Increase flexibility in the thighs and hips with Standing Split Pose. Also known as Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana, this posture can be practiced by beginners by walking into the asana through Downward-Facing Dog

If you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, you could also try entering Standing Split Pose from Warrior III. Through an inversion, Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana will increase blood flow to the crown chakra while stimulating the sacral chakra in the pelvis.

Benefits of Standing Split

Standing Split Pose is best for increasing flexibility in the hip flexors, hamstrings, inner thighs, and calves. You can experiment with flexing and pointing the foot of the lifted leg to work the calf and shin simultaneously. 

As your splits widen, your balance will increase, especially when you are able to bring the hands onto your grounded leg. Start slowly and focus on maintaining the correct posture before adding the balancing element to your pose. 

Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana will also help you reflect on the weight distribution of the body and how to use the different body parts as leverage. For example, as the elevated leg comes higher, to keep your ideal posture, the head will come lower. This concept will benefit you later on in your practice when you take to more advanced poses like Crow Pose and Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya I and II.

Chakras involved in Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana

Open the Svadhisthana, located within the pelvis with representation in the groin, as you take to Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana. This spot simply does not get enough love throughout the day and is often overlooked in exercise. When you form a splitting motion with your legs, you are stimulating the sacral chakra and igniting the energy found here. 

The Svadhisthana is responsible for your sexual power, but not only that; your creativity and emotions reside here as well. When your sacral chakra is blocked, you could be dealing with creative block, misunderstood your emotions, or sexual stagnation.

How to practise Standing Split

  1. Before finding your Standing Split Pose, come to a table-top position on top of your yoga mat. Make sure the hands are drawing a line directly to the shoulders through the arms, and likewise from the knees and through the legs to the hips.
  2. Press your palms into the mat, finding stability in the L-shape the thumb and pointer finger make. Inhale to prepare yourself for Downward-Facing Dog, which will be used to find your Standing Split.
  3. Exhale the breath as you lift the buttocks up and back into Down Dog. Allow a stretch in the back, bending your knees if you find that most comfortable for you. Dangle the head between the arms and feel free to loosen the neck by giving the head a little shake.
  4. It is now time to enter your Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana. To do so, plant the left foot on the ground so even the heel comes in contact with your mat (it's okay to bend the leg). Inhale the right leg upwards, keeping it straight. Go as far as you can until you begin feeling a stretching sensation in the inner thighs and groin.
  5. Take a moment here in One-Legged Down Dog. See if you can move the right leg up further. Push into your hands and experiment with straightening the left leg a little more if that is available to you.
  6. From here, begin to walk the hands closer to the floor space where your head hovers above. Avoid losing your balance by squeezing the core and glutes.
  7. Reflect on how stable you feel. It is your choice if you wish to bring your hands onto the left calf muscle, or keep the hands rooted to the ground. You may experiment with lifting one hand from the floor while keeping the other placed. Experiment to see how lifting one hand changes your weight distribution in the body.
  8. Breathe into the Standing Split. With each breath, see if you can part the legs a little more.
  9. Once you are ready, exhale to lower the right leg in a controlled motion. Find your space back to Downward-Facing Dog, and take to Child's Pose for relaxation by letting the knees come to the floor and sending the sit bones back onto your folded legs or the yoga mat.

Tips for Beginners

  1. Don't be afraid to get those props! If you are new to your yoga studio, you may be feeling a little shy about gathering props around you, but that's what they're there for. 

You may see more props being used during Yin or Restorative style yoga classes, but in no way does that mean you can't use them for Vinyasa or Ashtanga. As long as there are props leftover for others, take all the props you need.

  1. Keep in mind that your head works as a way to balance your lifted leg. Imagine keeping the back straight to gain that momentum in lifting the leg as you dip the head downwards. When you start bending and folding, keeping the leg lifted may become more challenging and lead to poor posture.

Optional Props to help you practice Standing Split

  1. Mix up your Standing Split with a yoga strap. If you need a little guidance, you can gain better control over your lifting leg by wrapping the strap around the middle part of the foot, between the toes and heel. Push into the strap while pulling from your hands to keep the strap tight.
  2. Place a yoga block under each hand to add some height to your split. There is no pressure to bring the balancing element to your Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana just yet, so relying on those yoga blocks will help prevent crunching into the posture, which could make the asana more difficult to maintain.

When to Avoid the practise of Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana

Standing Split Pose may require you to put some pressure on the wrists if you are entering from Downward-Facing Dog or a similar posture. Avoid entering Standing Split Pose from this position if you have a history of wrist injury or weak wrists.

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