I love doing the splits because well, they’re a lot easier for me than some other things (looking at you, push ups). Not only that, we hold onto a lot of tension and stress in our hips and pelvis, which is why stretching out this area of the body is so soothing and calming, both emotionally and mentally. Practicing the splits will also help tone, lengthen, and strengthen the abductor muscles in the thighs.
Even if your hips are not naturally super flexible, getting your splits is not as hard as it may seem! Just like any other physical exercise or pose, all splits require are some practice. As you do this stretch sequence, remember to breathe into your stretches deeply–this will help relax, stretch, and lengthen muscles instead of contracting them. (With one exception of resistance stretch–we’ll get there). Once you get the hang of the sequence, it’s really easy to do these while multi-tasking–so try them before bed every night and see how much you improve!
1. Splits Stretch sequence
Stand in second position, toes turned out and hips squared. Reach above your head and swing to your right side, and make a big counterclockwise circle with your torso until you fold over and reach down.
Once you fold over, bring your toes in until they face directly forward. Grab onto the outside of your ankles and bend and stretch your knees a few times.
Pivot your heels to your left until your hips are squared to your left leg, right leg behind you, and bring your nose to your left knee.
From here, gently lower down into your lowest splits. If you can’t reach the floor yet, use your hands to press yourself up. Point your toes and straighten your knees as much as possible. (I apologize for bending my back leg! My back toes were jamming into my closet!)
From splits, gently swivel your hips to face center, coming into center splits. Reach for your right foot with your left hand, keeping your torso squared to the front.
Now press down on your left hip and turn to the right, and bend down to press your nose over your right knee. To come out, bring your left leg to meet your right, then roll slowly up one vertebra at a time. Switch sides and repeat from the top.
2. Resistance stretch
Start by lying on your back. Lift your left leg toward the ceiling, foot flexed, and reach and grab onto your heel or ankle. Inhale big and push your leg hard against your hands for 10 seconds. Exhale and let go of all contraction in your leg–you should feel a huge relief as the leg comes a few inches effortlessly toward your face. Repeat as many times as you like. Switch sides.
3. Standing side split
Related: 5 Post Run Stretches
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling