Hips & Hanumanasana

Hips & Hanumanasana

splits

HIPS & HANUMANASANA

What a posture! Hanumanasana is such a beautiful expression of what is possible in our physical yoga practice. However, it’s not about “achieving” Hanumanasana but about the exploration of what is possible in terms of hip mobility and what we learn from the preparation for the posture. 

When we practice with Matt, we learn about the “4 quadrants of the hips.” Some areas of the hips may receive more attention than others, so it’s vital we pay attention to all areas. This will allow us to boost our ability to attain better hip mobility overall. The four quadrants are the following: 

  1. Front: hip flexors and quadriceps
  2. Back: buttock muscles (gluteus maximus and piriformis)
  3. Inside: adductors (longus, brevis, magnus)
  4. Outside: abductors (gluteus minimus, medius, and TFL)

When we understand what they are, we can focus on what to do. Strengthening (“the squeeze”) will ultimately allow us to expand, that is, increase flexibility in Hanumanasana.

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HIP & PELVIC DRILLS

Crescent Pose with Pelvic Articulations

In the video, Matt layers in movements of the pelvis with a facilitated stretch in Crescent Pose. We see how the articulations (anterior and posterior tilts of the pelvis) offer different sensations. What remains constant is the pushing down of the ball mound of the back foot and the heel of the front foot, combined with the action of “dragging” the feet to opposite ends of the mat, which is the “squeeze” in. The hip flexor muscles of the back leg and the hamstrings of the front leg fire up, preparing us for Splits.

Hip-Flexor Block Drill

Activating the hip flexors is the goal here. Drills like these are very humbling! It may be much more challenging than it appears. With the use of blocks, we’re hiking the hip of one leg up, while squeezing the foot of  the same leg forward to touch the yoga block.  

WATCH THE VIDEO

HIPS & HANUMANASANA: SQUEEZE IN TO EXPAND OUT

ARDHA HANUMANASANA

Ardha Hanumanasana provides a great opportunity to explore and activate the inner and outer hip muscles. This is important because it supports our ability to maintain a more neutral hip position in Hanumanasana. We may be tempted to veer towards a more open pelvic position as a way of compensating for a lack of control or strength. When we strive for a more balanced strength in all 4 quadrants of the hips, we can benefit from a safer alignment for our bodies in the posture. In the video, we see how the “windshield wiper” action of the front leg helps to activate the inner and outer hip muscles. Matt then takes the drills to the next level and offers additional variations that once again ignite the hip flexors and the hamstrings.

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STANDING SPLITS AT THE WALL

In the video, Matt points out that this variation of Hanumanasana shows us where we have the most challenges. Without the floor underneath us, it invites us to be more aware of our alignment.  

The variations in the video also offer some fun play with strength. Standing Splits can become more of a Warrior 3–like position: Because the top leg is straight, we have the option to press that foot into a wall.  Next, we press down into blocks underneath our hands in order to lift the bottom foot off of the ground and squeeze towards the blocks. Again, the hip flexors (which may sometimes be neglected) are strengthened here. Strengthening the hip flexors keeps them safe in the back leg and takes some of the strain off the hamstrings in the front leg in Hanumanasana.

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HANUMANASANA!

There is an exclamation mark after Hanumanasana, because what a posture it is! It definitely makes its own statement, and, as we’ve learned, the required strength is the safest path to greater lengthening and flexibility. We contract in order to expand. It’s easy to be intimidated by this posture, but if we are patient and consistent with building strength, we can reap the benefits of flexibility over time. Applying the techniques offered in the video can help promote greater access.

Register for Matt’s next workshop, Hip Release, to learn more about the 4 quadrants of the hips and how to apply techniques that will improve hip health and mobility.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Hips & Hamstrings

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Supine Standing Splits

Supine Standing Splits

Boost Your Hamstring Flexibility

strength & flexibility

SUPINE STANDING SPLITS

Tight hamstrings are a common complaint, right? They may be showing up by way of limitations in various yoga postures and/or in restrictions in the way you move in your daily life. If you’ve been practicing with Matt for some time, then you’re well aware that to increase flexibility, you need to factor strength into the mix. Additionally, you can figure on the quality of the time spent in specific postures—the utilization of specific techniques. The deepening of the neuromuscular connection takes place when you’re very intentional with your execution. Supine Standing Splits offers time to explore specific techniques in an accessible way. Today, Matt shares these techniques, along with other postures and their techniques, to prepare you for greater potential in Supine Standing Splits and eventually for the balanced variation of the posture.

