Urdhva Prasarita Ekapadasana: Standing Splits Pose
Urdhva prasarita ekapadasana (OORD-vah pra-sa-REE-tah EH-kah pahd-AS-ah-nah) is a great pose for practicing balance and increasing flexibility in the hamstrings. Standing splits also helps stabilize the hips and pelvis (with correct, closed-hip alignment), making it a great pose for building a solid foundation for your asana practice.
Philosophy + Origin
A variation of Hanumanasana (front splits pose), standing splits requires many of the same physical attributes and awareness. This version of the splits is physically challenging and asks to respect where you are today. Think of your lifted leg as an opportunity to strive and your lower leg as a reminder to be patient with your capacity at this moment.
- Place two blocks under your hands to bring the ground closer to you.
- Put the sole of your lifted foot against a wall for more stability.
- Begin in a lunge with your right foot forward. Place your hands on either side of your front foot, on blocks or the ground.
- Shift your weight onto your right foot and slide your left foot in, then lift it off the ground.
- Find a halfway lift in your torso, then fold your chest toward your toes.
- Lift your left leg up as high as you can while keeping hips level to the ground.
- Hold for up to 60 seconds before lowering the left leg to a forward fold. Pause for a few breaths then step the right foot back and repeat on the other side.
- Urdhva = upward
- Prasarita = wide stance
- Eka = one
- Pada = foot
- Asana = pose
- Stretches hip flexors, calves, and hamstrings.
- Creates stability in pelvis and hips.
Ardha Uttanasana: Half Standing Forward Bend
An effective stretch for your hamstrings and calves ardha uttanasana (ARE-dah OOT-tan-AHS-anna), is often used during vinyasa sequences to connect the breath as you flow from one posture to the next.
Philosophy + Origin
One of the reasons ardha uttanasana is used so much in vinyasa yoga classes is that it positions the body for chaturanga dandasana. Because it engages the navel and core, it’s a powerful pose for warming up the body, which is why it’s included in warm-up sequences. Despite its sometimes transitory nature, the pose also engages the navel chakra (manipura), which can bring the practitioner increased confidence and willpower.