Open Splits

Open Splits

Follow This Flexibility Formula

SAMAKONASANA

OPEN SPLITS

Open Splits is one of those postures that may not always make it into your asana practice, but there are a number of good reasons for it to start showing up more often. It does require a considerable amount of flexibility, and Matt lays out the perfect flexibility formula in order to safely execute the posture. What it does is offer much more than the result: It takes you on a path toward greater balance in your body, more specifically in the hips. The adductor muscles don’t often get as much of the limelight as some of the other muscles of the hips (e.g., glutes), so Open Splits (Samakonasana) is an opportunity to create more muscle integrity in the adductors, tensor fasciae latae (TFL) muscles, hip flexors, and inner hamstrings.

 

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  • Increase active and passive range of motion
  • Learn anatomical techniques to improve functionality
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MUSCLE INTEGRITY

What is muscle integrity? It’s essentially the health of a muscle or muscle group. This can still be vague—what is a healthy muscle? Part of having healthy muscle tissue means that you have the ability to control the contraction of a particular muscle or the amount of contraction and relaxation within a group of muscles, at any length. This is important in Open Splits, because even though your legs are out wide, you should have the ability to contract back inwards. One of the most important things to do to maintain safe execution is to never go to your full end range. Staying at approximately 70% of your range will help minimize the chance of injury.

WATCH THE VIDEO: OPEN SPLITS: FLEXIBILITY FORMULA

MORE THAN MUSCLE ACTIVATION

There are specific articulations in your body that are key components of the flexibility formula for Open Splits. These articulations will help you achieve the desired activation of muscle tissue and joint placement. For example, the anterior tilt of the pelvis assists in the activation of the TFL (an internal rotator). Once you bring your awareness to this sensation, you can layer on the additional and contrasting action of spiraling the thigh bones outwards in order to ignite the outer hips (abductors) as well.

The most important thing is to always take it step by step. Let’s examine from the beginning each action that Matt breaks down in the video.

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FOLLOW THIS FLEXIBILITY FORMULA

There are a number of actions and co-activations that need to happen in order to maintain safety and build upon muscle integrity in Open Splits. As mentioned before, once you get into a straddle position, it’s important to remain mindful and stay away from going to your complete end range. You should recognize a subtle sensation of stretch in the inner thighs and hamstrings. Staying within this range and then isometrically activating your adductors, hamstrings, and TFL is the formula to follow. The stars of the show, however, are patience and restraint. Staying behind your end range and having the patience to allow your muscles to adapt and continue to grow into new flexibility will promote increased healthy muscle tissue.

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OPEN SPLITS EXECUTION

In the execution of open splits, remember to layer each action:

  1. Dorsiflex your toes and point both knees and toes to the sky
  2. Send inner groins down to the ground
  3. Micro bend your knees (to alleviate pressure here) and press your heels down into the earth (to light up the hamstrings)
  4. Push outward now while pushing toes out and pressing legs apart, so pelvis goes more into anterior tilt (legs stay as they are)
  5. Once you feel the stretch in the adductor muscles, start to press your heels down and micro tuck the tailbone (more posterior tilt of the pelvis), or suction the thigh bones into the hip sockets, so the TFL starts to ignite and pull feet towards each other. It is more about stability here, rather than straining. 

Playing with different articulations is helpful in deciphering what areas continue to require attention (i.e., what feels tight and/or what feels hypermobile). For example, if you want to continue bowing forward, you may return back to pressing legs apart and groins back or hips more forward. This will offer a deeper stretch in your adductors. Going back and forth between push and pull actions helps increase hip mobility.

Matt’s current Hip Mobility immersion offers a deep dive into the breakdown of specific asanas related to increased flexibility, strength, and mobility of the hips. More importantly, it puts hip health at center stage. Direct your experience and elevate your practice by registering today.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Hips & Hamstrings

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Leg Over Head Preparation

Leg Over Head Preparation

Access Deeper Hip Opening

FLEXIBILITY

LEG OVER HEAD PREPARATION

Looking at a posture like Leg Over Head Pose, you might think that this extreme hip opener is completely off the table in terms of incorporating it into your yoga practice. Don’t turn away from it just yet. As always, it’s the preparation you need to place on a pedestal. Leg Over Head preparation is potentially the key that will unlock your access to this and other hip-opening postures.

 

Online Yoga for Hip Openers and Flexibility

HIP MOBILITY

October 2022 Immersion

  • Strengthen and lengthen your hips
  • Increase active and passive range of motion
  • Learn anatomical techniques to improve functionality
  • Access a wider range of seated postures and hip openers
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that’s convenient for you

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CHASING THE POSTURE

Let’s be clear that accessing postures is a nice outcome, but it’s the journey of self discovery along the way that is the true gift. Leg Over Head Pose, even the preparation if you will, can look quite intimidating. It might be a pose you completely reject and turn away from, or it might become a posture you choose to pursue. If you choose the latter, it’s important to understand that “chasing” the posture is not the answer. It’s an extreme posture, so taking your time through the process, unfolding your individual needs, and allowing yourself to be patient with all that’s required is the best approach.

Relentlessly chasing the posture may take you further away from feeling the benefits it has to offer. A healthy amount of discernment regarding when to push forward and when to pull back will provide a more positive experience. 

WATCH THE VIDEO: LEG OVER HEAD PREPARATION

RESTRICTION OF THE HIPS

Because so many parts of the hip play an active role in its execution, Leg Over Head preparation is an excellent posture to include in your practice when restriction/tightness of the hips is an issue. The muscles that need to be lengthened are primarily the hamstrings, adductors, and outer hips. The pose also requires extreme hip flexion and rotation. 

Restricted hip mobility has shown a strong correlation with various pathologies of the hip, lumbar spine, and lower extremities. Restricted mobility can consequently have deleterious effects not only at the involved joint but throughout the entire kinetic chain.”

Reiman MP, Matheson JW. Restricted hip mobility: clinical suggestions for self-mobilization and muscle re-education. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2013 Oct;8(5):729-40. PMID: 24175151; PMCID: PMC3811738.

Limited hip mobility leaves the door open for potential injury. This may be expressed as back pain, pelvic instability, everyday and/or athletic performance hindrance, and more. Focusing on benefits such as increased range of motion, better alignment, and increased flexibility will steer you in a positive direction.

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LEG OVER HEAD PREPARATION STEP BY STEP

Level I Preparation

(on the left side)

  1. Get into Lizard position
  2. Place 1 or 2 block(s) under your left foot
  3. Move back and up with hips
  4. Take your left arm underneath your left leg and grab your ankle or the block with your hand
  5. Place your forehead on a block (try 3rd or highest height of the block)

Along with the setup of the posture, it’s the following 3 actions that promote increased flexibility and range of motion in hips:

  1. Pull your front heel down and back
  2. Widen left buttock out to the left
  3. Squeeze front shin in

Activating these muscles until you feel like there is no more stretch sensation left is the signal that it may be ok to explore going deeper into the posture. In these instances, going slowly in order to stay safe will increase compliance of the tissues, making the goal of increased hip mobility a reality.

Matt also suggests that you go several rounds on each side to really prepare. Adding in a little gentle movement within the posture, to become aware of the sensations, can also be extremely helpful.

ADDITIONAL ACTIONS FOR DEEPER HIP OPENING

In order to take your experience even further, Matt recommends some additional actions:

  1. Your back leg can maneuver around in order to accommodate the front leg; maybe the back knee more in line with the left knee will allow for movement back for a deeper hamstring stretch. It’s important to be aware of the sensations in the knee. If your front knee feels off, then back off of the straightening
  2. Pressing the front foot forward activates the quadriceps
  3. Pressing hamstrings and sit bones apart might give more range of motion (although pressing the heel down and back are the main actions) 

    Explore one action at a time so as not to be overwhelmed with all of the possibilities. This approach also allows you to come into a fuller understanding of how each action feels in your own body. 

    Sensations may be different within a given practice, which is why moving mindfully is essential.

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    UNRAVEL YOUR POTENTIAL

    Leg Over Head preparation does not have to be intimidating. It’s a posture you can get excited about because there are so many techniques and variations to explore. Turn towards what you initially may have wanted to resist. You may surprise yourself with the breakthrough that’s on the other side.

    Register for Matt’s upcoming Hip Mobility immersion in order to unravel your potential.

    See you on the mat!

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    Article by Trish Curling

    Video Extracted From: Hips & Hamstrings

    CHOOSE YOUR PATH

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    Fire Hydrant Pose: Hip Technique

    Fire Hydrant Pose: Hip Technique

    Stability & Mobility Unleashed

    hip mobility

    FIRE HYDRANT POSE: HIP TECHNIQUE

    Part of the equation for improved function and mobility of the hips is building and creating strength, but first you have to understand how to actually do so. It’s not just about knowing which postures to include in your physical yoga practice; it’s really about the execution. Understanding how to implement specific anatomical techniques will help you go beyond what you may believe your body is capable of. This Fire Hydrant Pose hip technique is the perfect example of how to more fully understand your body and know exactly how to unleash stability and mobility in your hips.

