Do you want to learn how to do the standing splits? This challenging yoga pose is a great way to improve your flexibility and open your hips. In this post, you’ll learn more about the pose and step-by-step instructions that will get you started today.
Benefits of standing splits
There are a few benefits to doing this pose, including:
opening the hips
lengthening the hamstrings
increasing the blood flow to the brain
strengthening the legs
calming the nervous system
Contraindications of standing splits
You should use caution or even avoid this pose if you have:
hip and knee injuries
low back problems
high blood pressure
low blood pressure
How to do standing splits
Stand on your mat with your feet together and your legs straight.
Bend forward putting both hands on the ground with the palms flat on the floor.
Push your weight into your right leg, raising your left leg behind you.
The key to getting a good standing split is to engage your right glute, lifting your right sitting bones to power your left leg up.
Lift with your left leg as high as you can, pointing your left toe toward the ceiling.
Push weight into your arms and drop your head down so your forehead is toward the shin.
Stay here for five breaths and slowly release it. For more details about the pose watch this video lesson from Kino.
If you’re looking to improve your flexibility, Paschimottanasana is a great pose to try. This seated forward fold can help elongate the spine and release tension in the back and neck. In addition, Paschimottanasana has many health benefits that you can enjoy! In this tutorial, we will show you how to do Paschimottanasana safely and effectively. We’ll also provide some tips on how to get the most out of this pose.
There are many benefits of Paschimottanasana, some of which include:
Stretching the back and shoulders
Stretching the hamstrings
Lengthening the spine
Improving circulation in the abdominal organs
Stimulating the nervous system
Reducing stress and anxiety
Stimulates the internal organs
Contraindications for Paschimottanasana
Paschimottanasana is generally a safe pose for most people. However, there are a few contraindications to be aware of:
If you have a hernia, Paschimottanasana may aggravate it.
If you have a slipped disc it’s best to avoid this pose.
If you have high blood pressure, Paschimottanasana may not be the best pose for you.
If you are pregnant, Paschimottanasana may not be the best pose for you.
If you have any other health concerns, please consult your doctor before doing Paschimottanasana or any other yoga poses.
How to do Paschimottanasana or seated forward bend
Now that we know some of the benefits and contraindications for Paschimottanasana, let’s look at how to do the pose.
Paschimottanasana is a seated yoga posture so you will need to sit on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you. Your feet are flexed. Think of pushing your heels away from your sitting bones.
Draw your belly in and imagine emptying the inner space of the pelvis.
Lengthen through the spine and take a deep breath in. On an exhale, begin to fold forward from the hip joints, keeping the spine long. Don’t round your back to bend forward.
You can place your hands on your knees, ankles, or feet. If you can’t reach your feet, place a strap around the soles of your feet and hold onto the strap.
Keep the spine long as you fold forward, letting the head hang heavy. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for five breaths. To release the pose, slowly roll up to seated on an inhale.
Tips for Paschimottanasana
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of Paschimottanasana:
Keep the spine long as you fold forward. This will help to lengthen the spine and release tension in the back and neck.
Engage your quadriceps to help release your hamstrings.
Don’t hyperextend your knees.
Breathe deeply into the posture. This will help to relax the body and mind.
Paschimottanasana is a great pose for improving flexibility and releasing tension. With some practice, you’ll be able to get deeper into the pose and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer! Watch the video with Kino to find out more about the pose.
Parighasana or the gate pose is in the Ashtanga yoga second series. This pose is a very important integration posture that allows you to really work on your side body stretch. Side body stretches help integrate the muscles of your back and align your pelvis.
If you have misalignment of your sacrum or iliac crest or if you feel like your pelvis is a little bit out of whack, side body stretches are really wonderful to help get those areas back into alignment.
The shoulder position in this pose allows you to work on the deep core strength of the body. The pose gives you an awareness that routes down into the center of your pelvis.
Symbolically the gate represents the opening of your spiritual eyes. This pose helps you turn your attention inward and focus on your inner journey that is yoga.
Benefits of parighasana or gate pose :
When done correctly, parighasana can be a very beneficial pose for your body. It is important to focus on alignment and make sure you are doing the pose correctly in order to reap all of its benefits. Here are a few benefits of doing this pose.
Stretches the muscles of your back and aligns your pelvis
Helps integrate the muscles of your back
Allows you to work on the deep core strength of the body
Gives you an awareness that routes down into the center of your pelvis
Opens up the hips and groin area
Stretches calves and hamstrings
Stimulates abdominal organs
Contraindications for parighasana or gate pose
If you have any injuries or conditions in your shoulders, arms, groin, or hamstrings, parighasana may not be the best pose for you. The same goes for if you’re pregnant. If you have neck pain, it’s best to keep your head in line with your spine and look straight ahead rather than turning it to the side.
To do parighasana or the gate pose:
Sit on your mat with your right leg extended.
Bend your left knee. Drop your left knee to the floor so your calf muscle is out to the side and your foot is pointing behind you. You’re using a little bit of internal rotation of your hip here. You want your thigh bones to make it 90-degree angle.
Activate the inner thigh of your right leg to form the foundation of the posture.
Gently roll the pelvis slightly forward.
Keep the left hip spiraling in.
Activate your thighs squeezing the thigh bones into their sockets.
Suck your belly in.
Drop your pubic bone back and allow your sitting bones to come slightly off the ground.
Walk both of your hands forward, so you’re almost doing a forward fold between both of your legs.
Exhale as you fold over to your right side, so your right shoulder is on the ground and your left shoulder is up. Your torso is on the inner edge of your right thigh with your head and shoulder down.
Push your left hip down.
Reach your hands up and grab your right foot.
Pull your sternum forward and away from the pubic bone.
Keep your belly deeply in and your mind calm.
Stay here for five breaths and then slowly come out of the pose by releasing your foot, dropping forward and rising all the way up.
Backbending is an important part of your practice because it gets the energy flowing through your spine. Backbends help increase spinal flexibility and can even lift your mood.
Simple Bridge pose is a good introductory pose to help you incorporate backbends into your practice. It is beneficial for your spine and hips.
Benefits of Simple Bridge Pose
When you perform bridge pose, you are working to strengthen your hips, glutes, and hamstrings. This is a great pose to help improve flexibility in your spine and can help relieve back pain. Bridge pose also helps to open up the chest and shoulders.
-It can help relieve pain in the neck and upper back.
-It stretches hip flexors.
-It can help improve circulation.
-It is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety.
Contraindications for Simple Bridge Pose
If you are suffering from high blood pressure, bridge pose is not recommended. If you are pregnant, avoid this pose or speak with your doctor before attempting it.
How to Perform Simple Bridge Pose
Step One: Lie flat on your back with your feet hip-width apart and parallel to each other. Your knees are bent and the soles of your feet are flat on the floor.
Step Two: Move your feet so they are as close to your buttocks as you can comfortably get them. Your arms are at your sides with your palms down. Try to get your fingertips to touch your heels.
Step Three: Inhale and press into your feet to lift your hips off the ground. Send your hips up and forward. Do not squeeze your glutes.
Step Four: Roll your shoulders under and let your spine lift. If you are comfortable here you can roll your shoulders under even more and grab your ankles.
Step Five: Hold for five breaths, then release and lower your hips to the ground.
So, if you are looking for a simple yoga pose that offers many benefits, give simple bridge pose a try! You won’t be disappointed. Watch this video with Kino for more details about how to do simple bridge pose.
Parsvottanasana or Pyramid Pose is the final standing pose for the Ashtanga Primary Series. The standing asanas are sometimes called the foundational poses because they create the foundation for your practice. Sometimes it’s easier to work on forward bends and flexibility poses from a standing position because gravity is working with you.
The main foundation of this posture is a pretty intense forward bend. There’s a little bit of an internal rotation into the hip joint that you are bending into. Because of that, you need to understand the dynamics of your hip joints in the pose.
Lastly, the shoulder position is important. If you’re newer to the practice you might want to do this pose your hands on your hips or the floor for balance. If you are more experienced with the pose you can use the shoulder position we’ll look at here.
If you’re uncomfortable holding your hands in prayer position behind your back you can grab opposite elbows or wrist or clench your fist and press the fists together behind your back.
Now let’s begin the pose. From Samasthiti, internally rotate your shoulders to get into the correct hand position. That can be either holding opposite elbows, holding opposite wrists, fists together, or in prayer position behind your back. When you internally rotate your shoulders be sure to pay attention to your collarbones, keeping them broad.
Step your right foot back. Your feet should be about 2 ½ to 3 Pete feet apart. This will change depending on how tall you are.
Your front foot is pointing forward and your back foot is at 45-degree angle. Line your heels up with each other or line your heel up to your arch. Draw all the muscles of the low blow belly in.
Square your hips. Inhale and exhale and pivot through the hip joints. Relax your back muscles and let your torso drape over your front leg. Stay here breathing deeply into the pose for five breaths. Slowly come out of the pose and repeat on the other side.
Marichasana is named after the great sage of India’s past, Marichi I. There are many versions of this pose, but today we’ll look at Marichasana A.
The first component of Marichasana A is a forward bend. The second component of the pose is a deep hip flexion. The third component is an internal rotation of the shoulder joints. Now let’s look at how to combine all of these components to do the pose.
Sit on your mat with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Bend your right knee up into your chest with the sole of your foot on the ground to get a good deep hip flexion. There should be about one hand’s width distance between your right foot and your left thigh.
Engage your left leg and press down into the left heel. Move your left sitting bones slightly back.
Align your right knee with your right armpit.
Put your left hand on the ground next to you. Suck your belly in and slide your torso away from your right thigh, allowing your right sitting bones to come up off the ground.
Bring your right shoulder to the inside of your right knee.
Bring your right hand forward so your shoulder slides down to the inside of her right shin.
Pull your belly in. Keep yourself oriented toward the centerline and reach your right arm out to the side interiorly rotating your shoulder.
Wrap your shoulder around so you wrap your armpit around your shin. Wrap your arm around behind your leg. Now reach around with your left arm around your back and catch your hands behind your back. Clasp your hands together.
