Doing the splits is no easy task for most people. Just like anything else, with consistent practice, patience and the right approach, it can actually prove to be much more simple to achieve than you probably think. I gave myself a month to glide and slide all the way into the splits (meaning knees and pelvis touching the ground at the same time) but to my surprise, I was splitting perfectly within a week simply by following these six steps. I realize I may have had an advantage as I was born freakishly flexible, but I hadn’t practiced or been able to perform the splits in over ten years. I am certain that even the stiffest of the stiff will be able to split beautifully as long as the following steps are remembered and utilized daily.
The key here is to build up your flexibility and open your hips gradually. Listen to your body and go to the very edge of your limit cliff but don’t push it too much beyond that. Pulling a muscle or straining your tendons will only make them tighter. A contracted muscle will not be so willing to slide into the splits for you, and you’ll end up having to convince it (similar to a stubborn child who won’t eat broccoli) for much longer in the end. Instead, coax it kindly and slowly as you visualize yourself in the perfect splits.
Stretch it Out Daily
If you take ten minutes (five for each side) and pull yourself aside each day then you will find that flexibility comes easily. Your body will respond better with a gentle and consist stretch as opposed to a forceful and sporadic approach to the so-called-splits you’re attempting.
There are many ways you can warm yourself up for the splits. You can raise your heart rate and blood flow with the powerful Sun Salutation series. Otherwise, something simple such as running in place or even cleaning the house will also do the trick. Additionally, a nice, hot shower helps to loosen and relax the muscles.
Use Distracted Focus
It’s much easier and more enjoyable to hold poses for longer periods of time when we “distract” the mind. Play a five-minute song (for each side) that you enjoy and let it inspire you to open, melt and relax yourself into the stretch. Giving your mind something else to think about will in turn allow you to focus more on the process; the practice will go by much faster for you. This is a good tool to utilize because longer held split poses means sooner reached flexibility for perfect performance and execution in no time.
Straighten That Torso
When we first try to bring our body into the splits, most of us have the tendency to lean forward as if trying to convince our front leg to possibly do the same. What if I told you that if you did the opposite, your body would find you much more charming and convincing? When you feel you’ve reached your maximum stretch and minimum distance from the ground, straighten your spine and lean your torso backward to witness the magic. You’ll suddenly be a few inches closer to (if not completely on) the ground!
Breathe Through It
Taking slow, deep breaths can be of great assistance. Breathing soothes our system when we experience discomfort and helps to relieve pain. Utilize the breath as a guide and slide further down with each exhale.
These Yoga poses can be challenging at first but they are a great way of practicing your splits:
Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (Standing Splits Pose)
Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog on One Foot)
Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose)
Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel on One Leg)
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose)
Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose)
Splits and Tricks
Whatever your reason may be for seeking the ability to do the splits, remember that it’s a journey that requires patience, persistence and attentive listening to your limits. By perfectly performing poses, we are achieving much more than a simple posture that is “cool to look at.” Although I do admit it may be a neat party trick, it is much more than that. It takes great know-how, dedication, confidence and a bit of bravery as well. The splits, as every other Yoga pose, require your full awareness and comprehension of your body. To become familiar with your body, working through the doubts and distractions of the mind and seeing all of the subtle inner workings – that is to truly know thyself. By dedicating yourself to a certain process and aiming to reach a goal and then arriving there because of your own will, You empower You.