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Ah, the elusive splits. They’re one of those things on a lot of people’s bucket lists, and while we all know we don’t practice yoga to be able to master x, y, or z pose, let’s just be honest - sometimes it’s nice to nail a pose you’ve always wanted to do, right?!
With that in mind, let’s talk splits.
For splits, we’ll want to look at what’s needed from our bodies - openness in the hamstrings, hip flexors and hips overall. Flexibility is hugely important for splits, and unfortunately, flexibility is just one of those things that takes lots of dedicated, consistent practice.
If the flexibility is there, however, here are six steps to get into a split.
Cobbler’s pose - This is a great stretch for opening up the hips and groins. You have a couple options here with the hands. Traditionally, the thumbs will come into the arches of the feet and pry the feet open like a book. Alternatively, you can reach the hands forward, maintaining a long spine and open collarbones as you exhale and come forward. Breathe at least five breaths here, maybe even ten.
Dancer’s pose - For dancer’s pose we’re opening up the hamstrings and hip flexors. It’s essentially a split but standing on one leg. A trick I like to use it to spread the toes of the lifted leg. This helps to ensure my legs are activated and with each breath I can actively lengthen, rather than just kicking the leg up there and letting it hang. Breathe 3 - 5 breaths here.
Half moon pose - In half moon, we’re working on opening up the inner thigh. If the bottom hand can’t reach the floor with a straight standing leg, just place a yoga block underneath. Breathe 3 - 5 breaths here.
Sugar cane pose - Take half moon to the next level with sugar cane pose just to get a bit deeper. Breathe 3 - 5 breaths in this pose.
Hamstring stretch - It’s time to take it down to the mat! Stretch one leg out in front, and then take the other leg out to the side (so if you’re looking down at your legs, they’re in 90 degrees), with the calf stretched back behind you. Keep the toes spread and the legs active, and as you exhale, melt the belly down towards the outstretched leg. Stay here for 5 - 7 breaths.
Split - When you’re ready, go from the hamstring stretch into the split. To get there, place the hands on the ground underneath the shoulders, and use the core strength to lift the pelvis off the mat and outstretch the legs into proper positioning. Curl the toes of the back leg until you feel stable and secure, and then you can uncurl them and place the top of the foot on the mat. Breathe here 3 - 5 breaths before pressing once again into the mat and using the core strength to lift up before changing legs.
Let me know how it goes for you down in the comments below!
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