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Step-By-Step Breakdown: Full Split

The Easy Way to Do the Splits

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The full split, or hanumanasana, is a hard position to master, and it's one that doesn't come easily to a lot of people. It's named after Hanuman, the Hindu deity who is said to have taken a giant leap all the way from the south of India to the Himalayas to reclaim his love (hence the wide-open stance of your legs in this pose). Follow these simple steps and stretches, and soon you'll be ready to take the leap too. Have fun!

A word of caution: Your hamstrings are strong, but delicate creatures, and a tear can take more than two years to fully recover. As with all of our yoga pose breakdowns, take this one step and breath at a time. Never attempt a full split without warming your body up first.

RELATED: Step-By-Step Breakdown: Compass-Arm Balance

 

Prep Pose: Low Lunge

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Begin in down dog. From there, step right foot forward between hands, then tap left knee down until it touches the ground. Be sure to keep right foot in line over right ankle. When you feel ready, crawl hands up onto thigh. Breathe here for 5 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Prep Pose: Single-Leg Forward Bend

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Begin in down dog. Round right knee to nose and step right foot between hands for a low lunge. (If you have tight hamstrings, place blocks under your hands.) Lift hips up and lengthen both legs. Spin back heel down so that foot is at a 45-degree angle. Square off hips and breathe here for at least 5 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Prep Pose: Seated Forward Fold

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Sit with legs extended together in front of you and lean forward as much or as little as feels good on your legs and lower back. The goal here is not to touch your toes, but to find length and extension in your spine and open your legs. Allow head and neck to relax. Stay here for 5 deep breaths.

Prep Pose: Runner's Lunge

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From a low lunge position with right leg forward, tap left knee down to the floor and reach hips back toward left heel as you lengthen right leg. Try to relax and fold over right thigh. If this is too intense on your hamstring, bend your knee until your muscles can relax. You can also place blocks under your hands if the floor feels too far away. Breathe here for 5 deep breaths. Repeat with left leg forward.

Pose Modification: Splits with 2 Blocks

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Begin in low lunge with right foot forward and hands on blocks. Release left knee to the ground. Walk hands back with the blocks as you reach hips back toward left heel and lengthen right leg to runner's lunge. Breathe here and slide right heel forward as much as feels comfortable. Breathe here at least 5 deep breaths. Come out of the pose slowly and repeat on the other side.
 

Pose Modification: Splits with 1 Block

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Similar to the previous pose, begin in low lunge with right foot forward. Release left knee to the ground. Walk hands back as you reach hips back toward left heel and lengthen right leg to runner's lunge. (Fingertips can be tented on the ground for extra space.) Breathe here and slide right heel forward as much as feels comfortable. Take a block of any height and place underneath right thigh above the knee, making sure to breathe comfortably. Breathe here at least 5 deep breaths. Come out of the pose slowly and repeat on the other side.

Full Split

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Begin in low lunge with right foot forward. Release left knee to ground. Walk hands back as you reach hips back toward left heel and lengthen right leg to runner's lunge. Breathe here and slide right heel forward as much as feels comfortable. Eventually your hips will release to the ground with square hips. Breathe here at least 5 deep breaths. Come out of the pose slowly and repeat on the other side.