Yin Yoga and Mythology Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 7

Hanuman Yin

40 min - Practice
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Our magic powers really shine when we are acting in service of others.. Hanuman is the monkey god who comes to the aid of Lord Rama and helped save the goddess Sita by leaping across an ocean in a single bound. His many powers shine brightest when he's helping others, making him a symbol of friendship, devotion, and service. In this class we get deep into the hips, working in a gentle, friendly way towards Hanumanasana, or splits. You will feel a sense of lightness and ease in the legs and hips.
What You'll Need: Square Bolster, Strap

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Welcome, I'm Kelly Kam, and I'm here to share a yin yoga and mythology practice with you. This one inspired by the god Hanuman. Hanuman is the monkey god, and he's a symbol of friendship, strength, and devotion. So it would be helpful if you have a strap. If you don't have a strap today, you can use a bathrobe belt, you can use a sock, or nothing at all.

You can't really do it without any props. So we're actually going to start with a little bit of meditation and centering practice. It's called generative somatics. And so find a seat that feels sustainable. If you want to sit on a pillow or blanket, you're very welcome to.

Find a seat where you feel like your spine is tall and clear. Your hands can rest on your thighs or anywhere that they feel comfortable. You can let your eyes close, or if you don't want to close your eyes, just let them soften about halfway shut so that you feel a little bit fuzzy and you can turn your gaze inward. As you turn your gaze inward and notice your breath, feel the length of your spine. Start by centering in the dimension of your length, from tailbone to crown, from root to sky.

And as you feel into this dimension of your length, it's a reminder of your inherent dignity. And it's also a reminder to see the dignity in each other, to witness everyone's goodness, to sit with integrity, nobility, and elegance, centering in the dimension of length. And then next we center into the dimension of our width. So feeling your body from side to side. Feeling the expanse across your rib cage and torso from hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder.

And as you breathe, allow yourself to expand out laterally. And this dimension of our width is a reminder of our connection to each other. Even think about the way we reach out to hug someone, we reach our arms out from the sides. And so as you center in this dimension of your width, it's a reminder of our interbeingness, how important our connection is with each other. And then third, we center into the dimension of depth.

So just feeling into the space behind you. Notice the air that touches your back, the feeling of whatever might be behind you in the space that you're in. And then let your awareness really slowly and gently filter from the back to the front, feeling the skin of your back, the inner skin of your back body, all the way through the back ribs, the abdominal organs. Slowly moving the awareness through your chest, your front ribs, the whole front of your body and the space out ahead of you. And as you feel the almost unfathomable depth of your own complex and incredible human body, it's a reminder of all your ancestors behind you, all the places you've already been and the challenges and the joys that have made you who you are.

And this great space out in front of us is a reminder of the great unknown still ahead. And so we feel into that, the support of our ancestors and all they've been through and how that's in our bones, it's in our DNA. Every challenge they've come through has helped us become stronger. And then lastly, we center into the dimension of what lights us up. And I ask you today for this practice to think about someone, anyone that just makes your heart joyful, that makes you feel light and happy and good.

And as you picture that being might even be a pet, could imagine offering this whole practice that you're about to do to them as a gift, as if afterwards you're going to present it on a silver platter for them. So how do you practice? How do you live? How do you move? How do you breathe when it's all a gift, not for us, but to give away to someone else?

So feeling your length, your elegance, your dignity, your width, our connection to each other, our depth, our ancestors and the great unknown in front of us and remembering who and what we love, who is important to us. And with that in mind, we can come to standing. So starting towards the back of your space, you can have your feet comfortably apart and all of your limbs really soft, easy shoulders, easy knees. And we'll begin by letting the head drop and just dropping chin to chest with a rounded upper back. Let your shoulders start to drape forward.

Your knees get a little softer and little by little, millimeter by millimeter, you're rolling down. Think of kind of like a cinnamon roll coiled in on itself. So just rolling and rounding. It might take you a few breaths to get all the way to your lowest point, might take you a whole minute or anywhere in between, but as you roll down, find whatever feels like your deepest point and you're very welcome to put your bolster, pillows or blocks underneath your hands here. I'm just going to let my arms hang.

Knees stay really soft. All the joints are easy, fluid like water. Feel the sturdiness of your legs holding you up. And then the ease of the spine like a waterfall just pouring from the pelvis. We're going to bring the hands down to the floor and take a slow walk forward into a downward facing dog as you walk your hands forward and arrive and downward dog can begin to bring your right foot to the outside of your right hand.

