If we were in a yoga class right now and I said “Hanuman” you would probably:
a) cringe, grimace and find an excuse to fix your clothing, mat, hair, etc.
b) become frustrated, enraged, and irritated that some idiot came up with this pose.
c) worry intensely about how your groin will feel for the next several minutes.
d) one of you would get really excited. Maybe.
So many yoga classes depart from the history of the postures, with one exception. Hanuman is the story you hear over and over again, his devotion, his leap of faith, blah blah blah while the teacher tries desperately to keep you distracted from the OUCH my CROTCH mantra that has taken over your mind.
Have you ever really thought about Hanuman? His life story is a little soap-opera-esque, demi god, half monkey, big fan of the king. But his power came from hearing the voices of people cheering him on as the king asked the impossible: go back to the Himalayas and find the herb that will save my brother. He didn’t think he could do it. Onlookers told him he could, and when he got back, he couldn’t find the right herb (he was half monkey, after all). Rather than giving up, Hanuman put the entire mountain on his back and jumped back to Sri Lanka, stretching as far as he could and saved the king’s brother.
Has this happened in your life? My guess is that it has. Someone has probably asked the impossible of you, supportive people cheered you on, and you made an incredible leap of faith. You’re probably not a monkey, and you likely can’t carry mountains on your back, but the principle is what is pivotal to the pose. Next time you are there, close your eyes. Hear the supportive groans of your fellow yogi(ni)s, and have faith that the posture will come in time.
Off the mat, the story of Hanuman isn’t about the splits, and it isn’t even always having faith. The essence of Hanuman is listening to the people in your life who say YOU CAN DO IT.
Sahas badan tumharo yash gaave
(Thousands of living beings are chanting hymns of your glories)