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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  • 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
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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

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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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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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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

CHOOSE YOUR PATH

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read more

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  • the Technique Pack: 15 yoga pose breakdowns
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  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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