Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Hanumanasana (Splits) Workshop This Saturday 20th April: Heads Up

Hanuman--the monkey god--took a giant leap from India to Sri Lanka.

As a person who grew up training for long-distance running without ever stretching I can assure you that by the time I discovered yoga in my early 20's I was pretty inflexible.  My hips and hamstrings were especially tight.  I am pretty sure I couldn't touch my toes but I cannot really say as the idea of doing it was so far from my thoughts that I do not remember ever really trying.

Yet here I am, at almost 40, teaching a workshop on how to do the splits! The difference for me was discovering yoga somewhere along the way.  I wanted to show you some of the best techniques I have found to help you towards this pose or to enhance it if you are already there.

In this workshop we will learn some of the ways to release tight muscles around the hips that might limit us in both forward and backward bending.  This is because hanumanasana has elements of both.

Because I was pretty inflexible and bent over a bit like a crushed spider from years of running without stretching when I started yoga I had to work consistently to get myself prepared enough for hanumanasana.

What I learned was that you needed to combine strength with mobility and so this workshop will make you stronger and more flexible so that you can find freedom of movement throughout your body.

We are going to approach hanumanasana from a variety of different orientations to gravity--upside down, the right way up, sideways, lengthways, and if I can think of any more dimensions I will give it a go!  I am pretty much going to avoid the 'usual suspects'.  We are not going to spend much time in sitting or 'passive' stretching poses.  This is going to be a fairly dynamic and active workshop.

Me in hanumanasana variation with gum tree prop

A few things you'll learn
Aside from feeling great, here are a few things you should take away from this workshop.

1) How to use your feet to improve strength, mobility and spinal freedom
One of the really interesting things about our bodies is how a slight adjustment at one seemingly inconsequential part can help us move deeper into a pose with greater freedom and no strain.  For this reason--perhaps surprisingly for a workshop on hip opening--I am going to give us a lot of tips on how to use your feet and ankles to improve strength and flexibility around the hip joint and cultivate freedom in your spine.

2) Most effective ways of stretching muscles to come into hanumanasana
In extreme poses like this one we need to make sure we do not injure ourselves by overstretching unprepared muscles.  One of the most effective ways to protect muscle while trying to stretch them is to learn how to activate the muscles as we lengthen them.  There are lots of sneaky tricks you can do to help this along and I am going to open the magician's door so to speak so they are not secrets anymore.

3) How to scoop your hips and reconnect to your centre
That all sounds a bit weird and mysterious, I know.  It's neither, really, but is a way for me to express an internal feeling that you need to establish in order to free your hips and lengthen the spine.  These two things are essential components of any yoga posture but will really help you in hanumanasana so you don't feel like you are being torn in two!

Final word
As always, the pose is not the desired goal of the practice.  I am much more interested in teaching you ways to move in freedom and we will use the pose as a way to look at how to achieve that freedom.  Whether or not you can or ever will do hanumanasana is beside the point.  Come along with a desire to learn something about yourself and a playful attitude.  You'll probably need a yoga mat and beach towel as well.

We are up behind the flags on the grassy plateau on the High Court side of Lake Burley Griffin.  Do contact me if you get lost or would like to ask some questions.  Also, I usually ask people to let me know if they are coming so I can send an SMS in the event of some improbable need to change venue etc.

Oh, it looks like it just snowed in Thredbo so I would wear some woollies.  I will have thermals on myself and possibly gloves.  We will keep moving though and I am getting us to learn very active poses rather than passive ones so lots of chance for blood to pump through those veins!

Hope to see you there!

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