Yoga Poses

Monkey pose Hanumanasana


Monkey pose, also known as the “splits” is an advanced leg stretch and hip opener.  Monkey pose simultaneously stretches the front and backs of the legs. These are the muscles that get the most use in walking, running and cycling.  Therefore the many benefits of Monkey pose, include prevention of injury from these sports.  However, this also means that extra care should be taken when entering the full posture. This is particularly true, for those with limited flexibility in the hips, pelvis and groin.  Half-Splits, a modified version of the pose, provides nearly all the same benefits, stretching the leg muscles and opening hip flexors.  Both the modified and full pose requires a full warm-up sequence including standing and seated forward bends to prepare the body for the intense stretch of monkey pose.

To start, begin in a hands and knees position.  Place the right foot forward, foot sole flat on the ground.  Place the hands on the right thigh, and draw the belly in to straighten the spine.  Place the hands on the ground or blocks next to the hips.  Slide the left knee back an inch of two.  Gently extend the right leg straight, heel on the floor, toes pointing up.  This is the modified half-splits version.  To continue into the full Monkey Pose, keep sliding the right heel forward, simultaneously sliding left knee back, lowering the pelvis and both legs to the floor in one straight line.  Close the eyes and bring the hands into prayer at heart centre. Hold for as long as is comfortable.  To exit the pose, bring hands to the floor, draw the right foot back towards the body. Return the start position. Repeat other side.

Teacher Queues

Visualization Comments

Imagine taking a great leap in the air, feeling light as you stretch the right toes forward and the left one back.

Technical Comments

When sliding right leg forward, rotate right thigh inward, pointing knee to the ceiling. Slide left foot straight back, aligning foot knee and hip.  In the final position, there should be one straight line from the right foot, to left foot.

Benefit Comments

  • Improves flexibility in legs, groin and hips
  • Strengthens, tones and stretches hip flexors and quads
  • Massages abdominal organs
  • Tones the pelvic area

Watch Out For:

  • Groin strain (use bolster and/or blocks)
  • Hamstring pain (modify to half-split)
  • Back leg alignment (both legs should be in one line)
  • Rolling to side (place bolster under pelvis, hands on blocks)


  • Hamstring or groin injury
  • Slipped disc
  • Hernia
  • Sciatica
  • Hip injuries


  • Tuck back toe under for stability
  • Place bolster or blanket under pelvis to avoid groin strain
  • Practice half-split
  • Place hands on blocks and pelvis on bolster, waiting for muscles to relax, rather than sliding into pose


  • Extend arms upward
  • Fold forward over front leg
  • Bend back leg up and catch foot

Yoga Counter Poses

  • Seated forward bend
  • Staff pose
  • Head to knee pose

Written By: Brenda Hamlet

Brenda Hamlet is a RYT 200 yoga teacher and journalist. More information about Brenda can be found at

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