Whether you call it Hanumanasana, the monkey pose, or the splits, this has to be the ultimate seated yoga pose. From childhood dreams of doing the ballet splits to grown-up yogi ambitions, set yourself the challenge this year and embark on a journey of discovery as you stretch your way to yoga’s version of the splits.
1 Month to Get into the Splits
Before we begin, let’s get something out of the way. It’s true that this pose is the most challenging and intimidating one. Without a shadow of doubt, the full split pose requires excellent flexibility in the glutes, calves, quads, hamstrings and hips. Obviously if you’re hyper mobile or very flexible already, it may be easier for you to get into the splits. That said, don’t think that this pose is out of reach. Human bodies are amazingly adaptable and with some work and training, its certainly possible. It can even be achieved in one month. Yes! I did just say that. Hell, you’ve nothing to lose. And don’t worry you don’t actually have to do this in one month. Unless you want to. Seriously, we won’t be checking up on you. Even so, if the splits are not for you, working towards them will help improve your flexibility and mobility no end.
Yoga to Help You Get into the Splits
Yoga is a fantastic tool for increasing flexibility and assisting with the end goal of getting into the splits. The secret of success comes down to the simple fact that stretching increases flexibility. It’s vital to practise yoga regularly though to get your body supple and flexible enough for the splits. A few classes here or there won’t cut the mustard. This needs to be a daily practise with 100% commitment. For a comprehensive guide on how to train your body for the splits, check out our recent blog, ‘6 stretches to get you into the splits in 4 weeks'.
Once you’ve got yourself into a regular routine of practising yoga, you might like to add some yoga blocks into your asanas. Yoga blocks are a great way to provide support. Using these daily whilst doing your low lunge poses can help you to gradually extend into the splits. Try our firm foam support block or bamboo support block for extra support.
How to be Flexible
Aside from daily yoga, there are definitely things that you can do to improve flexibility. Drinking water regularly will help to keep the fascia around muscles hydrated and smooth and as a result, more flexible. Multi-vitamins that incorporate Vitamins C & D, Magnesium and Calcium are great for all round bone and body health. You might also like to consider Glucosamine as this supplement promotes optimum joint health and mobility. Stress makes the body tense up so everything you do to keep the body relaxed through meditation and relaxation rituals will help with reducing tension.
Stretches to Get into the Splits
Only try Hanumanasana when you feel really ready. Try the following stretches as part of your warm-up routine:
- Standing Forward Pose
Start in Mountain pose (standing upright, arms by side, feet together). As you look upwards, reach arms up and over head. Exhale and reach down over your legs, keeping your back flat. Try putting your hands on the floor in front of you if you are able to do so. All parts of your feet should be touching the floor. Hold for at least 20-30 seconds.
- Low Lunge
Start in downward facing dog. Now step right foot between your hands. Gently lower the back knee towards the ground. Keep toes untucked. Place both hands on top of the right thigh. Bend into the front leg. Torso should remain upright, stretching the hip flexors. You can either reach arms up to the sky, place on hips or keep on front thigh. For more of a backbend, lift chest to the sky. Hold for 5 breathes.
- Half-seated Splits
Begin in a low lunge, right foot should be forward. Place hands on the outside of your foot to provide support. Then lower your left knee down to the ground. As you walk hands back, reach hips towards your left heel. Now gently lengthen your right leg. Stay in pose for around 20-30 seconds if you can. Swap legs and repeat the pose.
Other great stretching poses to prepare you for the splits include the Pigeon Pose, Twisted Monkey, Seated Forward Bend and Head-to-Knee Forward Bend.
Time for the splits! You can use a yoga block under your front leg until you feel ready to do it without support. If you don’t quite make it the first time, don’t beat yourself up. Keep practising regularly and try to go a little deeper into it as you feel more confident and able.