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THE SPLITS

  • Improve flexibility of hamstrings, adductors, hip flexors, and glutes
  • Hanumanasana Splits
  • Center Splits
  • Vishvamitrasana
  • Standing Splits / Ekapadasana
  • Extended Side Plank / Vashisthasana
  • Straddle entries for inversions, with modifications for all levels
  • Moderate Vinyasa style with alignment, technique, and biomechanics
  • Sequences are anatomically informed and carefully crafted
  • 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

PYRAMID STRETCH

First, the actions taken in this variation of a “Pyramid stretch” for the hamstrings offer an array of techniques for you to experiment with. It’s imperative to pay attention to the details. What’s comforting is that Matt offers very clear and explicit instruction. He starts off with a dorsiflexion of the front foot, which deepens the stretch sensation. Along with this lengthening, an important action is the tucking of the sit bone. Next, pressing down the front heel into the mat begins to incorporate the facilitated stretch (the strength component). This action is also important in minimizing the potential for injury by making the hamstring attachment at the sit bone less vulnerable. In the video, you’ll see the other options as regards the “direction of push.” Playing with diagonal activations targets other areas of the hamstrings and adductors.

WATCH THE VIDEO

SUPINE STANDING SPLITS: BOOST YOUR HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITY

SEATED HAMSTRING STRETCH

Next, the Seated Hamstring Stretch in the video starts to take on more of the qualities of Supine Standing Splits. A more accurate description of this stretch includes the fact that the leg is lifted while you move your head towards the knee or shin. This action mimics the standing leg in the upright version of standing splits. This variation potentially allows for deeper hip flexion than Supine Standing Splits because, as you draw your leg towards your face, you are not limited by the floor beneath you; as you hold your foot, you can pull your elbows back further than what may be available to you when you’re lying on your mat. That being said, exploring this variation can still be revaling as to what’s available to you in regard to hip flexion and hamstring flexibility. Even more telling is when you release the grip of your foot to reveal your level of active flexibility versus passive flexibility.

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HAMSTRING SLIDE DRILL

Before diving into Supine Standing Splits, Matt offers a drill to encourage the refining of strength in your hamstrings and glutes. If you’re ever unsure if you are doing enough to strengthen your hamstrings, you won’t be mistaken with this drill.  It—is—intense!  

At first, trying it out without wearing socks will remove some of the sliding component (Matt is wearing socks in the video). This does not necessarily make the drill easier, but it may help you feel connected to the strength required for the progressions. Matt compares this drill to Bridge Pose, but one of the major differences is that you keep your legs as straight as possible. This action will ignite your hamstrings as your feet attempt to slide toward your upper body. Comparatively, wearing socks in order to build upon the drill will increase the slide and therefore the contraction in your hamstrings and glutes.

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POSSIBILITY AFTER PREPARATION

Finally, your body is more primed and ready for Supine Standing Splits after all that’s been explored. There’s a sense of freedom and possibility that carries into the pose. That lifted leg again utilizes techniques from Seated Hamstring Stretch, but with more strength from the slides. Straightening your bottom leg, with a very slight lift away from the floor, will also activate your core. Being on your back for this posture doesn’t mean that it’s more relaxed but instead allows for time spent activating your body while focusing on deep hip flexion and nurturing increased hamstring flexibility.

To conclude, greater preparation only elevates your potential. You can explore more drills and techniques like this in Matt’s current Splits Immersion.

See you on the mat!

