One thing I try to convey in my yoga classes and online content is that yoga isn’t just about flexibility. That might be the reason people do yoga, it’s definitely not a requisite. Yoga is balance, stability, strength, mental fortitude and so much more. All of those things can be explored in this standing split tutorial.
In standing split we build strength in the standing leg. We explore balance and stability standing on one leg, especially in the advanced options to lift the hands off the floor. Lifting the back leg requires strength in the glutes, and flexibility in the hips. And then add in the mental toughness of sticking it out. Don’t let anyone tell you yoga is “just stretching”. In this standing split tutorial I’ll discuss:
- How to do the pose
- Modifications using props
- Using a wall
- Tips & tricks
- Suggestions for help the pose
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Standing split tutorial
Standing splits is an inversion. It’s a challenging pose. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from doing inversions then please do not attempt the pose. That said, my favorite way to transition into this pose is from a high lunge, through a warrior 3-ish position, and into standing splits.
Begin in a high lunge position, or warrior 1. Hinge forward reaching the hands to the floor (or blocks). Step the back leg in a little to enable you to place some weight into the upper body. Extend the front leg, while lifting the back leg away from the floor. This will be a modified warrior 3 position. Draw the navel to the spine, tuck in the chin and suck the chest towards the standing shin. All while lifting the raised leg higher.
Standing split modifications
As I said, challenging pose! If it seems impossible, then modifications are to work on Warrior 3, use blocks under the hands to lift the floor up for more support, and simply don’t lift the leg as high.
One more tip is to not look forward to the front of your mat but tuck the chin in a little and suck the navel to spine. Just like you would a crunch. For every action there has to be an opposite reaction. If your torso goes down, the leg ‘might’ be more incline to go UP!
Standing split against a wall
This wouldn’t be a standing split tutorial if I didn’t tell you how to improve the pose. Firstly, work on releasing the muscles of the hips and legs. Perhaps that’s doing a hamstring release with a tennis ball, more quad stretches or working on your half split. I’d recommend my 15-minute half split sequence as a warm-up and prep. But, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention standing split against the wall. Come into downdog with your feet about 12″ from the wall. CAREFULLY, lift one leg up and walk the hands back, sliding the lifted leg up the wall.
Again, use blocks if needed. Standing split against the wall can be a great way to get deeper into the pose and connect the movement of activating the glutes to lift the leg up.
Want more yoga?
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- Do you associate yoga with strength?
- How is your balance?
- Can you do a standing split pose?
The standing split looks a little too advanced for me. I think I would land on my head! I will stick to a few of your other yoga poses until I am ready for this one.
We have a studio here in the UK, I can’t wait for the restrictions to end, so I can get trying out some moves lol x
Great stuff, once again! The modifications are a good way to go, as well! Thanks for this.
Very interesting! I do practice yoga, but feel confused about doing such poses. Your blog has nice instructions with illustrative photos.
Standing split is my weak post: it’s very hard for me. I will definitely try the wall tricks
Another interesting pose to try. I think I’ll try this one using a yoga block!
I also do these before doing my home workout. For some it comes naturally eh? Interesting details though. Good job.
Indya | The Small Adventurer
Yes, one of the reasons I initially struggled with yoga a lot was my big lack of balance. I’ve always been fairly okay in terms of flexibility, but my body is very uneven in terms of size, so it throws my balance off, but the more consistent I was with my yoga, the better my balance got, and the easier I found certain poses to be. My balance was also thrown off because I apparently had very weak legs – which I also found out thanks to yoga – but that improved over time as well. Who knew so many things can contribute to you struggle with a pose?!
I am trying to rationalise in my mind if a standing split is easier than one sitting down. I guess your body weight with a normal split combined with gravity makes it more difficult.