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Standing Split

Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana


Step by Step

Perform Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose), right leg forward. Inhale and cartwheel your left arm up and over your head, creating a nice opening in the left ribs.

With an exhale, twist your torso to the right, pivoting on the ball of the left foot to lift the heel off the floor. Then lean forward, lay your front torso onto the right thigh, and set your hands on the floor on either side of the right foot (if your hands don't rest comfortably on the floor, support each one on a block).

Walk your hands slightly ahead of, and shift your weight onto, the right foot. Then, inhale and slowly straighten your right leg, simultaneously lifting the left leg parallel to the floor.

The proper balance of external and internal rotation in each leg is important, especially for the standing leg. Your left leg and hip will tend to externally rotate slightly, lifting the hip away from the floor and angling the pelvis to the right. Try to keep the front pelvis parallel to the floor by internally rotating the left thigh.

Pay close attention to the standing leg, especially the angle of the knee. The knee will tend to rotate inwardly: Be sure to rotate the thigh outwardly and turn the knee so the kneecap faces straight ahead.

Feel how the downward energy of the standing leg creates an upward movement in the raised leg. Don't focus on how high your raised leg goes; instead, work toward directing equal energy into both legs. You can hold the raised leg more or less parallel to the floor, or try to raise it slightly higher; ideally your torso should descend as the leg ascends. If you're flexible you can grasp the back of the standing-leg ankle with the opposite-side hand.

Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then, lower the raised leg with an exhale and repeat on the other side for the same length of time.

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Reader Comments


I am bow-legged, so even while standing with my feet together, my knees point inward and no other part of my inner legs touch each other. This seems to make both Standing Split and Warrior III very difficult (it doesn't help that I also have extremely tight hamstrings) Any suggestions on how to overcome this?

What are the counter poses for standing split


Use the wall, the same pose on a bolster -- make sure the back knee is towards the floor and try to avoid sliding the back leg side of pelvis back. More pigeon pose, lunge. Lift up into the diaphragm, expand the breath and wrap the bottom ribs on the exhale to help lengthen the spine.

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