How to Do Monkey Pose in Yoga (Guide to Hanumanasana)

Monkey Pose is an advanced asana that features the front splits position. Understandably, it’s not easy to perform. However, it comes with a plethora of physical benefits that make it worth the wait. In addition to the physical benefits, practicing Hanumanasana can really boost your confidence.

“Hanumanasana is a pose worth working for,” says Yoga Answered contributor Cat Harvey. “Although it can take weeks, months, or even years to master Monkey Pose, it totally pays off.”

Monkey Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name:  Hanumanasana
Pose Type: Seated Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Advanced pose
Targets: Hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, calves, sciatic nerve, pelvic muscles.
Benefits: The splits are the ultimate hip mobility position. During Hanumanasana, the hip flexor and quad of the back leg are stretched intensely, while the front hip and leg perform the opposite actions. This pose greatly affects the hamstrings, calves, and deep muscle tissue running along the back of the front leg. The alignment of the hips and pelvis requires a lot of strength and control, which works to prevent injuries. This is precisely the kind of control that can help women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. The upright position of the upper body strengthens the back, opens the chest and shoulder, and improves shoulder mobility.
Preparatory Poses: Low Lunge Pose, Lizard Pose, Standing Splits, Half Monkey Pose

How to Do Monkey Pose Step-By-Step

  1. From Downward Facing Dog pose, step your right foot forward, landing between your hands. Lower the back knee to enter the lunge position and untuck the toes on the back foot.
  2. Shift the position of your hips, bringing them back until they hover over your back knee. Straighten and lengthen though the front leg and flex your ankle.
  3. Start working your way forward with the front heel and/or your way back with your back knee, gradually bringing your hips towards the floor.
  4. As you’re entering the splits position, take care to keep the hips squared to the front of your mat.
  5. Bring your torso upright, opening the heart forward. Reach your arms overhead and bring the palms together.
  6. Hold it for up to 5 breaths. To exit, press the hands into the floor and get back into the lunge position. Repeat on the oyster side.

Beginner’s Tip

Although this pose is not suitable (or even possible) for beginners, you can work on other asanas to help you progress. Focus on poses with hip flexor extension (Low Lunge, Lizard Pose, Warrior I) and poses that feature a hamstring and calf stretch (seated and standing forward bends, Hand-to-Toe Pose).

After you condition your body with the postures above, you can proceed to practice Standing Splits and Half Monkey Pose. The latter can also be modified with yoga blocks – e.g., resting your hands on a pair of blocks or adding a block under your hips to support some of the weight. The main thing to remember on your journey to Hanumanasana is that it shouldn’t be rushed because it creates a lot of tension in the muscles and ligaments and may result in an injury if performed improperly.

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