Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana or the standing split is a pose included for toning of the body. The standing split in yoga is used to give your body an effective stretch, from the neck to the ankle. This pose is also a common preparatory position for the front-to-back split pose done on the floor, which is known as Monkey Pose.
What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana
This asana must be performed on an empty stomach. You must have your meals at least four to six hours before you practice yoga. You must also make sure that your bowels are empty. Do not practice Standing Split if you have a recent or chronic ankle, knee, or low back injury. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities.
How To Do The Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana
: Step-by-Step Instructions
- The standing split steps include standing in the warrior pose to start the standing split. Raise your left arm while extending your right leg. Twist your torso to the right as you exhale and lift your left leg into the air.
- Now slowly lean forward and position your torso on your right thigh and rest your hands on the floor to bear the weight of your torso. Slowly shift weight on to your right leg while straightening your left leg over your head.
- It is important to rotate your leg and hip joint correctly while doing this pose. You have to ensure that your pelvis remains parallel to the floor though it might want to tilt to the left to balance the weight.
- Both legs and especially the knees need to remain straight. You need to pay special attention to keeping those legs straight. Both knee caps should face straight ahead. You have to push towards keeping the airborne leg straight and standing straight, simultaneously.
- As you get flexible you will be able to grasp the leg standing on the floor as the other leg ascends. The leg will ascend as the torso descends.
- Stay in this position for at least 30 seconds and slowly extend to a minute. Slowly exhale as you come back to the starting position. Repeat the steps with the other leg.
Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) provides the foundation for this pose, so it’s important to learn the correct alignment for Uttanasana before moving into Standing Split.
- Be sure to warm up your hamstrings well before practicing this pose! Some good poses include Sun Salutation C (Surya Namaskara C), Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana), Triangle Pose (Trikonasana), and Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana).
- As in all forward folds, make sure the front of your torso stays long and extended. Do not allow your spine to overly round.
- Focus on the stretch, not on the lift! It doesn’t matter how high your leg goes if you don’t have correct alignment. Work toward maintaining an equal balance of energy and effort in both legs.
A beginner’s tip for standing split is using a chair or a wall. Use a wall to support the raised leg or loop it around a high chair’s back while doing the pose. This will help you establish balance and confidence while doing the pose. The emphasis is on the stretch not the rise of the leg. Remember to extend the torso once the leg is elevated.
Modifications & Variations
Try these simple changes to find a variation of the pose that works for you:
- If your hands don’t rest easily on the floor, place each hand on a yoga block.
- More flexible students can clasp the outer ankle of the standing leg with the opposite-side hand.
- To gradually deepen the pose, bend your standing leg. Then lift your raised leg slightly higher. Keep the raised leg at that height, then straighten the front leg again.
- To support the lifted leg as you gain strength and flexibility, rest your raised foot along the top edge of a chair, table, or ballet barre. You can also press the raised foot against a wall.
Benefits Of The Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana
- Standing Split stretches the whole back side of the body, particularly the hamstrings and calves.
- It strengthens the thighs, knees, and ankles, and also stretches the groin muscles. Supporting your body’s weight on one leg, while upside-down, will greatly challenge and improve your balance.
- Since your heart is above your head in this pose, it is considered a mild inversion (less intense than other inversions, like Headstand).
- It holds the benefits of other inversions, including relief from headaches, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, and mild depression.
- The increased flow of blood to the brain calms the nervous system. This helps to improve memory and concentration, and relieve stress.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Standing Split will challenge your muscles and your mind! It is a powerful leg-strengthener that will add variety and spark to your regular practice. Remember to take it slowly and never force the pose. With practice, you’ll be lifting your leg sky-high!