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.
Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose
Bhujangasana (boo-jang-GAHS-anna) is a great way to strengthen the upper back and is often practiced as part of a transition back to downward-facing dog in vinyasa yoga. Practicing cobra pose regularly can improve your lung capacity, reduce stress, and stimulate many of the internal organs in your body.
Philosophy + Origin
Although often perceived as evil or dangerous, snakes also have a rich history of power and worship. In some yoga traditions, the energy of kundalini is represented by a serpent resting coiled at the base of the spine. By awakening this snake, we enliven our body’s energy and create a pathway towards enlightenment. This connection with enlightenment is also seen in many portrayals of the Buddha where he is shown with a cobra over his head.
- Option to swap cobra pose for sphinx pose by placing your forearms on the floor.
- Lengthen the back of the neck to avoid straining the neck and upper back.
- If you experience discomfort in the lower back, bend the elbows more.