It might take a few steps to get it there, whatever it takes to bring that foot forward and then your back knee will come down. You can always use extra padding under the back knee if you need it. And then it's nice to bring the floor to you if it feels far away. So I'm going to use a bolster underneath my hands so that I feel like this is sustainable and I can really sink in a bit here. So Hanuman, this monkey god, he's a god of energy and power.

And you might know him because the splits are named after Hanuman, Hanumanasana. So we're going to head in that direction, but in a really friendly way. And bit by bit, you'll hear the story of how Hanuman saved the goddess Sita. But for now, let any tightness around the pelvis start to loosen. Imagine all those ropey tissues in there, unbraiding, loosening and just so much space through the pelvis.

Notice where your breath can move, it can slide between and around the bones. Can help soften any gripping. You can notice your arms, your hands, your shoulders, anywhere that there's an invitation to loosen a bit, go for it. Still feeling your dignity in that great length of your spine. You're still feeling the width from side rib to side rib, hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder, more connectedness and your depth.

Great expanse from back to front and always keeping right there in your heart that being who you love so much, let's do it for them. So to come out of this one, push your prop if you're using it off to the side and we'll just play it in reverse and come right back through downward facing dog, pulling the right foot back to meet the left, visiting downward dog just briefly. And then slowly walk your hands back towards your feet, bend the knees any amount and we're going to hang right here in this rounded soft forward bend again, the dangle, also called the ragdoll. Sometimes this time if you want to take an arm variation, you could hold your elbows or step on your hands, even hold your ankles or put your hands on a block, but let it be really soft. So as much as you're able to letting the muscles loosen from the bones and just drape, drape towards the floor.

So Hanuman had all these magic powers and tons of superpowers, but there was a caveat that when he got all of these magic powers, the other gods and goddesses said, well, this being would just be way too powerful, probably dangerous. If you knew all the superpowers that he had. And so they made it such that Hanuman couldn't remember those powers until he was needed until one of his friends needed his help. Go ahead and start to walk it out again real slowly, one palm at a time back into downward facing dog. And this time we'll take the left foot forward as many steps as it takes to get there.

Left foot outside of right and left hand and back knee on the ground. We're going to pull the bolster in again, bring it underneath the hands and settle into this dragon pose here. So Hanuman's got all these magic powers, but doesn't remember them. He thinks he's just a regular silly monkey until his best friend, Lord Rama needs him because Rama's beloved Sita was stolen by a demon and taken to the island of Lanka. And so they follow the trail, Rama and his army and Hanuman.

They follow Sita's trail all the way to the edge of the ocean and then they stop. They don't know what to do. How do they get across the ocean? Hanuman kneels by the side of the water, doesn't know what to do. He thinks, ah, I'm just a silly little monkey.

How can I help? And then all of a sudden behind him, one of his friends comes, happens to be a bear. And this friend reminds Hanuman of all these magic powers that he has. And so Hanuman kneeling by the side of the ocean gets ready and he takes a giant leap. And in one mighty leap, he crosses the ocean, lands on the island of Lanka, and he finds Sita, settling in here, sinking in, feeling the ground.

Wherever your body touches it, make contact and drop in. Could you imagine breathing right between your muscles and your skin, the whole outer layer just under your skin, slide the breath into that spot so that your whole outside edge, your whole periphery, softens a bit. So to come out of this dragon, this time I'm just going to bring the front leg back to meet the other leg in a kneeling position. So left knee comes near the right knee and you can sit down on your shins. I'm going to move my bolster off to the side because we don't need it for the moment.

Now if you have a strap, that would be the time to grab that strap, but we can do this all just as easily without a strap. So no worries if you don't have one. So I'm going to come onto my back. My strap is already set up in a loop, made a circle with it. So you could do that with yours now if you have one.

And then the strap is going to go around the ball of the right foot, left leg long on the ground. And then as I lift the right leg up into the sky, going to take the other side of the circle and put it around the back of my skull so that I can hang out here and not have to hold on to anything. You can use the long tail of your strap to tighten or to loosen your strap here. So you're finding a place that fits you just right and it's sustainable, right? So if it feels like too much, back it up just a little bit so that you can hang out here for a bit and this Supta Parangusthasana.

And if you don't have a strap, you're just holding on the back of your right leg anywhere that you can hold on. Let your muscles relax as much as possible, just looking for any place in your body where you're just kind of working, working for no reason. And go ahead and turn the lights off. Look for any big areas of tension, you can just go limb by limb, inch by inch. And try to loosen everything off the bone.

So Hanuman makes this great leap across the ocean and he locates Sita and then leaps back across the ocean again to tell Ram where she is. And then Ram and his army can go and save Sita. So Hanuman saved the day but he didn't jump across the ocean to show off. He didn't do it to be cool. He did it to help his friend.

So let's gonna let go of this right leg very carefully. First I take the strap off of my head and then off the foot and just let it slowly drop until you feel the right leg meet the ground and we'll have a pause here for a moment just to let all the energy be redistributed to feel whatever it is you feel in this moment. And as you feel ready taking that strap and this time bringing it around the ball of the left foot and the other side of it coming around the skull. If you're not using the strap you're reaching with your arms for anywhere you can hold on behind your left leg and then letting whatever can soften soften anywhere that you don't have to work turn it off. The bottom leg be so heavy and soft on the ground shoulders easy front ribs softening down towards back ribs.

So Hanuman's magic powers his super powers they only get turned on when he's using them to help somebody. So a good reminder he's this beautiful symbol of friendship and I wonder if someone asked your best friend about what are your magic powers and they said hey what's she or they like I bet your best friend would rattle off a list of your amazing traits and qualities but I know sometimes it's hard for us ourselves to remember them. So what would your best friend say is your gift the thing that you have to offer the world. Release the strap from your head and from your foot letting the left leg slow slowly float down to meet the right leg on the ground and when you arrive pause feel settle we're just waiting we're waiting until our waters clear again and when you feel like the waters of you are clear and you can start to collect yourself and will come up to sit so bringing the knees in rolling off to either side to come up to sitting and we'll take caterpillar next so for caterpillar the legs are both extended you got some options you can sit on a pillow bolster blanket you can put a rolled up blanket underneath your knees I'm just gonna keep it real simple and same thing like when we were standing in the beginning and we thought of ourselves like a cinnamon roll coiling down you have that same idea here of the head dropping the back rounding starting at the upper back and moving slowly down through the bones of the spine one at a time at any point your hands might walk forward for support and you're just rounding over your legs legs heavy and easy and still on the floor jaws soft and loose shoulders nice and easy forearms heavy when you find the place that you want to land just settle into the suggestion of stillness and quiet so when they finally did save Sita from the demon Ravana at a big party to celebrate and Lord Ram presented Hanuman with a really beautiful necklace made of precious gems rubies and emeralds and pearls and diamonds really the most precious gift anyone could ever imagine when they presented it to Hanuman and Hanuman put it in his mouth and began to chew on it and everybody at the party started to laugh and they said oh that's silly monkey he doesn't even know how valuable that is and Hanuman looked around and he said no it's not that said I want to see what's inside of it because if Sita and Ram are not inside of it then what's the point I don't need all these gems it's worthless to me and everyone kind of mocked him and they said well are they inside of you because you're worthless then if they're not inside of you and Hanuman took his hands to his chest and he peeled open his chest to reveal inside in his heart where Sita and Ram and on every fiber of every muscle on every bone in his body it said Ram Ram Ram Ram his whole body just a tribute to devotion to his best friend. Settling in even a little more I can think about yourself like a snow globe that got shaken up and you want to feel every particle dropping like sand to the bottom of a glass of water everything sinking towards the earth for a few more breaths.

Start to walk your hands back and little by little roll up through your spine take a moment to windshield wiper your legs feet on the ground just moving the knees from side to side so we're gonna head towards our peak pose now our Hanumanasana or splits pose but we can use lots of props to make it doable doesn't have to be scary so I'm gonna bring a bolster around and I'll show you how to use the bolster and you could put a bolster and pile it up with blankets too if you want or blocks or pillows or whatever you've got to put underneath you the right foot is gonna step over the bolster and we've got the support here so that as you start to inch your right foot forward and your left knee back you might come down to rest on the bolster I'm just sending the right foot away lengthening the right leg the left leg back and again you could pile up more things if you need to or you could always stay with the back knee bent and the front leg extended like this in what we sometimes called Arda Hanumanasana half splits and I'll show you without a bolster what it might look like if you don't have one no problem you could stay here with your hips over your back knee and your front leg extended or any amount you're just inching the front leg forward and or the back leg back until you find whatever is your version of the splits where you could stay upright or you could even fold over your front leg in a rounded soft way so it's really helpful to remember now that we're not doing this for us we're not doing this to be cool we're not doing this so we can add it to our our pocket and say yeah I can do a split what would it feel like to do it for somebody else what would it feel like to be totally unselfish here and imagine you're giving this pose to your friend on a silver platter tied with a bow to that person you remembered in the beginning who makes you feel so full of love how do you breathe when your shape is an offering and know that if it starts to get intense you can get out if you need to there's no mandate that you're stuck here for the whole time but also know that you can do hard things that you can feel a little awkward or uncomfortable but there also might be some ease at the same time that we can have respect for this discomfort that we feel and be curious about it Mmm Mmm Come out of this one really carefully. It's a big shape, so go slow. You can start to walk your hands back, and it's a little bit like having to pull yourself back together. You got to kind of call on your low belly muscles to help bring that front leg back. If you had a bolster or pillows, you could push them off to the side, and bringing your right knee back to meet your left knee, a couple of choices.

