka forest, Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, came to their hermitage in the disguise of a monk and captured Sita. In their search for Sita, the brothers asked Sugriva, the king of the monkeys, for help. Hanuman the chief of the army of monkeys of king Sugriva went in search of Sita.
Hanuman crossed the sea by leaping over the straits, and found her in Ravana’s palace. He brought the news to Rama, who built a causeway of stones across the sea to Lanka and after a harsh battle slew Ravana and rescued Sita. Laksmana had been struck by an arrow during the battle, and it was said that the only cure was the juice of an herb which grew in the Himalayas. With a grand leap Hanuman crossed the sea and reached the Himalayas to bring back with him the herb that saved the life of Laksmana.
“It was the greatest leap ever taken. The speed of Hanuman’s jump pulled blossoms and flowers into the air after him and they fell like little stars on the waving treetops. The animals on the beach had never seen such a thing; they cheered Hanuman, then the air burned from his passage, and red clouds flamed over the sky ” (Ramayana, retold by William Buck)
Hanumanasana allow an amazing opportunity to split one’s self open both physically as well as metaphorically. It gives us an opportunity to truly dissect what is happening in our mind and witness it.
We are given an opportunity to see exactly how far we are from the goal. By taking the position of the witness in this pose, one can begin to practice observing thoughts, but not identifying with them, seeing that they are just thoughts, and not getting emotionally caught up in them. On a physical level, we have the opportunity to do the same, to just note the fact that this body can do this much of the pose at this point in time. By creating this type of distance, and realizing that you can observe the thoughts or the position that your body is in, you can begin to realize you are not the body or the mind. By gaining true awareness that you are not the body and the mind, but that your true Self is beyond that, you can attain yoga, enlightenment, and immortality.
When one is in the full pose, one’s most intimate body parts are grounded into the Earth, which is a unique and powerful experience. Fully open, fully leaping beyond limitation. It is an amazing feeling, and the perfect gesture is to lift the arms up in a prayer of gratitude and awe.
- Stretches the thighs, hamstrings, groins
- Stimulates the abdominal organs