Hello everyone! As many of you know I have decided to embark on a 12 week journey to see if I can get into the splits.
I am naturally very inflexible in my hips and legs so this is new to me, and will take a lot of practice and consistency. However, I always love a good challenge! In fact here is what my splits look like on day one of the challenge! As you can see, I have a long way to go!
In order for me to get into the splits I really need to focus on increasing my hip flexor, hamstrings, quads and calves flexibility.
This week I did this by practicing the following postures.
Just as a reminder I often review these poses in the Free Thursday Night Yin class, which you can find here. It can be beneficial to see live demonstrations of the postures.
Furthermore, please make sure you take a quick peek at the general guidelines of the 12 week splits challenge, which you can find here.
1. The Warm Up Surya Namaskar Sun Salutations. X5
I can’t stress enough how important doing a really good warm up is! We are going to be working into the muscles a LOT and it is imperative that you warm up properly to avoid injury.
I would even recommend that you even do some on the spot running or jumping jacks before starting Surya Namaskar Sun Salutations.
2. Forward Fold
Keeping the hips raised and the spine as straight as possible try to bring the crown of the head towards the floor. Suck in the low belly and lead with the chest.
It’s ok if the knees are bent to begin with. Focus on hinging forward from the hips, lengthening the spine and then work towards straightening the legs.
Hold this posture for as long as possible, then repeat 3-5 X.
3. Downward Facing Dog
Press into the palms, lengthen through the spine, lift the hips and send the heels down to the earth. Breathe deep sending the breath to anywhere in the body that may be feeling tight.
Take long, full breaths, and exhale completely.
Feel free to bend one knee at a time for a deeper stretch of the hamstrings and calves.
Hold this posture for as long as possible, take a break and repeat 3 times.
Keep the front knee at 90 degrees, taking care not to let the knee go beyond the ankle. Press the left hip flexor forward allowing the hips to stay in line with one another. Keep leaning forward and pressing the left hip flexor forward.
Breathe deep sending the breath deep into the hips and remembering to exhale completely.
Stay here for as long as you can, take a rest and repeat 3 X per leg.
5. Lizard Pose/Sleeping Dragon
Keeping in the lunge position, allow the front leg to move out to the side slightly. Bring the arm inside the legs. Slowly and moving with the breath allow yourself to move deeper into the posture by lowering yourself to whatever degree is possible for you.
It’s really important to breath deep, and don’t push yourself too far, too fast. Listen to your body and don’t force yourself into something the body isn’t ready for!
Stay here as long as possible, rest and repeat 3X, moving in and out of the pose slowly and with control.
Moving the lunge and lizard pose, draw the hip of the front leg into the pelvis. From here, flex the foot and lift the toes. Keeping the spine long start to fold over the front leg.
Keep the posture for as long as possible, take a rest and repeat 3X.
7. Saddle pose/Half Saddle pose
Keeping the knees together gently allow the feet to come on either sides of the hips. Gently and with control, start to lower your upper body onto the floor.
You can use props, or stay upright. You are targeting the quads so just go to a place where you feel the stretch.
If this is not accessible you can come into the half posture keeping one leg extended. Only go to the degree that your body allows, being mindful to avoid injury.
Stay in this position as long as possible, and repeat 3X
So far I have been doing these stretches for 3 days consistently, usually once in the morning when I wake up and once at night right before bed. This is my progress so far. I expect there will be lots of ups and downs in the coming months, but hopefully with consistency I will continue to make improvements.