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Splits In Yoga: Variations & 6 Preparation Poses

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a woman is practicing yoga, doing front splits, splits in yoga
Elyce Neuhauser post Reviewer Elyce Neuhauser post Reviewer
Verified by Elyce Neuhauser
Yoga Expert, E-RYT 500, Certified Meditation Coach

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Stretch and strengthen your hips and legs with splits in yoga and all of its variations, which require hip flexion, extension, adduction, and abduction. In this article, we will delve into the types of splits in yoga and share six preparation poses that will help you work towards mastering splits.

Splits in Yoga: Variations

Full Splits Pose (Hanumanasana)

The front split, or Hanumanasana, is a challenging pose that stretches the hamstrings, thighs, glutes, and groins. It also opens up the hip flexors and helps improve stability and focus. 

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Full Splits Pose, splits in yoga (Hanumanasana)


  • Strengthens the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Deeply stretches the legs, hip flexors, and groin muscles.
  • Engages and strengthens the core.

How to Practice:

  • Begin in a lunge position with your right foot forward. 
  •  Lower your left knee down to the ground and square off your hips.
  • Move your hips back so they stack over your left knee, but keep your left hip bone pressing forward. Work to straighten your right leg.
  • Keep straightening your right leg, hugging the right hip back, and now begin to straighten your left leg, moving the pelvis forward and down to the floor. 
  • Ensure that your hips are square and keep your right foot flexed.
  • Actively press the top of the left foot into the floor.
  • Engage your core. Use your hands for support on either side of the right leg or yoga blocks if needed.
  • Only go as far down as your body allows without forcing your muscles and joints while you maintain proper alignment. If your legs, groins, or hips are tight, you may place a bolster or blanket underneath the pelvis.
  • If you feel comfortable, you can release your hands from the floor or blocks and bring them to your heart center or extend them overhead.

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Wide Angle Forward Fold Pose (Upavistha Konasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Wide Angle Forward Fold Pose (Upavistha Konasana), splits in yoga

Upavistha Konasana, sometimes called straddle or center splits, is excellent for opening up the inner thighs and groin area. This pose enhances hip flexibility and increases blood flow to the pelvic region. 


  • Stretches the inner thighs, hamstrings, and groin muscles.
  • Opens the hip flexors.
  • Calms the mind and decreases anxiety.

How to Practice:

  • Begin seated on the floor with your legs extended straight out in front of you.
  • Open your legs wide apart, aiming for about a 90-degree angle between them.
  • Flex your feet with your toes pointing upward.
  • Inhale deeply as you lengthen your spine, lift your chest, and engage the core.
  • As you exhale, begin to walk your hands forward in front of you, hinging from the hips.
  • Lower your upper body towards the floor, keeping your spine long.
  • Go only as far down as your body allows without straining or overstretching, then soften your shoulders and neck.
  • For more intensity, you may walk your hands further forward to deepen the stretch.
  • If your legs or back are tight, feel free to bend the knees or use props underneath the seat or knees.

Standing Splits (Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Standing Splits (Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana), splits in yoga

Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana, or Standing Splits, is an internally rotated, standing variation that primarily works on stretching the hamstrings and improving balance. It also strengthens the legs and engages the core muscles. 


  • Develops balance and focus.
  • Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and inner thighs.
  • Strengthens the legs.

How to Practice:

  • Begin in a Standing Forward Fold with feet hip-width apart. Ground yourself firmly through both feet.
  • Walk your hands out in front of you as you shift your weight onto your left foot and engage your core for stability.
  • Lift your right leg off the ground, bringing it back behind you, parallel to the floor. Place your hands directly underneath your shoulders. You may use blocks under your hands or come onto your fingertips.
  • Flex your right foot with the toes pointed down towards the floor. Keep your hips square..
  • Inhale deeply, lengthening and lifting your spine parallel to the ground, and exhale as you hinge forward at the hips.
  • Lower your torso towards the left leg as you lift the outer left hip and inner right thigh simultaneously. Go only as far as your body allows without straining.
  • If you have more flexibility and would like to explore deeper balance, you may bring your hands to your left ankle, intensifying the forward fold and enhancing the hamstring stretch.

