04 Jan Deepen Your Splits in 3 Steps
If you are looking for greater hip or hamstring flexibility, or a deeper, more comfortable Hanumanasana (splits), then this one’s for you!
Begin by entering your best version of Splits with squared hips. When stretching deeply, look for a dull, throb by, achy feeling. Make sure you don’t move into any electrical sensations – no sharp, shooting pain (this is a sign you’ve gone too deep – back off).
1. Slightly bend your front knee and isometrically drag your front heel towards your back foot, and back knee towards your front heel. Engage the top of front thigh (quad) and squeeze back buttock (keep your muscle engagement at only about 20%). Hold 10 seconds, then back off of the muscular engagement. Your body will give you some slack. Take up the slack by squeezing your front knee straighter and engaging back buttock while you hold for 3-5 more breaths.
NEUTRALIZE: Stand at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose. In Mountain, press the balls of your feet and outer edges of your feet down. Draw your tailbone down and engage your abdominals. Straighten your elbows and level your hips. Press your feet down and without moving, attempt to them drag them apart. Engage lower buttocks and re-balance your hips. Repeat #1 for second side.
2.Re-enter splits. This time draw front heel outwards and back knee outwards (isometrically) to engage outer hips. Your outer hip muscles are synergists/accessory muscles that assist this posture. Engage your front quad and back glute (keep your muscle engagement at 20%). Hold for 10 seconds. Back off the engagement, wait to feel some slack. Take up the slack and go slightly deeper by sliding front heel forward, and back knee back a bit. Hold 3-5 more breaths.
NEUTRALIZE: Stand at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose. In Mountain, press the balls of your feet and outer edges of your feet down. Draw your tailbone down and engage your abdominals. Straighten your elbows and level your hips. Press your feet down and without moving, attempt to them drag them apart. Engage lower buttocks and re-balance your hips. Repeat #2 for second side.
3. Final splits. Draw front foot and back knee in towards one another. Engage front quad and back glute. Press your front heel into your mat and isometrically outwards and your back knee into the mat and isometrically outwards (or option to lift back knee off of the mat, and balance of the ball of your back foot with the same action). Keep your muscle engagement at 20%. Hold 10 seconds. Release muscular engagement, the take up the slack. Perhaps there’s a little more space to extend front heel farther forward with your thigh engaged and back knee farther back with your buttock engaged.
If you’re looking to deepen your splits noticeably, your yoga prescription is: Practice these steps every 3 days for 8 weeks.
*thanks goes to Raymond Long, MD for this practice, slightly varied
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