After several days of deep hamstring and hip flexor opening, I decided to evaluate if I’ve made any progress in Hanumanasana. Luckily, Yoga Today makes it super easy to find a specific kind of class, either through their filter system or the search box. I decided on this class by Neesha. It’s the second in a two-part series, and since I had done the first one a few weeks ago (pre-challenge), I opted for part two. As always, Neesha does a great job getting the body ready for the peak pose, including standing splits at the wall, which really helped me to open in the front of the legs. When it was finally time to attempt the splits, I was able to go further than I ever had before–I usually rest on a block under my front leg, but today I had to remove it in order to move deeper into the pose. Progress!
Not only did Neesha make sure to warm us up physically, she also thread the story of Hanuman throughout the practice, encouraging us to encompass the spirit of this monkey. You see, Hanuman, son of the wind god Vayu, was born with all kinds of exceptional abilities: He could make himself big or small, leap over mountains and even change his shape altogether. But Hanuman was also very mischievous, and one day when he mistook the sun for a mango and tried to eat it, the sun god Surya struck him down and put a curse on him so that he wouldn’t remember his godly abilities. Then one day, Sita, the wife of his best friend Ram, was kidnapped. Ram asked Hanuman if he could go save her. Hanuman had no idea how he would do it, but his love for Ram gave him faith in his own abilities. With that confidence, he leapt (in a split pose) over the ocean to get to the island of Lanka where Sita had been taken.**
The message of Hanuman’s story is universal: we are all born with incredible abilities, we just have to have the faith and confidence to accomplish them. Unfortunately too often, our fears and doubts get in the way and we forget this; I know I do sometimes. That is one of the reasons my yoga practice has been so invaluable to me: with every difficult pose I accomplish off the mat, I am only further encouraged to strive for goals off of the mat. Today’s class was no different. Ten years ago I would have laughed if someone asked me to do a split. Five years ago, I probably would have tried it but only after qualifying that I had never been flexible enough to do splits as a kid and probably never would be. Today, I am confident that I’ll eventually get there, as long as I keep doing what I’m doing. Thanks, little monkey.
**If you’re interested in learning more about Hanuman and other stories behind the different yoga asanas (poses), you should check out Myths of the Asanas by Alanna Kaivalya!