For many people, just hearing the word “splits” is intimidating. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to work towards them, easing in slowly and carefully, rather than jumping right into an attempt. The preparation for splits is something which is accessible to all levels of yoga students, whether you want to work towards the full pose or not.
1. Supported Bridge – Lay down on your back, bending your knees and placing the soles of the feet on the mat at about hip distance. Lift your hips up and ease a block underneath the tailbone, at whatever level feels comfortable, and come down to rest on it. Rest your hands on your stomach, let the knees fall gently towards one another. From here extend one leg out long and draw the opposite knee into the chest. While hugging the knee in keep the upper body neutral, so that you aren’t yanking the leg in, but rather supporting it gently and letting gravity do the work. Switch to the other side.
2. Supine Leg Stretch – Removing the block, come down flat on the back. Grab your strap and loop it under the ball of the right foot, and extend the right leg up. Your left leg can reach long on the mat, or the knee can be bent with the sole of the foot on the mat. Flex the right foot, pressing the heel towards the sky, to get this stretch into the calf, ankle and achilles tendon. Keep a slight bend in the knee as you try to draw the leg towards the chest. Keep your breath slow and steady. Ease off if you are experiencing any difficulty in breathing. Take this into a half happy baby, by grabbing the inside of the right foot, and working the knee down to the right side of the body. As you switch sides, know that it is normal and totally okay to not be even on both sides. Just adapt the pose as you go.
3. Seated Forward Fold – Come to seated. With your right leg extended long, bring your left foot to the inside of your right thigh. Hinge forward over the extended leg. Keep your hips and shoulders squared to the front of the mat. As this is a yin yoga practice, come only to where is comfortable and allow gravity and time to work your pose deeper. This stretch is a great way to open the whole back body. Take your time to slowly ease out, before switching the legs around.
For more inspiration and weekly practices please do subscribe to my YouTube channel, Yoga with Kassandra!