You might just sit on your shins with a tall spine, or if it feels good to you to come into a child's pose, go ahead and fold over your legs in a child's pose. I'm just going to sit and pretend I'm Hanuman kneeling at the edge of the ocean, and I'm going to remember who and what I care about and put them in my heart so that when I take the other side of the shape, they're right there with me, and I remember our interbeingness. So go ahead and grab your prop if you're using it, and we'll take the left foot this time and bring it forward towards the top of the space, one hand on either side of it, and then starting to just inch it forward, inching the left leg forward, you can also inch the right leg back. Little bit at a time, just easing into it until you find whatever's your place to land can be like the princess and the pea and just stack a million things under your hips so that you're supported, or you can come on down with no props. The option to stay upright or the option is there to fold forward if you desire.

So Hanuman's story is a good reminder that our liberation, our joy, it's all connected that my liberation and your liberation, they happen together, that my joy and your joy, no different. We need each other. We need each other so that we can shine because we really only truly shine. Our magic powers come forth when we're acting in devotion, when we do it in service to help our loved ones, to help our friends. That's how we really glow.

See, if you can relax your skin here, just noticing the touch of the air and the little hairs of your skin, imagining every pore on your skin, breathing, drinking the breath in, softening the whole outline of you so that you can loosen, unwind, and settle just a bit more. It's kind of wild, isn't it, telling you to loosen, unwind, and settle in a pretty extreme pose, pretty intense pose, but it's a good teaching, right, that no matter what's happening in the midst of everything, we can still be kind, we can still be soft, and we can glow. Let the breath make you glow from the inside out, and then starting to come on back here. Walk your hands in. You could either come back to kneeling like we did before, or you could fall off to the left side, push the props away if you have them, and bring the legs in.

Give yourself a little hug. Bring in a rest now, so coming onto your back, a well-deserved rest after that hard work as you lie down, paying attention to the feeling of the energy in your body, noticing any vibration, any humming or buzzing, notice where it feels good. If it feels good somewhere in your body, go there with your mind's eye, locate that good feeling, and see if you can let it start to spread out. Take up more space inside you, maybe the whole interior of your body could fill up with that good feeling, that humming, buzzing, energetic feeling. Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Wiggle fingers and toes, feel your electricity waking up. And little by little, coming back to sit, there's no rush.

As you do, come up to sit, arrange yourself well, sit tall, wide and deep. And we'll take Vayu Mudra to finish our practice today because Vayu, the God of the wind, was Hanuman's father. So take your thumb and press it down over the second knuckle of your pointer finger. The other three fingers can be nice and outstretched. You can let those hands rest face up on your knees or thighs.

And so Vayu, the God of the wind, is the reason that Hanuman can leap across the ocean like that. The wind gives us energy, helps us fly. So as you press down on your pointer finger, notice any feeling of energy in your body. Does it help you feel more lifted, more bright, more bubbly? And one last time, thinking about that person who makes you feel so full of love.

And we offer all this energy that we've created here today to them so that they might be happy, so that they might feel good, so that they will be well. You can bring your palms together in a prayer at your heart and seal it in with a bow. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Comments

Sara S
2 people like this.

Even though Hunuman possessed superpower. He still needed help of the wind. Was the wind like me for my friend? Just curious ?  
Alessandra  Y
Awesome. Hanumanasana has always been one of my favourite peak poses.
Ivalo
3 people like this.
Love your series

Lori
2 people like this.
This is wonderful, thank you so much. I'm excited to practice the rest of the series with you.
Sandra Židan
Wonderful practice and story! Thanks, Kelly! Regards! 💝🌹🌼
David G-
1 person likes this.
Kelly, thank you for this practice; you imbued it with pointed pathos once again. Hanuman's heart is a powerful symbol.  Best, David 
Debbie Kephart
you have the most poetic heart and warm soul
Shanna
1 person likes this.
The strap around the ball of the foot and occipital ridge was exquisite!
Kelly K
Shanna thanks Shanna! xoxo
Kelly K
Debbie Kephart love you so much Debbie!!!!
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