Week 1 Reflection
Also make sure you check out the guidelines and goals of this challenge.
In this past week I have made some progress, but hit some plateaus, and encountered some obstacles! How is everyone else feeling?
Progressions and Improvements I noticed
1. I have been stretching daily and noticed that by the end of the week I was dropping much deeper into the postures. What had seemed like an immense effort in the beginning, seemed to become a little easier.
2. I have particularly tight quads and I noticed that they were starting to loosen up and it made it a little easier to work on getting the back leg more straight.
3. This week I noticed a huge increase in flexibility in my hamstrings. In this respect I started to find it more easy to extend my front leg forward when lowering into the split position.
Obstacles I Encountered
1. Training for the splits sometimes hurts! Holding the postures for extended periods of time can be quite uncomfortable. I really had to learn to listen to my body and push when I needed to push, and let go when I needed to let go. Sometimes because its uncomfortable I found I was getting frustrated.
2. Lack of flexibility in the quads: Although I noticed that my flexibility in the thighs did increase, it was still maddening that I can’t seem to get my back leg straight in the posture. Because I am so tight in this area I found I became agitated and wanted to come out. I did my best to breathe and stay in the postures… but a few times I gave in and came out early.
3. Motivation: Sometimes I struggled to motivate myself to get into uncomfortable positions. I like to be lazy and the thought of jumping out of bed in the morning and getting into an uncomfortable position sometimes felt like a chore. However, once I actually got myself to do it… i felt better after.
Progress Over The Week
As you can see, I made some progress over the past week. My hip flexors and quads will require some more attention and love, but I’ll keep working at it. Despite the challenges and obstacles that showed up, I’m pretty content with the results of week 1.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Ok, so now I feel it’s time to add some additional postures into our stretching routine. We’re starting to get “comfortable” with a few postures so let’s add a few more.
Remember to warm up well before you practice the week 1 & 2 postures!
1. Wide Leg Forward Fold
Spread the legs wide apart and turn the toes inward just slightly.
Place the hands on the hips and keeping the spine long exhale and come halfway down.
Take an inhale, and on the exhale bring the hands to floor and try to bring the crown of the head as close to the floor as possible.
Try to keep the movement from the hips so the spine is long, and you’re not rounding your back. The closer you move your hands in between the legs, the more you will feel the stretch. Hold for as long as possible, and exit the same way you entered the pose. Repeat this 3-5 times.
2. One Legged Half King Pigeon
Come into your lunge pose bringing the front leg to a 90 degree angle. Once you have you balance carefully reach back with the arm that is on the same side as the back leg.
See if you can reach to ankle or the foot. If it is possible gently draw the foot closer to the glutes. You will feel the stretch in the quads and just remember to be mindful of the knees. If you feel any pain exit the pose immediately.
Take your time and don’t go too fast! If you’re tight in the quads this one can be quite intense!
Hold the pose on each leg for as long as possible and repeat 3 times/leg.
3. Side Seated Wide Angle Pose
Ok, so this one can seem pretty intimidating, so just do what you can. Start by spreading the legs as far apart as possible. Flex the feet and externally rotate the thighs back.
Start to learn over one leg keeping the chest open and the shoulders in line. Make it a goal to touch to toes, but don’t worry if you don’t! I definitely didn’t. If you have a strap, this can be a good time to use it.
Don’t push yourself to far too fast, remember to breathe, and take your time! Over time the body will open and you will be able to come deeper.
Hold for approximately 20-30 seconds on each side and repeat 3 times.
4. Wide Angle Seated Forward Fold
Again, this one can seem scary at first. Don’t allow yourself to get frustrated or discouraged if it isn’t available right away.
Start by spreading the legs as wide as possible. From here flex the feet and roll the thighs back. Sit up tall, and stay sitting upright for a few breaths.
Once the body is ready keep the spine straight and start to place the hands on the ground in front of you. Take your time and wait for the body to invite you deeper. Don’t force anything.
As you begin to open up slowly walk the hands forward.
You don’t need to get down super low to feel the benefits. Just do what you can, and take care not to push too far too fast! Patience is key. I’ve been working on this posture for a while and I still don’t have my chest on the floor.
Hold for about 20-30 seconds and when you’re ready slowly exit the pose the same way you entered. Shake the legs and hips out and try 2-3 times. o
Don't Get Frustrated!
The splits are challenging to achieve, they take time and commitment and it is unlikely to happen over night for most people.
Take your time. Do you best to enjoy the discomfort, and trust the process. If you have any questions feel free to shoot me a message and ask. We also have classes available weekly, of which I give live demos of the provided postures. There is also free yin class every Thursday night at 7PM EST. Be sure to check those out here!
Until next week, keep at it, do your best and relax.