How To Do Monkey Pose

By: Chris Freytag, CPT

Chloe Freytag demonstrating monkey pose in a blue tank top and yoga pants

This pose strengthens the back and core and stretches the hamstrings. Monkey pose is used in many yoga practices right before, after, or in between a Forward Fold in order to encourage the practitioner to lengthen his or her body and make the Forward Fold more complete. Without Monkey Pose we fall into the habit of placing out body where it is most comfortable. With Monkey Pose, we encourage more length and stretch to be brought into each pose. You should learn how to do Monkey Pose.

You may have noticed there are many poses in yoga are named after animals due to the nature or appearance of the pose. Some seem obvious and some are hard to figure out. Check our the reasons for this in Yoga Journal. Nevertheless, Monkey Pose looks exactly like it sounds. Picture an ape dragging his knuckles and walking around. This pose is similar in nature with one striking difference: the length of the spine and hamstrings. You want your posture to be long and your legs to get a stretch.

Practicing poses such as Monkey remind you how much the mind and body are tied together in yoga. To be done properly, Monkey Pose cannot be done without the intentional decision to stretch out the body. In other words, try to imagine your hamstrings are like taffy being pulled longer. Imagine your spine being one inch taller and the vertebrae stretching away from one another.

Monkey Pose is great for everyone. If you are extremely tight in your low back or hamstrings you may want to use a yoga block to place your hands on. This helps “bring the floor closer” to you.

Here are the steps to performing Monkey Pose:

1) From a forward fold position walk your fingers out in front of your toes a few inches.

2) Lengthen the back of your legs and straighten spine as much as you can.

3) Keep your eyes on your fingers and neck relaxed.

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