     

    Online Yoga for Hip Openers and Flexibility

    HIP MOBILITY

    October 2022 Immersion

    • Strengthen and lengthen your hips
    • Increase active and passive range of motion
    • Learn anatomical techniques to improve functionality
    • Access a wider range of seated postures and hip openers
    • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
    • Lifetime unlimited access to all
    • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that’s convenient for you

    $148.00

    MORE INFORMATION

    HIP ABDUCTION

    There are 4 main muscles that work together to create hip abduction, which is what creates the shape of Fire Hydrant Pose. These muscles are the tensor fasciae latae (TFL) and the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. It’s not as simple as just lifting your leg away from your midline. Lateral rotation of the hip also plays a significant role in unlocking the strength that creates increased stability and mobility in the hips. In order to more deeply grasp this, we must understand a few things.

    In the posture itself, we maximize its benefits by executing specific articulations. Knowing the anatomy is extremely helpful because you get a better mental picture of what is happening as you are engaging in these movements/articulations. This strengthens the neuromuscular connection.

    WATCH THE VIDEO: FIRE HYDRANT POSE: HIP TECHNIQUE

    CONCENTRIC VS. ISOMETRIC CONTRACTION

    The action of lifting one leg out to the side (abduction) in Fire Hydrant Pose creates a concentric contraction in the glute muscles. A concentric contraction causes muscles to shorten through movement. In a different way, this is also happening in the standing leg: In this case, it’s the lateral tilt of the pelvis. Although the standing leg is fixed, in order to get a greater range of motion in the lifted leg, the “hugging in” of the hip of the standing leg also creates a shortening of the glute muscles. Once you are fixed in your variation of the posture, maintaining the contractions/activations without movement is what creates an isometric contraction. This sets the foundation for stability, but how can you take it to the next level?

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    HIP STABILITY

    The gluteus maximus and TFL attach to the iliotibial band, and when they co-activate, they help to abduct the hip joint. This doesn’t discount the other muscles that contribute here; glute medius and minimus also play a major role. These muscles are known as the abductor group, but they also stabilize the pelvis. For stability to occur, there must be an equal or balanced amount of co-activation from the muscles that surround the hip.  

    You’ll see in today’s video the specific anatomical techniques and articulations that Matt takes you through so as to take this experience to the next level.

    FIRE HYDRANT POSE PREPARATION

    Here are the steps:

    1. Bend your knees like in Chair Pose and place your hands on your right knee
    2. Hips go back, and bum tilts up
    3. Left foot out to the side, turning thigh bone in (internal rotation)
    4. Keep internal rotation and lift up through the heel (more concentric contraction is occurring to lift the left leg; once static, you are in isometric contraction)
    5. Meanwhile, squeeze right hip in (the abductors of the right hip are activating to allow the pelvis to open up)

    It’s the internal rotation that helps to activate the TFL. When your upper thigh bone is internally rotated, you can more easily lift through your heels. This is how to execute the co-activation that’s so important in creating more integrity and health in your hip joint. You’re now recruiting more muscle groups that surround the hip in order to create more stability. Increased hip stability (along with flexibility) establishes increased hip mobility.

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    • Improve mobility and stability
    • Get VERY geeky

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    HIP MOBILITY

    This Fire Hydrant Pose hip technique gives you an opportunity to flex your “hip mobility muscles.” Mobility is the ability to find better range in the joint with more control and strength, and these techniques provide just that. Better hip mobility means better function in your everyday life. In the context of your yoga practice, this means greater confidence on your mat during transitions and the execution of specific postures.  

    In Matt’s Hip Mobility immersion, you’ll come away with a better understanding of your hips and of what you need to focus on specifically in your yoga practice to take you to new heights.

    See you on the mat!

    The 200 Hr. Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

    The 300 Hr. Advanced Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

    Article by Trish Curling

    Video Extracted From: Anatomy In Motion Immersion

    CHOOSE YOUR PATH

    NEXT TRAINING BEGINS FEBRUARY 2024 ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN!
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    Continue Learning

    Hanumanasana Hints

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    Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

    read more
    Chin Stand

    Chin Stand

    Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

    read more
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    read more
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    read more
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    read more

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