When you practise Standing Splits (Urdhva Prasarita Ekapadasana), focus on the stretch in your quad and hamstrings, not how high you can lift your leg. This asana is an Intermediate to Advanced Level pose which is practised for the deeper opening of the hips, and therefore forms part of the Hip Opening Yoga Sequences.
The upward (urdhva) lengthening (prasarita) of one leg (eka pada) in this pose is considered to be an inversion. At the same time, the stretching of the adductors of hips (inner thighs) – together with the hamstrings – is the main focus.
The practise of Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana also teaches students to make an effort to understand their body, its effects, and limitations. With this understanding, Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana helps to maintain a healthy body since – in this posture – the stretching of both sides (right and left) should be done consciously.
Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana technique
Begin in Tadasana. Exhale and fold your body forwards. Place your hands on the floor on either side of your right foot. If your hands don’t rest comfortably on the floor, support each one on a block. For extra stability, walk your hands slightly ahead of you and shift your weight onto the right foot. Then, inhale and lift your left leg as high as you can.
Keep the hips square. Tighten your standing leg and pull in your knee cap. Rotate the thigh outwards and turn the knee so that the kneecap faces straight ahead. Don’t focus on how high your raise leg goes. Instead, work towards directing equal energy into both legs. Hold between 30 seconds and one minute.
Then, lower your raised leg with an exhale and repeat on the other side for the same length of time. Finish in Tadasana.
If you’re a beginner, and you can’t reach the floor, then use a block. You can also support the lifted leg by pressing the lifted foot against a wall or hooking its front ankle over the top edge of a stable chair.
If you’re an advanced student, extend the leg higher or press the raised legs against a wall to intensify the stretch. If you’re flexible and have the right balance, you can grasp the back of the standing-leg ankle with the opposite-side hand.
Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana effects
- Stretches the hamstrings, calves as well as thighs.
- Strengthens the thighs, knees as well as ankles.
- Stretches the back of the leg, the front of the thigh and the groin.
- Stimulates the liver and the kidneys.
- Calms the brain.
Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana deferrals and cautions:
- If you suffer from lower back, ankle or knee injuries be cautious
- Avoid this pose if you have high blood pressure or a heart condition
Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana preparatory pose
- Prasarita Padottanasana
- Adho Muka Svanasana
- Janu Sirasasana
- Supta Padangustasana
- Cobra Pose
- Mountain Pose
- Side leg forward bend
- Resting forward bend
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