Wouldn’t it be awesome if you slip on a banana peel and land in perfect splits!! I know, I envisage weird scenarios.
The only other thing that I have always wanted to do, apart from being an astronaut, is a side-split. It’s a little late for former I believe, neither do I have the brains. But for latter, I still have time.
Last year around this month, somehow ideas got into my head that maybe… even if teeny weeny… there’s a possibility that I might be able to do splits. I am a 30 something woman who was never into gymnastics, neither am I employed in a job that involves much movement, apart from the usual bathroom breaks. So doing splits would be like a lifetime achievement for me, second only to handstands.
And so, before the new year dawned, a journey began. I hunted down every single video on YouTube, pins on pinterest and instagram posts, to get me started on this mission. Let me tell you, things get very competitive when there are tiny ballet dancers who land in splits like their legs are made of jelly, while you are stuck in a weird position and have to call the husband for help.
In the first week I pushed myself so much that the top of my left knee started to hurt. I then had to take a step back and ponder over why I am doing this? Who I am doing this for? It’s when I realised that all this is fun and there’s no need to get disappointed even when others have better success stories than mine, I actually started to enjoy this process.
Splits need a lot of warmup and stretching. If you are a beginner like me, I will not suggest going into a split straight away. Prepare your body by doing some stretch, both light and intense. I feel Butterfly pose is a great starting point.
Here’s a list of poses that I do before going into split position.
Lunge – I hold them for 20 seconds to a minute. And repeat a couple of times.
This is an excellent side stretch. Sometimes I have to remind myself to go only as far as possible and not to be too ambitious.
Pyramid pose is an intense side stretch done with hands on the floor. It stretches the spine, back and hips and strengthens the legs.
Forward folds are just as important as any other stretch. I do both the standing and sitting versions and hold them as long as I can.
Pigeon poses are great for tight hips. They stretch the front of the thigh, also called hip flexors. After a pigeon pose, I like to get into a Mermaid pose, which helps in strengthening the back and stretches the legs further.
If you practice regularly you are more likely to reach your goals in a shorter time. I don’t do splits everyday and switch between doing cardio, weights and Yoga. But still, the difference I have noticed over a period of time is huge.
To get into splits, I go into a lunge, and then place the yoga block under my leg such that when I extend the front leg, the block is supporting my thigh.
This is where I am at, just a block away from the floor.
Somethings to remember :
Don’t lock the knee. Feeling a bit of soreness in the hamstrings is normal, but if you feel pain or discomfort in the knee, then stop immediately and adjust your position.
Use blocks, blankets, pillows or take the support of the wall. This will help you in properly aligning your body.
Calm your mind. Your body needs to relax in a split position. I learnt this very late in my journey but it is an important factor to improve splits. Stretch till the point when you feel you can hold the position, and then stay there for few seconds, breathing regularly and tricking the body into thinking that this is a normal position (that actually is really really difficult )😀
I haven’t reached my goal yet. And if I slip on a banana peel, I am more likely to end up with broken teeth rather than a split. But hopefully I will be able to tick this goal by next year. (Fingers crossed)
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