The Straddle Splits may seems like a ridiculously unattainable posture, set aside only for gymnasts or the young whippersnappers with naturally open hips and legs.
The truth is that this pose offers some excellent and unique benefits for the body, such as opening in the hips in a way that is not usually done, opening the inner thigh muscles, strengthening the core and gluteus muscles, and even opening the deep pelvic muscles most of us never touch.
This pose is generally practiced sitting straight up, with the legs opened wide apart, which requires deep flexibility and strength. Here are five warm up postures you can use to help move you towards this posture.
1. Frog Pose
Frog Pose is amazing for opening those deep inner thigh muscles. To get you started in this pose, come into all fours. Move from resting on your hands to resting on your forearms. Then, slowly and with control, start moving your knees apart, lowering your hips and pelvis down toward the ground.
Go slow and breathe deeply, making sure to never go beyond your current level of openness. Hang out here for 10 to 15 breaths.
2. Supta Baddha Konasana
This pose is awesome for passively opening the hips and thighs, which can be a nice change from the more active forms of stretching. Simply sit up tall, bringing the souls of your feet to touch. Place a pillow or a pile of pillows behind your seat, and slowly start to recline back onto your support.
Keep your feet together, and your knees dropping out to the side. When you have reached your edge, allow your upper body to fully release and relax. Keep in mind that this type of release is incredibly powerful for opening tight muscles that do not respond well to stronger stretches.
Practice this pose for several minutes, and then be sure to come out of it mindfully.
3. Baddha Konasana
This pose, also known as Butterfly Pose, is one of my personal favorites for moving towards Straddle Splits. Start as you did with the posture above, seated tall, soles of the feet together. Allow your knees to drop out the side gently, without pushing or forcing them down.
Inhale and exhale here—and if you wish you can simply stay where you are. Your knees may be floating high above the ground—if this is the case I suggest you take some support under your seat to help lift your hips off the floor.
This will be better for your knees, and will help release the tension in your hip flexors. If you’re feeling comfortable here, you can slowly start moving your chest toward your feet, folding forward with a straight spine. Hold this pose for five to 10 breaths.
4. Straddle Splits at the Wall
Using the wall for support in this pose will offer incredible benefits. Start by sitting facing a wall, and then open your legs towards the Straddle Splits. Lift your seat and move your bottom towards the wall, bringing your feet to the wall.
Move yourself so that your pelvis is coming closer and closer to the wall, and your legs are opening father and father apart. Stop when you can no longer hold your upper body fully straight—if you notice your back start to bend back up a little.
Hang out here and breath for 10 to 15 breaths, then slowly back away from the wall and rest in a reclined position for a few breaths.
5. The Pancake
Finally, practicing Pancake Pose can be a super duper hip opener that will make the upright splits seem easy! Start by sitting up tall, and spreading your legs wide apart. Then slowly and with control, lift your chest to create length in your spine. Flex your toes to create some tension along your legs.
Place your fingertips just in front of your pelvis on the floor, and slowly walk them forward, moving your chest towards the floor. Only go as far as you can with a long straight spine. Breathe for 10 to 15 breaths, allowing yourself to release into the pose more and more.
Gravity is your best buddy in this pose, helping you to open your hips and legs so that the Splits become more accessible for you.
Have you ever tried the Straddle Splits before? Do you think any of these poses will help you if you are working towards this pose?