Successfully complete the lateral splits | 10 exercises and tips

Succeeding in the lateral splits is a very good flexibility objective. Rightly or wrongly, this is the benchmark yoga posture for gauging flexibility. There are several exercises for learning to do the splits hanumanasana in Sanskrit), but all of them require patience and persistence. Do not be disappointed,

it is possible to succeed in doing the splits “quickly” if you consider that this term represents several weeks. The “time” factor is unique to everyone because we are not naturally flexible. In any case, doing the splits when you’re sleep is possible. However,

this is acquired with regular, effective practice and by listening to your body. Succeeding in the lateral splits is a very good flexibility objective. Rightly or wrongly, this is the benchmark yoga posture for gauging flexibility. There are several exercises for learning to do the splits hanumanasana in Sanskrit), but all of them require patience and persistence. Do not be disappointed, it is possible to succeed in doing the splits “quickly” if you consider that this term represents several weeks. The “time” factor is unique to everyone because we are not naturally flexible. In any case, doing the splits when you’re sleep is possible. However, this is acquired with regular, effective practice and by listening to your body.

The large lateral gap: why and for whom

Why do the splits ? The reasons can be various, but let’s be honest, the main ones are ego and fun. As I said in the introduction, a person’s flexibility is judged by their ability, or not, to do the splits. It’s still important to note that not everyone is destined to have a big gap , as it can be a lot of work for some people. The question to ask yourself is: do you spend 2 hours a day working your splits?is it necessary ? Not necessarily. Doing the splits when you’re not flexible isn’t always fun. So if you can’t do it, or if you just don’t really want to achieve this posture, know that you don’t have to! This is not why you will not be a yogi, a gymnast, etc. The split has its benefits, however . Indeed, it:

  • works the opening of the hips : this work is necessary to have a good balance and a good posture.
  • improves the flexibility of the legs : being flexible of the legs is important on a daily basis, because it allows to have good mobility as well as to limit the risk of injury during physical effort (sports or daily).
  • stimulates the organs of the abdomen, the immune system.
  • restores energy.

The recurring questions on Google : 

  • The big gap for a man, is it possible?
  • Can you do the splits when you are a beginner?
  • Is the big gap possible for everyone?
  • Can we do the splits when we are round?

The answer to all of these questions is yes. However, the speed at which the posture can be achieved is unique to everyone. Remember that some people are naturally more flexible than others. It doesn’t depend on weight, height, or even gender. It depends on genetics, the condition of the hips, but also how we have been working our body for years. People who have practiced dance throughout their childhood are often more flexible than others (this is not always the case). A person who played football for 10 years will not have worked so hard on his mobility. She will probably have worked more on explosiveness than on stretching her legs . 

Note : although the focus today is on performing the lateral splits, this information is also applicable to performing the facial splits.

The muscles to work for a successful lateral split

If you are a beginner yogi and you are doing the splits for the first time , you will quickly realize that all the legs are used. You may not even be able to define which muscles are stretched so much that the feeling of stretching runs through both of your legs .

Stretching in the leg extended forward is different from that in the leg extended back. Regarding the front leg, we feel the stretch more at the back of the thigh, the hamstrings and calves. In contrast, the back leg pulls more on the quadriceps (the muscles in the front of the thigh). In all cases, this posture requires flexibility in the pelvis and psoas, for both sides. This is why the majority of regular wide gap stretches involve the hip joint and adductor lengthening.

Note : you are probably more flexible on one side than the other. Your sensations will therefore be different depending on the leg you extend forward.

10 exercises to achieve the lateral splits

1. The standing forceps and the sitting forceps – Pashimottanasana

This asana (yoga pose) is very effective in stretching the back of the thighs. The pincer pose can be practiced standing or sitting. In all cases, the goal is to straighten the legs. However, this position may not be achievable for you. You can therefore bend your legs and come and lay your stomach on your thighs. Stretch your legs as much as you can, but when they start to shake, you’re at your peak. So you can relax a bit.

Yoga Pose Standing Paschimottanasana

2. The half-gap – Ardha Hanumanasana

What better way to learn how to do the splits than starting with the half gap? This posture allows you to stretch one leg after the other. The work is not particularly oriented on the opening of the pelvis, but on the muscles of the back of the thighs and calves. To get a good stretch, remember to keep your hips aligned.

Half gap posture

3. The butterfly or the cobbler: Baddha Konasana

The butterfly posture is very useful for working on the flexibility of the adductors and quadriceps. While performing this asana, your intention should be focused on your knees, which should come as close as possible to the ground. If you are already flexible, bring your feet as close as possible to your perineum (provided your back remains straight).