Exhale and pivot the pubic bone back to fold forward.
Align your sternum with your left knee. Allow your right hip to come up the ground. If possible go all the way down making contact with your chin to your shin.
Hold for five breaths.
This pose can be intense for the lower back and shoulders, so be mindful of how you feel in the pose.
If you can’t clasp your hands use a yoga strap instead.
Be sure to activate your leg and keep your knee in.
This very important seated posture combines a lot of different elements into one pose. Remember to never push yourself too hard to soon.
Watch this video with Kino to see the pose in more detail.
Setu Bandhasana can seem a little scary at first. The name of the pose means bridge and it prepares you for getting into deeper back bending poses. Think of it as a stable bridge
It’s important that you warm up before attempting Setu Bandhasna. That’s why it is situated toward the end of the Ashtanga Primary Series.
Don’t be afraid of what’s happening in the neck in this pose. You get the deep bend in the cervical spine by activating your neck muscles, but if you have herniated discs in your neck or problems with your neck you’ll want to skip this posture.
To prepare for this pose lay on your back. Bring the heels together and spread the toes apart so they’re pointing opposite sides. Your heels are touching. Your heels should be quite far away from the pelvis. Further away is better than closer. Now let your knees flop out to the side. Then activate your inner thighs a little to raise your knees up.
Put your hands onto the ground so your hands are at your hips and push your elbows into the ground. Put your head back so the crown of your head is on the floor.
Your upper back is lifted up off of the floor.
Your hands are on your thighs. You’re not dumping weight into your head. You’re pressing into your elbows activating and your thighs.
This is the pose you can use to prepare. This is not the full expression of the pose yet, but If this is a lot for you just stay here for five breaths. Wait until you’ve built more strength before you try to get into the full posture.
To get into the full expression of the pose, start by laying on your mat with your heels together and your feet pressing out pointing out. The crown of your head is on the ground.
Now you can get up in one of two ways. Bring your hands up over your head and use them like training wheels to help you lift your body off the ground. If you lift up in this way be careful not to push too much with the shoulders because then you’ll have problems transitioning into the more complete expression of the pose.
Another way to get into the pose is to start from where we were before with your head pressed into the ground and your hips still on the ground. Reach both hands out to the sides. Now activate the back muscles and your leg muscles. Inhale and lift up so the crown of your head is on the ground.
For the traditional entry into Setu Bandhasana, you lay on your mat with your heels touching and toes point away from each other. Your hands are crossed over your shoulders. Then you activate the back muscles and the leg muscles and lift your hips so you can roll up onto the top of your head lifting your body.
Watch the following video where Kino gives you a more detailed description of how to get into Setu Bandhasana.
Today we’ll look at one of the seated postures in the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series, Triang Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana. This posture is different than the other postures you’ve done up until this point in the Primary Series because it is the first obvious internal rotation of the hip.
This energetic pose loosens up your hips and hamstrings while releasing the tension in your back muscles. Like other forward folds in the series, Triang Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottanasana calms the nervous system while toning the internal organs. It is a good posture to do when you need to relieve stress.
We’ll look at the simplest way to get into this posture. This is a good way to approach the pose if you have knee sensitivity.
Start by sitting on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you.
Bend your right leg so the sole of your right foot is on the floor and your thigh is drawn into your chest.
Now rock onto the left side of your sit bones.
Internally rotate your hip joint and bring your foot back so your foot is pointed straight behind you.
Your knees are next to each other with your right knee pointed straight out in front of you.
As you get into the position pay close attention to how your knee feels. If you need to you can sit on a block to help you get into the position more comfortably and decrease any pressure on the knee.
Send energy down into your sit bones to create a firm foundation. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed between the left and right hip. Find balance in the centerline of your body. It is important to keep centered.
Inhale and lengthen, drawing the spine up out of the pelvis and lifting the chest.
Exhale hinge forward from the pelvis, folding over the left leg. Catch your foot, ankle, shin or wherever you can reach. Keep your shoulder blades on your back and your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears.
Inhale and lengthen through the back even more. Exhale and fold, relaxing your back and bringing your forehead toward your shin. Stay here for five breaths and repeat on the other side.
This pose stimulates the body and can sometimes help with headaches. If you find yourself feeling dizzy or woozy it can bring you back into balance.
Start standing with your legs three to four feet apart depending on your height. Turn your right foot out to the front of the mat.
Bend your right leg so your knee is stacked over your ankle.
Put your right forearm on your right thigh just above the knee.
Open through the chest and circle your left arm up so your arm is over your head. So, you’re trying to make a diagonal line with your body.
Ground into the left heel. You can choose to stay here. But if you want to take it deeper, take your right hand to the outside of your right foot. Bring your fingertips to the ground. Root into the heel of your foot.
If you can, flatten your hand completely onto the ground. Activate your pelvic floor. Strengthen your legs. Hold for a few breaths. Then slowly come up out of the pose and repeat on the opposite side.
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It doesn't matter if you succeed at the pose, but it does matter that you try. The effort of trying will teach you valuable lessons that can transform every aspect of your life.