How to Do a Standing Split

Three Methods:Warming Up Before Tackling Standing SplitsDoing Standing SplitsTrying Out Some Variations

A Standing Split is a tough yoga pose that requires good flexibility and strength. It stretches and works your hamstrings in particular, so it’s important you spend a few minutes warming up your muscles before you attempt it. Once you have mastered a Standing Split, there are a few variations you can try to deepen the stretch.

Method 1
Warming Up Before Tackling Standing Splits

  1. Image titled Do a Standing Split Step 1
    Do a light cardio warm-up. Standing splits are a difficult pose, so you need your body to be well-prepared for before attempting. It’s important to stretch out and engage your muscles, but you can start by doing a light cardio warm-up to get the blood flowing and your heart pumping.[1] Do a quick dynamic warm-up for around five minutes. This could include the following exercises:
    • Light jogging on the spot.
    • Leg swings and arm swings.
    • Butt kickers.
    • High knees.
    • Jumping jacks.
    • Squats.[2]
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    Stretch out your hamstrings. Standing splits work your hamstrings especially, so it’s a good idea to stretch out these muscles a little before you begin.[3] A good stretch for the hamstring is the crossover stretch. To do this, stand up straight and then cross your right leg over your left, placing your right foot next to, but outside, your left foot.
    • Then gently and slowly roll your upper body down and reach towards the ground with your hands until you feel a stretch.
    • Hold for up to 30 seconds, and then release.
    • Now cross your left leg over your right, and repeat the stretch.[4]
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    Do a quick yoga sequence to prepare. Before you move onto the standing splits, you should do a short yoga sequence to ensure that your body is fully prepared. This will help you stretch out your muscles and relax your mind. Sun salutations A and B are both cited as excellent ways to prepare for standing splits.[5] You could also move through the following poses:
    • Start in mountain pose. Stand up straight with your hands in prayer position in front of your chest.
    • Then move into Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose). From mountain pose step your left leg back and turn your left foot out around 30 degrees. Then carefully tilt forward at the hips and bring your hands forwards and down towards your right foot.
    • From this position you can move into High Lunge by bending your right knee and dropping your hips as you lean back and raise both your arms above your head.
    • You can then move into Warrior III. Stand and bring your feet back together and then raise your right leg behind you. Tilt your body forwards and ahead of your standing foot.[6]

Method 2
Doing Standing Splits

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    Start in Mountain Pose. Now you warmed up, you are ready to progress into Standing Splits. Start by getting back into Mountain Pose. Stand up straight and hold your hands in front of your chest in a prayer position. Then let your arms fall down to your sides and just concentrate on breathing with a steady rhythm.
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    Move into Standing Forward Fold. Inhale and raise both your arms up over your head. Pause and then exhale. As you breathe out, bend at your hips and reach your hands down towards the floor to bring you into Standing Forward Fold. Straighten your legs but do not lock your knees.
    • Bring your hands down so that they are flat on the ground.[7]
    • If you cannot place your hands comfortably on the floor, you can place a yoga block beneath each one.[8]
    • You should feel a stretch, but not be in pain.
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    Raise one leg. Once you are in the Standing Forward Fold you are almost ready to move into Standing Splits. Next, shift your weight onto you right foot and evenly across both of your hands. Once you feel secure and your weight is supported you can slowly raise your left leg up behind.
    • Life your leg up as high as you can behind you.
    • You should be aiming for a smooth controlled movement.
    • Remember to keep breathing with a calm, steady rhythm.[9]
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    Deepen the stretch. You can deepen the stretch even further once you have elevated one leg up behind you. Carefully walk back your hands towards the heel of your right foot, and bring your torso in close to your standing leg. You can also tuck in your chin.
    • Breathe deeply as you do this, and try to relax your shoulders.[10]
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    Try to square your hips. As you raised your let leg up behind you, your left thigh will probably have externally rotated a little. Try to counter this by gently internally rotating it and squaring your hips. You will need to try to roll your left hip down and towards the floor to try and square it with the right hip.[11]
    • It is very difficult to fully square your hips in this position, so don’t push it. Only go as far as you are comfortable with.[12]
    • Lowering your left leg a little might help you to square your hips.
    • As you do this, be sure to keep your right foot and knee facing straight forwards.[13]
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    Hold and release. Once you have gone as deep into the stretch as you are comfortable with, hold it for five slow, controlled and rhythmic breaths. Then slowly and carefully lower your left leg to the floor and move back into Standing Forward Fold.
    • Repeat all these steps on the other side, raising your right leg behind you.
    • Hold the pose for the same amount of time, and try to be symmetrical in your movements.[14]

Method 3
Trying Out Some Variations

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    Do Standing Splits against a wall. A good variation of the Standing Splits involves resting your raised leg against a wall, or top on something such as a chair, table or a ballet barre. To perform this variation you can just move from a Standing Forward Fold into Standing Split a suitable distance in front of the object you will rest you raised foot on.[15]
    • Alternatively, you could start from a King Arthur Pose. This involves kneeling with your back to the wall and placing the shin of your left leg behind you and against the wall. Your toes should be touching the wall, and your knee a few inches in front of it.
    • Your right leg should be bent in a kneeling position with your knee in a line above your heel.
    • Bring your hands down to the ground in front of you, and place them shoulder-width apart.
    • Now slowly lift your left knee off the ground, and walk your left foot up the wall behind you.[16]
    • This variation allows you to support your elevated leg against a solid object, which is particularly helpful if you are still building up strength and flexibility.[17]
    • It's a good idea to practice the pose against a wall before you try it without any support.
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    Bend your standing leg when in the pose. Bending and then straightening your standing leg when you are in a Standing Split is a minor but powerful variation that really deepens and the stretch and works the muscles.
    • Once you are in a Standing Split, carefully bend the knee of your standing leg and sink a little into the stretch.
    • Then straighten the knee and bring your raised leg up even higher.[18]
  3. Image titled Do a Standing Split Step 12
    Grab the ankle of your standing leg. A final variation, that will deepen the stretch, just involves you reaching around and grabbing he ankle of your standing leg with the opposite hand when you are in a Standing Split. This variation requires a lot of balance and composure, so be sure you are breathing with a nice, steady rhythm and completely in control before you attempt it.[19]

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Categories: Splits (Gymnastics)