Butterfly or shoemaker pose

4. The frog – Mandukasana

Like the previous asana, the frog pose stretches the adductors. From a crawl posture, you just need to slide your knees to the side to drop your weight on the pelvis. So you can stretch the inner thighs.

Mandukasana frog pose

5. The Lizard – Utthan Pristhasana

The lizard posture is ideal for opening the pelvis, for stretching the buttocks as well as the sides of the thighs. When you are in position, remember not to shift your hips. Indeed, this error is frequent and it will distort your stretch. The difficulty of the splits is to get to touch the ground without shifting the hips. Better to take more time to get to the final split position and learn in the best possible way. Indeed, many of us have a big gap with shifted hips.

Lizard pose
Utthan Pristhasana Lizard Pose

6. The pigeon – Kapotâsana

Here is a new posture to stretch the psoas, the glutes and open the pelvis. The more the leg folded forward is parallel to the end of your mat, the more intense the stretch will be. Again, think about aligning your hips. Your weight should be distributed in the center and your buttocks should not tilt to one side or the other. If this is difficult for you, place a yoga block under the buttock of the bent leg.

Kapotasana pigeon pose

7. The Mermaid – Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana

When you are in the posture of the pigeon, you can continue your sequence with the posture of the mermaid. This twist pose is full of benefits and will come in handy for the splits. Bending your leg to catch your foot will intensely stretch your quadriceps. The more you bring your foot closer to your bust, the more the stretch is important (however listen to your body and respect its limits).

Mermaid pose

8. The pyramid – Parsvottanasana

The pyramid, Parvottanasana is a very good movement to stretch all the muscles of the back of the leg: from the shins to the thighs, if not to the buttocks. You can choose the spacing of the legs you want, as long as your heels stay on the ground and you are not in the hyper-extension of the back leg.

Parsvottanasana pyramid pose

9. Wide-angle sitting – Upavistha Konasana

This posture is very effective for working the adductors. It’s particularly useful for doing the facial splits, but that’s not why it doesn’t have room on this list… If you want to get your body down, you can. Just remember not to rotate your toes inward, and keep your back straight.

Upavistha Konasan Wide Angle Posture
Upavistha Konasan Wide Angle Posture

10. Low lunge – Anjaneyasana

The low lunge is a good posture that prepares for the splits. The position of the pelvis and the alignment of the legs is really similar. To take the pose further, simply push your pelvis forward, trying to keep the knee above the heel. As a bonus, you can work on the flexibility of the back by gently arching the back.

Anjaneyasana low lunge pose

For more flexibility exercises, details on the postures seen previously, and to find more stretching to do the splits:

Technique for performing the lateral split

First of all, I advise you not to do the splits without warming up. As much as possible, avoid doing the cold splits , because the posture of the king of the monkeys (yogic splits) is a posture that can be traumatic for the body. So you have to go slowly, to the rhythm of breathing and with the muscles already warmed up and stretched beforehand.

There are several variations of Hanumanasana ( splits , split in English or monkey king): splits against the wall, splits on the floor, splits in suspension, “oversplit”, etc. We will focus here on performing the lateral split on the floor .

Regarding the material needed, I do not particularly use elastic or webbing to do the lateral split . They can be useful for catching both feet in the preparation for the splits, but not afterwards (in my opinion). In contrast, yoga blocks can help you descend gently into your splits.

After having warmed up your whole body thanks to the flexibility exercises seen previously, you will be able to start to descend in the split.

  1. Get on your knees and move your leg back, which will be stretched out at the back. Keep the toes hooked into the ground to maintain proper leg and hip alignment. You can use the bricks on the side to keep your balance, stay straight, and especially to fill the lack of flexibility.
  1. Once you are at your maximum flexibility with your back leg, gradually straighten your front leg.
  2. When possible, it is good to distribute the weight of the body in the middle.

Facial split or lateral split ? If you are now wondering which large gap is the easiest, know that it depends on the abilities of each person. However, it is often said that the lateral split is the simplest. You can therefore now do the lateral splits to build muscle and to loosen up. I don’t promise you that you can do the splits in a month , because it will depend on the time spent in your practice. I hope you will have a lot of fun learning the yogic splits. You do not have to practice the movements that we have seen every day. Some people even recommend that you only practice every other day. For my part, I suggest you do it feeling. You will have to learn on your own to tell the difference between a stretch, a stiffness, and an overstretch. So start slowly to familiarize yourself with your body and its limits. Do not hesitate to share in comment your feedback on experience, your advice and even your evolution. In the meantime, I wish you a good practice.

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