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Video Extracted From: The Splits

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
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  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
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Strengthen For Splits

Strengthen for Splits

Variations for Increased Flexiblity

hanumanasana

STRENGTHEN FOR SPLITS

If the Splits (Hanumanasana) had a personality, it might be one of the most vocal in the room. Aesthetically, it’s quite bold. The shape of the posture makes it evident that it requires a great deal of flexibility. In order to acquire the right amount of flexibility, you must strengthen for Splits. But if flexibility means to lengthen muscles and strengthening contracts muscles, how is this approach effective? In today’s video, Matt shares how employing techniques such as the facilitated stretch help increase flexibility while strengthening. Not only do you prepare your body more effectively for flexibility, but you also bring your body closer to balance. Because Splits is a deep posture, you need to be shrewd in your approach. As always, Matt offers cues that are both intricate and systematic, allowing you to safely explore while increasing your flexibility at the same time. 

lotus pose online yoga classes

THE SPLITS

  • Improve flexibility of hamstrings, adductors, hip flexors, and glutes
  • Hanumanasana Splits
  • Center Splits
  • Vishvamitrasana
  • Standing Splits / Ekapadasana
  • Extended Side Plank / Vashisthasana
  • Straddle entries for inversions, with modifications for all levels
  • Moderate Vinyasa style with alignment, technique, and biomechanics
  • Sequences are anatomically informed and carefully crafted
  • 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

FACILITATED STRETCH

First, what is a facilitated stretch? If you’ve been practicing with Matt for some time, you’ll know that this is a technique that he frequently utilizes in his classes. This is because it allows you to build strength and flexibility at the same time. A facilitated stretch occurs when a muscle is engaged while in a lengthened position. It’s essentially a conversation that takes place from the brain to the muscle and the Golgi tendon organ, which sends a message back to the brain about the amount of tension that’s taking place. When that happens, the brain recognizes the amount of engagement and sends a message back to the body to release the tension in the muscle. Instead of forcing a stretch, your body recognizes that it is in control and therefore safe to respond in kind when flexibility is required.  

WATCH THE VIDEO

STRENGTHEN FOR SPLITS: 2 VARIATIONS FOR INCREASED FLEXIBILITY

VARIATION 1: PUSH, PULL, TURN

To strengthen for Splits, it’s important to know the end range of your flexibility. Pull back from where you normally settle into as you set up this variation, so as to successfully implement a facilitated stretch. Being able to strengthen for Splits means moving away from your tendencies. As you’ll see in the video, there are opportunities to “push, pull, and turn” within your exploration. These actions will both change the level of sensation you experience and inform your next steps. For example, turning your pelvis closed might increase a sensation that provides the opportunity for you to press your front heel down and forward while pulling your back knee forward. These actions create a facilitated stretch for the hamstring in the front leg and the hip flexors of the back leg.

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

  • Deepen your yoga practice
  • Build confidence speaking in front of groups in person and online
  • Learn foundational class structures and templates
  • Learn techniques for a wide range of yoga postures
  • Get certified and highly qualified to teach yoga
  • Yoga Alliance Globally Recognized Certification Program
  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

VARIATION 2: LEAN IN

Now, in the 2nd variation, the key action that gets layered on is to lean forward. Even though more flexibility in the hamstrings is required here, you are still working to develop their flexibility even further. Again, Matt encourages you to work at roughly 60%–70% of your end range. The act of leaning forward demands more of the hamstrings of the front leg, so continue to check in with what depth is appropriate. While you can begin to lean into more of a stretch sensation by going a bit deeper (once you’ve strengthened), going deeper does not mean that you compromise strength and integrity. If you notice a laxity in some areas of your Splits, you can do things like curl your back toes under. This keeps the pelvis closed and maintains more activation in the hip flexors of your back leg.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

Master your skill set as a teacher through refined techniques, anatomy, biomechanics, sequencing, philosophy, meditation techniques, theming, yoga business, and much more!

  • Get 500 hour certified
  • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
  • Expand your teaching skills
  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
  • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
  • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang
  • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1

CARVE A NEW PATH

An intense posture like Splits will really speak to you. It will expose your tendencies, which may be hard to face. Often, the familiar path is to lean into the areas that feel open. But in order to strengthen for Splits, it’s imperative that you lean into the more “challenging” areas within the posture. Pushing beyond your limits is not the answer here; what is meant is that moving carefully minimizes the risk of injury. When this happens, you will not only come closer to the posture in the short term but also develop more balance in your body in the long term.

Matt’s Splits Immersion will guide you in creating “intelligent flexibility” in your hamstrings, adductors, hip flexors, and glutes. Carving a new path and creating new patterns means more confidence in how your body moves, both on and off 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: Mobility Immersion

Yoga for Core and Breathwork

BREATH OF FIRE

  • Moderate Vinyasa-style classes
  • Core strengthening & integration
  • Master your breath with pranayama practices
  • Access your core in arm balances, heart openers, twists, forward folds, inversions, and more
  • Learn where and how to breathe in challenging postures
  • Each class will include one pranayama (breathwork practice) and several core strengtheners
  • Access your core muscles: deep, superficial, anterior, posterior, and lateral 
  • 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

Continue Learning

Hip Opening Without Knee Pain

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read more
Strengthen Your Ankles

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Strengthen Your Anklesfoot healthSTRENGTHEN YOUR ANKLES Our feet are the foundation of our bodies. Placing great emphasis on creating ankle stability and mobility during our asana practice should be obvious; unfortunately, this is not always the case. Maintaining a...

read more
Yoga Props & Your Practice

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Yoga Props and Your PracticealignmentYOGA PROPS AND YOUR PRACTICE When it comes to incorporating yoga props into our yoga practice, we can take 1 of 2 paths. We either subscribe to the notion that if we use props, we are somehow “less capable” than others in the...

read more
Titibhasana Techniques

Titibhasana Techniques

Titibhasana Techniquesfirefly poseTITIBHASANA TECHNIQUES There are some general rules to follow when executing arm balance postures. To find optimal balance, most require us not to shy away from leaning forward. They also demand a considerable degree of upper body...

read more
Air Line Activation

Air Line Activation

Air Line Activationback strengthAIR LINE ACTIVATION Finding ways to effectively strengthen the back in our yoga practice can be a challenge. If our goal is to cultivate strength in this area of the body, we must understand that it requires more than just adding...

read more
Double Stag Handstand

Double Stag Handstand

Double Stag HandstandbalanceDOUBLE STAG HANDSTAND Cultivating confidence is a non-negotiable when it comes to implementing a handstand practice. If handstands seem insurmountable even to consider, don’t fret; there might be an easier option. Easier? Really? Yes!  Ok,...

read more

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When You Subscribe, You Will Get Instant Access to

  • the Technique Pack: 15 yoga pose breakdowns
  • exclusive online course discounts
  • exclusive blogs and videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

SHORTEN TO LENGTHEN YOUR STANDING SPLITS

SHORTEN TO LENGTHEN YOUR STANDING SPLITS 

INCREASE FLEXIBILITY WITH THIS TECHNIQUE

HANUMANASANA

SHORTEN TO LENGTHEN

What does shorten to lengthen your standing splits even mean? Does that even make sense? At first thought it may seem counterintuitive that if you want to increase your flexibility, you need to shorten. What we’re talking about is shortening muscles in order to find greater length in your hamstrings for this posture. There is a specific technique that supports your ability to increase your flexibility, all while building strength and integrity in standing splits.

PASSIVE VS. ACTIVE STRETCHING

Any variation of splits requires a great deal of flexibility, and because lengthening muscles is non-negotiable to execute this posture, a common go-to strategy in your yoga practice may be to select postures and techniques that passively assist you in this endeavor. This passive assistance might involve using a yoga strap, a wall, and/or the floor to sink into the forces of gravity. These can be effective stretching methods at various times, but if you’re interested not only in lengthening but in the overall health of the muscles that are lengthening, then please introduce yourself to the concept of a Facilitated Stretch (more on this in a bit). This technique asks you to shorten in order to lengthen. A facilitated stretch requires you to be a more active participant in creating stronger and healthier flexibility in your body.

 

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FLEXIBILITY? STRENGTH? or BOTH?

In order to achieve standing splits, there must be a level of flexibility in your hamstrings, adductor magnus, and the hip flexors. There must also be an awareness around the movement of your pelvis. However, an element that often gets overlooked is the fact that a great deal of strength is required for the posture. 