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Preparation for Practicing Splits in Yoga

Before attempting full split and its variations, it’s essential to warm up your body and gradually work towards these challenging postures. Practice the following poses to prepare your hips, legs, and entire body.

#1 Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana), splits in yoga

How to Practice:

  • Sit with your legs stretched straight out in front of you.
  • Inhale, lengthen the spine and exhale as you fold forward from the hips.
  • Place your hands on the floor, your legs, or if you have deeper flexibility, hold your ankles, feet, or toes while keeping the back extended.
  • Breathe deeply and then soften the shoulders and neck as you hold the pose for 30-60 seconds.

#2 Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), splits in yoga

How to Practice:

  • Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Bring your right knee forward, externally rotating the right thigh, and place the knee behind your right wrist as you lower the outer right shin and foot to the ground.
  • Lower the left knee and the pelvis towards the ground. Slide the left leg back, working to straighten it while you press the left hip forward. 
  • Feel free to use a bolster, blocks, or firm blanket underneath the pelvis or thighs. You may hinge from the hips, lowering the upper body towards the floor.
  • Hold the pose for 30-60 seconds on each side.

#3 Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana), splits in yoga

How to Practice:

  • From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot forward between your hands.
  • Lower your left knee to the ground. Isometrically hug your right foot to your left knee.
  • Inhale, lift your torso, bringing your arms up and overhead.
  • Hold the pose for 30-60 seconds on each side.

#4 Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana), splits in yoga

How to Practice:

  • From a low lunge position, move your right foot to the right edge of the mat.
  • Lower your forearms to the ground, or on top of blocks, on the big toe side of your right foot.
  • Keep the back leg as straight as possible and breathe deeply. For more stretch intensity, keep the left foot pointed.
  • Hold the pose for 30-60 seconds on each side.

#5 Downward Facing Dog Splits Pose (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Downward Facing Dog Splits Pose (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana), splits in yoga

How to Practice:

  • Begin in Downward Facing Dog.
  • Lift your right leg up towards the ceiling, keeping the hips squared.
  • Lift the outer left hip and the inner right thigh to stabilize the hips and maintain internal rotation.
  • Hold the pose for 30-60 seconds on each side.

#6 Half Splits Pose (Ardha Hanumanasana)

a woman is practicing yoga, doing Half Splits Pose (Ardha Hanumanasana), splits in yoga

How to Practice:

  • From a low lunge position with the left knee down, shift your hips back, straightening the right leg.
  • Keep the hips elevated over the left knee. Flex the right toes and keep the spine long.
  • Hinge forward from the hips, continuing to extend the spine as you keep the chest lifted.
  • Hold the pose for 30-60 seconds on each side.

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Using Props to Practice Splits

Blocks, bolsters, firm blankets, or even pillows can provide additional support while attempting splits. Props can facilitate ease when entering the poses, help you gradually deepen your stretches and prevent injury.

For example, in Hanumanasana and Upavistha Konasana, you can place a yoga bolster or block under the groin or underneath the knees or thighs.

How Long Does It Take To Master The Splits?

With regular practice, you can expect to master the splits in a couple of months. 

However, the time it takes to achieve full splits varies for each person, depending on factors like natural flexibility, consistent practice, and anatomical differences. Be patient, listen to your body, and avoid pushing yourself beyond your limits.

When You Should Abstain From Splits

Those with lower back, hip, hamstring, or glute injuries should avoid practicing full splits. Under the careful guidance of an experienced instructor, consider some of the prep poses as you ease your way into good health. Contraindications for splits pose variations include:

  • Injuries to lower body muscles, joints, or ligaments 
  • Healing fractures of the pelvis, hips, legs, or spine
  • Acute sciatica.

Consult your wellness provider if you have any of these or additional health concerns.

Wrapping Up

Embrace the journey, and remember that the true essence of yoga lies in the growth and self-awareness you gain along the journey to mastering any pose. 

  • Yoga splits and their variations are challenging but attainable with consistent practice and patience.
  • Types of splits in yoga include Front Splits, straddle splits, and Standing Splits, and each has great benefits for flexibility.
  • Prepare your body for splits with a sequence of yoga warm-up poses to stretch the hips and legs gradually.
  • Props can be beneficial in supporting your splits practice.
  • The time it takes to do splits varies for each person, so avoid rushing the process.
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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