While Ardha Hannumanasana has somehow cornered the name of half splits, Anjaneyasana makes up the other half. It is a powerful yet safe way to open up the front side of the body (especially the quads and iliopsoas). Most often you will come into the pose from Downward Dog, which is what I’ll describe here.
From Downward Facing Dog, step forward with the right foot and drop the left knee to the mat. Walk the right foot forward (or the left foot back) until you feel a stretch in the left quad and the right foot is directly under the right knee. Place the top of the left foot onto the floor. The toes of the right foot should be pointed straight forward and the knee should track directly over the toes. Check to make sure the left leg goes back in a straight line parallel to the edge of the mat. Squeeze the thighs lightly in toward the center line and square the hips to the front.
On an inhale, tuck the tailbone, lift the torso, and raise the arms overhead. As you exhale let the pelvis sink toward the floor. See if instead of pushing them toward the floor, you can simply release some tension at the hips so that they drop toward the mat of their own accord. On the next inhale, lift the sternum up toward the ceiling to initiate a backbend. Feel the opening on the entire front of the body, beginning with the left quad, up into the hips, belly, chest, and shoulders. The shoulderblades should be comfortably drawn down and away from each other. If it feels comfortable, you can let the gaze move up or even up and back to lead you further into the backbend. You can also deepen the stretch on the back leg by lightly pressing down with the top of the foot.
To come out, exhale the hands back to the floor and press to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat on the second side, holding for however long you held the first.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you or see you at one of my classes!