When preparing for standing splits, Matt explains that the goal is to keep the hamstrings engaged through the entire range of motion. How is this possible? This is where the awareness of the articulation of your pelvis is key. In the video, Matt demonstrates the importance of slowing the tipping of the pelvis on the way down and also tucking the sit bone of the standing leg downwards (this will create more of a posterior tilt of the pelvis).

The rest of the body should stay in one piece to ensure that the movement is occurring from the hamstrings of the standing leg—everywhere else is stable and immobile. This may take some time, due to the patterns you may have created in your body.

WATCH THE VIDEO: SHORTEN TO LENGTHEN YOUR STANDING SPLITS

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NEXT TRAINING BEGINS FEBRUARY 2024 ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN!

YOUR BODY’S TENDENCIES

Our bodies just love the familiar, so it will take an incredible amount of focus and awareness in order to go into the places in your body that require more length and strength. This is in fact how you will unlock the posture. You will not only achieve the aesthetic of the posture but also move in the direction of better balance in your body. This also means a reduced risk of injury. Matt always encourages a more intelligent and methodical approach to your practice as a whole, but this method must also be applied as you approach each posture. 

No matter your approach, Splits, Standing Splits, Hanumanasana are very demanding and deep postures that may put you at a higher risk, so the activation of muscles is key. This brings us back to the concept of a Facilitated Stretch. What is it, and how is it implemented?

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ONLINE YOGA IMMERSION

  • Key techniques to increase flexibility
  • Strength development for mobility and range of motion
  • Learn postures: Hanumanasana (Splits), Extended Side Plank
  • Active and passive mobility for shoulders, hips, and spine
  • Improve spinal twists, heart openers, shoulder openers, and hip openers
  • Find greater ease in seated postures
  • Improve mobility and posture off the mat
  • When and how to do active, passive, and isometric stretching

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FACILITATED STRETCH

If you’re just starting your journey of practicing with Matt, please believe me when I say that you will become the best of pals with this concept. Is it challenging at times? YES, YES, and YES I said that multiple times, but is it effective? YES, YES, and YES again!

A facilitated stretch is when a muscle is engaged while it is in a lengthened position. We have something called Golgi tendon organs which communicate muscle tension back to the brain. When a muscle is both engaged and lengthened, the brain will receive that information and will in turn send a signal back to the muscle that it is safe, therefore allowing it to lengthen more. This is in fact the key to the development of increased flexibility. This is also in fact extremely effective for those of you who may be hypermobile. It creates a sense of control and awareness around your end ranges in a particular posture. We have the ability to facilitate this tension by the articulations we might create with, for example, an action of the pelvis and/or the directional pull of a particular joint against a surface, prop, or other part of our body. Staying closer to a safer amount of activation usually means placing roughly about 20% of effort (or less) into the activation. At the root of it all is your breath, so keep this in mind as we look at the steps Matt provides in order to set up Standing Splits at the wall.  

STANDING SPLITS AT THE WALL

  1. Use hands as a base of support
  2. Look towards the wall
  3. Lift right heel (shortens the back line)
  4. Turn pelvis closed and turn inner heel of the lifted leg to the sky
  5. Straighten through inner heel of the lifted leg to the sky
  6. Lower heel of the standing leg back down
  7. Lean more into fingers and toes as top leg is straightened

*Here’s the opportunity to tap into the facilitated stretch of the standing leg:

8.  Standing leg (in this case the right leg) is not passive—microtuck the sit bone down towards your heel so that the hamstrings are engaged

If it feels like you’re strengthening rather than stretching, then you’re on the right track. This is in fact the sensation of a facilitated stretch and what actually increases your flexibility. Rather than causing alarm to your body, it will feel safe to release and lengthen.

A DIRECT LINK TO HANDSTAND

Safety breeds confidence, and the beautiful thing about incorporating techniques like a facilitated stretch into your yoga practice is that you feel both prepared and confident to explore a variety of postures. This exploration allows space for you to work towards postures that may feel “intimidating” or even “inaccessible.”  

The specific techniques that Matt has demonstrated for Standing Splits create a direct link to Handstand. The direct link comes from what is required in regard to the setup. Getting into Handstand from the ground up requires a great deal of flexibility and strength. You can find out more about the crossover between these two postures in Matt’s current immersion, Handstand & Meditation.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Mobility Immersion

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