Standing Split: Step-by-Step Instructions
In the Standing Splits Pose, the stretch in your quad and hamstrings is more important to focus on than how high you lift your leg behind you. Also known as Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana, this pose is excellent for opening your hips and strengthening the legs.
Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana
(Pronounced as "OORD-vah prah-SAH-reetah ache-ah-POD-ahs-anna")
The Sanskrit word urdhva means "high above," prasarita is "stretched out," and eka pada translates to "one foot."
How to do Standing Split
Stand up tall and straight in Tadasana on your yoga mat with your feet together. Inhale as you raise both your arms up straight in the air above your head.
Keeping both legs straight, lift your left foot off of the floor in front of you and raise it up to about knee level. Lengthen your torso up to the sky as you balance on your right foot.
Now prepare yourself to do the next movements simultaneously. You are going to use the momentum from bending forward to help swing your left leg up in the air behind you like the swaying of a pendulum. Engage your right thigh muscles strongly to support you. When you bend forward, you will reach down with your left hand and aim to grab the back of your right ankle.
After taking a big inhalation, exhale fully as you bend forward quickly. Keep looking at the space between your hands as your left foot, torso, arms and head all move down quickly together.
Swing your left foot up in the air behind you as high as you can. This momentum will help you reach down further to grab the back of your right ankle tightly with your left hand. Place your right hand on the floor beside the outside of your right foot to help yourself balance.
If you are too stiff to grab your ankle and put your right hand on the floor, then put your right hand on a yoga block instead. Then grab the back of your right leg with your left hand after you have reached down as far as you can.
Keep both knees straight. Point the toes of your left foot up. Keep your pelvis straight without tilting it to either side as you balance. If you have the flexibility, try to bend your left elbow and pull your torso all the way down to touch your right leg.
Keep the kneecap of your standing leg facing straight ahead. Press your right palm flat into the floor if you can and use that push to help raise your left leg a little higher behind you in the air.
Keep both of your legs equally active to maintain your balance. Shift your weight very slightly between the heel and then the ball of the foot of your standing leg until you find the perfect center of your foot to balance on. Do not collapse the arch of your foot.
Stay for 30 seconds or up to a minute. Exhale as you lower your leg and repeat the pose on the other side for the same duration.
Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana
Contraindications and Cautions:
Severe lower back injuries with inflammation
Recent ankle or knee injuries
During pregnancy: Seek the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher.
Greatly improves circulation
Cools the nervous system
Stretches out tension in the hamstrings, calves and thigh muscles
Tones the legs and hips