I’ve had to hang my hat up when it comes to using the splits as a go-to party trick and instead respect this pose as one that should be warmed into. The benefits of the splits, or as we call it yoga – Hanumanasana, are ten fold. It is a deep thigh stretcher and the best for hip opening. As part of my rehab on a fractured hip (eek!) I made sure to slowly warm up into the splits weekly. However the best part of this pose? It develops a patience and perserverance. I am still mastering Hanumanasana with my right foot in front. The joy is in the practice. Below are some examples of how to work towards mastering this pose.
Step One: Pigeon Pose is a variation on advanced yoga asan Eka Pada Rajakapotasana. Get into this posistion trying to keep the front shin parallel and hold for 30 seconds + on each side
Step Two: Straddle Posistion is known in yoga as Upavistha Konasana and is a level one asana. Sit wide legged and slowly reach forward with your arms. Ideally you want to reach your head to the floor. Hold this pose for over one minute.
Step Three: Forward bending triangle pose is a fantastic hamstring opener. Alot of flexibility is needed in this area in order to achieve the splits. Also known as parsvottanasana you want to make sure your chest is directly over your thigh and slowly try and bring your forehead to the shin. Breathe deeply and take it slow. Start with 30 seconds on each side and slowly reach one minute per leg.
Step Four: Going back to floor poses for the final step is the revolved head of knee pose – Parivrttra Janu Sirsana. To do this correctly you will want to make sure your foot is flexed and knee facing skywards; keep reaching with the crown of your head and try and open up with your body. Hold this asana for up to a minute on each leg.
Step Five: The Splits. Remember to only attempt this after practice the above four steps for a while and being fully warmed up. If you are not quite ready to express this move fully, then make sure you use blocks where necessary.