One of my absolute favorite yoga postures is Hanumanasana AKA Monkey Pose AKA The Splits. This deep stretch is great for opening the hips, stretches the hamstrings and the quadriceps. While this is a very bold and freeing pose, it can take time to master. I remember attempting it and only being able to hover my hips above the floor. With practice, patience and lots of perseverance, I can easily meet the floor, now.
The beautiful thing about yoga is the plethora of postures that you can do to help prepare you for more advanced poses like this. If you want to master your splits, grab your yoga mat and keep reading!
Try these 8 yoga poses to help you get into the splits.
Disclaimer:I’m currently in Yoga Teacher Training, but I’m not a certified teacher just yet and these are some of my personal and professional learnings. Please practice these postures at your own discretion.
Lay prone on your yoga mat with your legs extended and hands resting by your sides. Bend your knees in toward your butt and place the soles of your feet together. Let your thighs gently fall open toward the floor until you feel the stretch while keeping your feet together and drawn in toward your pelvis. Rest your hands comfrotably on the floor or on you rbelly or at heart’s center. Take 5 long, slow breaths.
This pose is also very restful and is great for helping you sleep. Check out a relaxing yoga sequence to try before bed here!
2. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Sit tall on your mat with both legs extended. Exhale and stretch your spine nice and long and fold forward bringing your chest toward your knees. Be sure to keep a straight back. Next, clasp your feet or shins with your hands. Take 5 long, slow breaths in this pose.
3. Frog Pose (Adho Muka Mandukasana)
Start in tabletop position, on all fours with your wrists aligned with your elbows and your knees aligned with your hips and your toes resting on the floor. Bring your elbows and forearms to the floor (palms can be flat on the floor or pressed together). Slowly exhale and spread your knees apart. Lower your hips toward the floor while pressing them toward the back wall until you feel the stretch in your inner thighs and hips. Keep your back straight with a neeutral spine. Take 5 long, slow breaths.
4. Half Monkey Pose (Ardha Hanumanasana)
Starting in tabletop, with your palms firmly planted, on an exhale place your left foot forward between your hands. Lower your right knee to the floor. Flex your left foot, coming up to the heel while bringing your toes toward you while continuing to straighten your leg. With hips squared, inhale to lengthen your spine and reach your hips forward as you fold over your left knee on an exhale. Take 5 long, slow breaths in this pose and repeat on the opposite side.
5. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Starting in downward dog, bring your left foot forward, placing it between your hands with your knee stacked right above the ankle. Slowly lower your righ knee toward the floor extending your leg toward the back wall with the top of your foot resting on the mat. Inhale and lift your torso while reaching your hands over your head with palms facing each other. Keep your pack straight and core engaged. Roll your shoulders back and allow your hips to slowly melt down toward the floor. Bring palms together and lower hand to your heart’s center. Take 5 long, slow breaths in this pose and repeat on the opposite side.
6. Kneeling Quad Stretch
Starting in a low lunge on theleft side of your body, exhale and place your palms flat on the floor. Place your left palm next to the inside of your left foot. Press the floor away from you and bend your right leg at the knee. Grab the inside arch of your right foot with yourrighthand. With a straight back, core engaged and your chest lifted, rotate your torso to the left. Gently draw your right foot in towards your glutes. Take 5 long, slow breaths in this pose and repeat on the opposite side.
7. One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Starting in tabletop, bring your left knee forward between your hands and lower your hips to the floor keeping your knee bent. Bring your left foot toward your right hip, with the outside of the left shin resting on the floor. Slide your right leg toward the back of the mat and gently lower your leg to the floor with knees and toes facing down.
If it’s comfortable slowly slide your right leg forward until it’s parallel to the front edge of your mat. Place your fingertips or hands on the floor right underneath your shoulders, roll your shoulders back, and inhale. Exhale as you focus on hugging your thighs toward your centerline while gently pressing into your hips. Take 5 long, slow breaths in this pose and repeat on the opposite side.
8. Wall Straddle Split
Start by sitting facing a wall. Next, open your right leg to the right and your left leg to the left opening your hips wide to position yourself into a straddle split. Press your chest toward the wall and shift your body as needed, until you are comfortably resting your hips and chest against the wall. Lift your hands above your head and press your palms against the wall. Take 5 long, slow breaths in this pose.
If you’d like to take things a bit further, try doing the splits.
Starting in downward facing dog, step your right foot between both hands. Slowly lower left knee down to the mat. Let your fingertips lightly rest on the floor. Gently lower your left leg towards the mat with the knee facing down and stretch your leg back toward the wall behind you. Wiggle and adjust as you work toward lowering your butt to the floor. Listen to your body, if you can’t get your hips down to the floor, don’t force it. Stop if you feel pain or discomfort. Continue to stretch your right foot toward the wall in front of you and flex or curl your toes. Keep your back straight and core engaged. Plant your palms to the floor, rest your hands on your legs or bring your palms together at heart’s center. Take 5 long, slow breaths in this pose and repeat on the opposite side.
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