Split / Hanumanasana: The Benefits of Opening Your Psoas Muscle

Split, Hanumanasana, psoas muscle, deep core muscle, psoas connected fearThe psoas muscle is one of the most important muscles in the human body, as it initiates all of our movements and plays a key role in our core strength. This deep core muscle runs from the middle of the spine to the inner thigh and is closely linked to our fight or flight response, which is built into our bodies to respond to stress. As a result, the psoas muscle tends to become short and tight, leading to pain and discomfort in the lower back and hips. However, opening up through the psoas muscle can help release fear and tension and move us into a state of love and relaxation. When we release tension in the psoas muscle, we can experience a sense of freedom and lightness, which can help us accomplish the impossible and overcome our fears.

The psoas muscle, which is the primary muscle responsible for hip flexion, is believed to be connected to fear and the body’s fight or flight response. This is because the psoas muscle is directly linked to the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s automatic response to perceived threats. When we experience fear or stress, our sympathetic nervous system responds by releasing adrenaline and cortisol, which cause the muscles to tense up in preparation for either fight or flight. The psoas muscle, being closely connected to the sympathetic nervous system, is one of the muscles that tends to tighten and become chronically contracted in response to stress. Over time, this chronic tension in the psoas muscle can lead to a range of physical and emotional symptoms, including back pain, hip pain, digestive issues, and anxiety. Many people who suffer from chronic stress or trauma may also have a chronically tight psoas muscle. By learning to release tension in the psoas muscle through stretching and relaxation techniques, we can help to calm the sympathetic nervous system and reduce feelings of fear and anxiety. Yoga poses such as hanumanasana (split pose) can be particularly effective for releasing tension in the psoas muscle and promoting relaxation and calm.

Hanumanasana is a yoga pose that is named after the Hindu deity Hanuman, who is known for his strength, devotion, and agility. According to Hindu mythology, Hanuman was a loyal servant of Lord Rama, and played a crucial role in the epic Ramayana.

Split, Hanumanasana, psoas muscle, deep core muscle, psoas connected fearThe story goes that Hanuman was born to Anjana and Kesari, who were celestial beings in the form of monkeys. As a child, Hanuman was mischievous and playful, but he also possessed extraordinary strength and intelligence. He was a quick learner, and his curiosity led him to explore the world around him. One day, Hanuman saw the sun rising in the sky and mistook it for a fruit. He leaped up into the sky to grab it, but soon realized that the sun was too hot to touch. Undeterred, he continued his journey, and eventually landed on a mountain where he met the sage Matanga. The sage was impressed by Hanuman’s devotion and strength, and taught him the art of yoga and meditation. Over time, Hanuman became a skilled yogi and a devoted servant of Lord Rama. He played a key role in the Ramayana, helping Rama rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana. Hanuman’s bravery, loyalty, and agility made him a beloved figure in Hindu mythology, and he is worshipped as a symbol of strength and devotion.

In yoga, Hanumanasana is often associated with the story of Hanuman’s leap to the sun. The pose is a deep forward bend that requires flexibility in the hamstrings, hips, and groin. It is said to help release tension and stress in the body, and can also help improve balance, focus, and mental clarity. Overall, Hanumanasana is a powerful pose that symbolizes strength, agility, and devotion. It is a reminder of the importance of perseverance, curiosity, and dedication in our yoga practice and in our lives.

Hanumanasana, also known as the split pose, is a yoga posture that requires a significant amount of flexibility and strength in the legs, hips, and core. Practicing Hanumanasana regularly can provide a variety of physical and mental benefits, including:

  1. Increased flexibility: Hanumanasana requires an extensive range of motion in the hips and hamstrings, making it an excellent pose for increasing flexibility in these areas. Regular practice of this pose can help to reduce tightness in the legs, hips, and lower back.
  2. Improved balance: Maintaining balance in Hanumanasana requires the engagement of the core muscles and the development of proprioception (the sense of the body’s position in space). As a result, regular practice of this pose can lead to improved balance both on and off the mat.
  3. Strengthened muscles: The split pose targets the hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and core muscles, making it an effective way to strengthen these muscle groups. Building strength in these areas can improve overall athletic performance, reduce the risk of injury, and aid in everyday activities such as walking and climbing stairs.
  4. Increased focus and concentration: Holding the split pose requires a significant amount of mental focus and concentration, as the practitioner must maintain balance while also breathing deeply and engaging the muscles. This can help to improve mental clarity and focus both on and off the mat.
  5. Reduced stress and anxiety: Yoga postures, including Hanumanasana, have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety by promoting relaxation and deep breathing. The split pose, in particular, can help to release tension in the hips and lower back, which are common areas where stress and anxiety are held.

Overall, practicing Hanumanasana regularly can provide a wide range of physical and mental benefits. However, it is essential to approach this pose with patience and caution, as it can be challenging and potentially harmful if not practiced correctly. It is always advisable to work with a qualified yoga teacher who can provide guidance and support as you explore this and other challenging yoga postures.

To practice Hanumanasana, start in a supported bridge pose with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms at your sides. Play the song “Love is Here” by Alexia Chellun to create a sense of calm and relaxation. Repeat the following affirmations to yourself as you breathe deeply:

  • I am surrounded by love.
  • I am filled with love.
  • The love of my life is here.
  • Love is here.

Next, move into a classic sun salutation sequence to warm up your body and prepare for the deeper stretches to come. Begin with a kneeling knee circle and move into lying hand to big toes or supta padangusthasana, followed by standing hand to big toe or hasta padangusthasana.

Flow 1:

  • Warrior 1 or Virabhadrasana 1
  • Warrior 2 or Virabhadrasana 2
  • Triangle or Trikonasana
  • Pyramid Pose or Intense side stretch pose or Parsvottanasana
  • Warrior 3 or Virabhadrasana 3
  • Standing Split or Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana
  • Low Lunge or Anjaneyasana to ½ split
  • Pigeon or Kapotasana with backbend (hands in prayer)
  • Staff pose or Dandasana
  • Sitting head to knee or Janu Sirsasana (1 leg)
  • Wide leg stretch or Upavistha Konasana
  • 1 leg lift, circle, warrior 2 leg alt.
  • Split or Hanumanasana
  • Partner stretch at wall PNF, then lying down and try split one last time

Finally, end your practice with the Hanuman Mantra, “Om Hum Hanumate Vijayam,” which means “Strength through devotion.” Repeat this mantra to yourself as you sit in a comfortable seated position and allow yourself to fully embrace the feeling of strength and courage that comes with practicing Hanumanasana.

Born free: You are ever free.

Why do people feel the need to have “free time” or vacation time? Whatever you do, you’re doing it freely if you have the right attitude. A true spiritual seeker shouldn’t discriminate between “free” days and “work” days.  Learn to play even while you work. Real freedom is enjoying whatever you do. Whatever you do, play your part well and enjoy it.