Standing Split - Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana

How to Do a Standing Split
Standing Split. Ann Pizer

Type of pose: Standing, balancing

Benefits: Strengthens the legs, stretches the hamstrings, improves balance and core strength.

The most common problem in standing split stems from a lack of awareness of the difference between keeping your hips squared to the floor and allowing them to move into a open, stacked position. For people who have done gymnastics, the open position may feel more natural. It also may give the illusion that you are doing the pose "better" because it allows the lifted leg to come a lot higher.

But it's not all about the height of your leg. In this pose, prioritize the orientation of the hips toward the floor and lift your leg as much as possible from there. A standing split with hips open can be considered a variation on this pose. 

If you're confused about the difference between hips squared and hips open, it's covered at greater length in this article about down dog split. Try to get a feel for it in that pose and then bring what you've learned over to standing split.

Instructions:

1. Begin in a low lunge with the right forward and your hands on the floor. 

2. Slide your hands forward six to twelve inches and shift your weight into your right leg as you lift the left foot off the floor. It's ok to stay up on your fingertips the whole time. Your hands are there for balance, not really to bear your weight. Let your head drop and your gaze come to your right shin.

3. Lift your left leg as high as you can while still keeping the hips squared to the floor.

Flex your left foot strongly and keep your toes pointing toward the floor or spread actively. 

4. Walk your hands back toward your right foot to deepen the stretch and challenge your balance. Eventually your forehead may come all the way to your shin.

5. Step back to a low lunge. Switch the position of your legs so that the left foot is forward to do the same pose on the other side.

 

Beginners' Tips:

1. Make sure to warm up your hamstrings before attempting this pose.

2. Use blocks under your hands if they don't comfortably reach the floor when your standing leg is straight.

3. Bend the standing leg slightly. This will allow you to lift the other leg a little higher. Then restraighten the standing leg while maintaining the height you gained in the lifted leg.

Advanced Tips:

1. Move your right hand to your right ankle. If you can keep your balance here, bring your left hand to join the right one on your right ankle. Keeping your balance here in addition to keeping the left leg high kicks up the difficulty of this pose considerably. 

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