Practice These 9 Yoga Poses to Help You Get Into Full Splits

Christina D’Arrigo
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Hanumanasana, a.k.a. Monkey Pose or “The Splits,” is a challenging yoga pose. It requires flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, glutes, and quads, but this does not mean that this pose is out of reach! These 9 stretches for splits will prepare your body for Full Splits Pose.

Our hamstrings are commonly tight because we often sit down for the majority of the day. This can cause low back pain and tight hamstrings, and your hamstring flexibility plays a huge factor in practicing Full Splits Pose.

Note that for most of our stretches for splits, you are welcome to use yoga blocks or a yoga strap to make the postures less intense. This will help you to slowly gain flexibility in the areas we’re stretching!
 

Pro Tip Before We Start

Be sure that you ease yourself into each of these poses, as they deeply stretch commonly tight areas of the body. Trying to force your body into these poses before you are fully ready can cause injury.
 
If you are feeling pain in your joints, or where the muscle attaches to the bone (i.e. knees, hips, sits bones, etc.), then back off the pose a bit or come out of it completely until the pain is alleviated.
 

Practice These 9 Stretches For Splits Pose to Help You Get Into Full Splits

The following yoga poses focus on stretching and gaining flexibility in the hamstrings, glutes, hips, and quads. Practice these regularly to one day practice Full Splits Pose.
 

1. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

This pose gently increases flexibility in the hamstrings. An easy way to modify and help you gain length safely is to sit on a folded blanket to elevate your hips.
 
seated-fold
 
How to Practice Paschimottanasana

  • Sit with both legs extended in front of you and your feet flexed
  • Inhale, and lengthen your spine
  • Exhale, hinge at your hips to fold your torso over your legs, and gently grab hold of whatever you can reach (your quads, shins, ankles, or feet)
  • Keep length in your spine take 5-7 deep breaths

 
 

2. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

This pose increases flexibility in the hips. Low Lunge promotes extension and flexion of the hips, which are both key when coming into Full Splits Pose.
 
low-lunge
 
How to Practice Anjaneyasana

  • From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot between your hands and ensure your right ankle is directly under your right knee
  • Bring your left knee to the mat, and untuck your toes
  • Keep your hands on either side of your right foot
  • Hold for 5-7 deep breaths on each side

 
 

3. Lizard Lunge

Similar to Low Lunge, this pose increases hip flexibility. Lizard Lunge is a bit deeper of a hip stretch, so take it easy, and use blocks if you want to.
 
lizard-lunge
 
How to Practice Lizard Lunge

  • From Low Lunge, bring both hands to the inside of your front foot, and walk your front foot out to the long edge of your mat
  • Keep your hands here, bring them to a block for less intensity, or drop your elbows toward the mat for more intensity
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
 

4. Half Split Pose

Half Split Pose is a great hamstring stretch, and also helps stretch your calf. It’s also a great place start when coming into Full Splits Pose once you are ready to give it a try.
 
half-split
 
How to Practice Half Split Pose

  • From Low Lunge, shift your weight back, straighten your front leg, and flex your front foot
  • Option to stay here, or fold your torso forward for more intensity
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 

 

5. Reclining Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)

This stretch is perfect if your hamstrings are super tight! Add a yoga strap to help you to ease into this pose, which will also help you to prevent injury.
 
hand-big-toe
 
How to Practice Supta Padangusthasana

  • Lie on your back and hug your right knee to your chest (if you’re using a yoga strap, here’s where you loop the strap around the ball of your foot)
  • Gently straighten your right leg towards the sky, keeping both feet flexed
  • Keep a soft bend in your right knee for a less intense stretch
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
 

6. Reclining Quad Stretch (Supta Matsyendrasana Variation)

This unique pose is an intense quad stretch. Our quads are typically very tight, and can be a bit uncomfortable to stretch – remember: if you ever feel pain, back off the stretch a bit. It’s crucial to have flexible quads in order to practice Full Splits.
 
cat-tail
 
How to Practice This Supta Matsyendrasana Variation

  • Lie on your back and hug your knees to your chest
  • Grasp the top of your left foot, or your left ankle, with your right hand, and bring your left leg down to your mat
  • Hold your right shin with your left hand and continue to hug it to your chest
  • Keep your core engaged to protect your low back
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
 

7. Reclined Pigeon Pose

This pose will help you increase flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, and glutes, which will assist you with the necessary actions of your front leg in Full Splits.
 
reclined-pigeon
 
How to Practice Reclined Pigeon Pose

  • Lie on your back with your feet near your glutes on your mat, knees to the sky
  • Cross your right ankle just under your left knee
  • For more intensity, reach behind your left hamstring and bring your legs closer to your chest
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
 

8. Happy Baby

Happy Baby is a pose for deep hip flexion and hamstring flexibility. If you have trouble reaching your feet, you can hold onto your ankles or hamstrings, and still receive the benefits of the stretch.
 
happy-baby
 
How to Practice Happy Baby

  • Lie on your back and hug your knees to your chest
  • Grasp the pinky toe sides of both your feet, then bring your knees towards your armpits and your feet toward the sky
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side

 
 

9. Full Splits Pose With a Yoga Block Assist

If you feel you’re almost ready to come into Full Splits Pose, this is an excellent variation to practice! Begin with your yoga block set to the medium height, eventually working your way down to the lower height, then to no block at all.
 
split-block
 
How to Practice Full Splits Pose With a Yoga Block Assist

  • Return to your Half Split Pose, and place a block under the glute of your front leg
  • Use your hands on either side of your hips to support your body as you lift your back knee off the ground and straighten it as much as you are able
  • Gently bring your hips back towards the mat, placing the glute of your front leg on your yoga block
  • Hold for 5-7 breaths each side

 

Practice These Stretches for Splits Often . . . You’ll Be There Soon!

Achieving the full expression of Hanumanasana (Full Splits Pose) can take some time, but by practicing these 9 yoga poses regularly, you can definitely make it happen!
 
Stretching these areas of the body will also help you to manage your stress levels, and you’ll release tension to feel better overall. So, even if we can’t reach Full Splits pose quite yet, you are still getting a lot of benefit from practicing these 9 yoga poses.
 
Be kind to your body and yourself, and you will achieve Full Splits in no time!
 

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Christina D’Arrigo

Christina began her yoga journey in a Yoga For Dancers class back in 2008, and she is now an RYT 500 level yoga instructor in NYC. With almost a decade of yoga and over 25 years of dance experience, she knows a lot about the body and the way it moves. Christina runs the growing YouTube channel, ChriskaYoga, where she offers free yoga classes and tutorials.

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