Being a runner who hated stretches in the past, accomplishing splits for me felt like a very, very, very distant dream. In fact, most people had the misconception that unless you were trained in ballet or gymnastics since young, it would be virtually impossible to get the splits when you’re older.
However, that’s totally untrue! I honestly was one of the more inflexible person around and I really disliked stretching before I started yoga. Eventually I was able to improve my hamstring flexibility and subsequently work towards a full split! As you can see my hip flexibility is not quite there yet, but I am proud to say that I am around 99% there now!
Some of you might wonder how long it would take for you to get a full split. Truth be told, there is no fixed time line on when you will get your split. It differs from person to person, and it is extremely important to take it easy, take rest days, and *not* force the split because it can easily lead to injuries. Like I always say, enjoy the process, and everything else will fall into place.
So today I would like to share some of the poses that I normally do to improve my hamstring flexibility, and these might eventually help you improve your flexibility and get your full split! <:
Here are 8 poses that can help you work towards a full split:
You can either come into a standing pigeon (as pictured on the right), or come into your resting pigeon, where you place your forehead on to the ground. This is a great hip opener that helps to improve your hip flexibility. If this is really intense for you, you can use a yoga block or a towel to prop yourself up.
This is one of my favourite hamstring stretch because it gives you a greater stretch as opposed to a seated forward fold. Feel free to use a towel if you can’t quite reach your foot yet, and make sure your shoulder blades are still touching the mat.
Kneeling on one knee, stretch out the other leg towards the front and melt your tummy towards your thigh. Try not to round your back too much – a great gauge would be to shift your gaze towards your toes and aim your forehead towards the shins.
4. Lizard pose
There are 2 variations that you can take with lizard pose. The first variation (left) allows you to focus on opening up your hips, and the second variation kicks it up a notch by adding some core work into the pose. You can either clasp your hands together or lay your palms flat on to the ground, although laying your palms flat on to the ground would make it a little more challenging. If you are lifting your knee up, remember to actively engage your back quads by consciously pulling your knee up towards the sky. Shift your gaze towards the front of the mat and try not to look downwards. That would keep your neck aligned with your spine and would place unnecessary stress on your neck.
When you come into this pose, make sure that your back toes are pointing 45 degrees towards the front of the mat. Try not to round your back as well – the point is not to touch your forehead to your knee, but to keep a flat back. You may or may not be able to touch the ground, and if this is a little too much for you, place a block (or some books) on both sides to rest your hand on. Keep breathing!
Sit your bum as close to your heels as possible and open up your knees towards the side. You can either place your hands on your knees and *gently* press your knee towards the ground, or you can hinge from the hips and reach your hands forward, coming into a passive fold.
Lie down on your mat and make sure that your shoulder blades and tailbone are touching the mat. Come into happy baby, and gently open your hips by pushing your knee as close to the ground as possible. Feel free to rock your body from side to side to ease any tension in your lower back. Smile!
To end off the practice, hug your knees towards your chest and rock your body from side to side if that feels good for you. This pose massages from transverse colon, which is great for digestion!
I hope you guys will find this yoga guide useful! Remember not to push yourself too much and give yourself rest days. Most importantly, do not rush into a stretch as that might strain your muscles. It’s not about how fast you get your splits – it’s about improving your hamstring flexibility bit by bit!
Feel free to comment below if you have any questions or any suggestions of what I should do for my next yoga guide – would love to hear from you guys <: