Achieving a full split in yoga is one of those pinnacle sort of postures that really illustrates years of hard work and dedication within the yoga practice. Although, sometimes, it can also just mean that you’re super flexible. You never really know.
For most of us, we need to put in a lot of time, energy, and hard work into achieving splits pose in yoga. This is why full split becomes a goal of so many yogis, because it requires consistent practice, patience, and challenge.
If you’ve taken my Journey To Splits series, then you know that as you work your way into full splits, there are many other deep hip opening split yoga poses you can practice along the way. Adding in split yoga poses into your practice can help the full split feel a little less intimidating, as well as open up your mind to the true capability of your body.
Today I’m sharing a roundup of my favorite split yoga poses you can start adding into your yoga practice, or your stretching routine, so that you can get closer to achieving your full split in no time!
11 Yoga Split Poses
Full Splits in yoga is otherwise known as Hanumanasana, or Monkey Pose in English. Most of the time when people think of the splits in yoga, they think of the traditional full split yoga pose where you’re flat as a pancake on the ground, right?
Yes, this is one option for a splits yoga pose. But the truth is, there are many shapes that have the splits other than the full splits themselves.
This collection of yoga split poses is ordered from most accessible, to most challenging, and will end with the grand finale of front splits and middle splits.
Remember, if you need to warm up your hips before jumping into the more challenging shapes, then you can always try my No Time For Yoga series on my app, which provides a variety of 15 minute classes for all parts of the body.
Dragonfly is the Yin name for this beginner level pose. It’s otherwise known as Seated Wide Legged Forward Fold, or simply Straddle in non-Yin classes.
The best way to prepare for this pose is to make sure your hamstrings are open and warm. And to make sure you have yoga blocks ready to use under your knees if you’re tight in the back of your legs.
Don’t forget that you’re in control of the pose! This means, if you’re feeling a lot of resistance in your inner hips, then you can keep your legs closer together, so that your legs extend in front more than they do out to the side.
For more mellow yoga poses, check out Wall Yoga Poses HERE.
Extended Happy Baby
Extended Happy Baby is another beginner-level pose that’s super helpful to practice when you’re working into full splits. Because it works on opening the inner hips and lengthening the hamstrings while staying reclined.
In order to best prepare for this pose, ensure that your entire back is flat to the mat. Once you grab your feet, if you notice your low back or shoulders start to lift, walk your hands down your legs away from your feet to keep your back flat, instead.
If it feels like too much to extended both legs at the same time, then you can always practice Reclined Hand To Big Toe Pose, instead, as this position only straightens one leg out to the side at a time.
Half Split is a beginner level pose that is one of the best shapes to practice for full splits pose due to the similarities between the two.
This pose targets lengthening the hamstring of the front leg (this is the leg extended forward). Remember to lengthen your spine in this position. Which means your low back stays long and flat, rather than hunching over.
If you feel that the ground is super far away from you, causing your back to round, then place your hands on yoga blocks to bring the ground closer to you as you extend your tailbone behind you to your back heel.
For those of you with sensitivity in your grounded knee, use a folder blanket under your knee. Or just double up your yoga mat for more padding and support.
Three Legged Dog
Three Legged Dog is a beginner-level pose that starts to pick up the heat in the hips, hamstrings, and hips flexors. Plus, you’re adding in the element of balance, and calling on the core to keep you stable.
It’s best to practice this yoga pose once you’ve already had a bit of a warm up. But you can still incorporate this pose in the beginning portion of your class. You’ll notice your depth increase each time you do it.
Remember to try to keep your hips as square as possible, rather than letting your top hip open out to the side. You’ll also want your upper body engaged, keeping the shoulders square to the ground, as well.
Three Legged Dolphin
Three Legged Dolphin is similar to Three Legged Downward Facing Dog. But helps to cultivate even more strength in the chest and shoulders, while increasing flexibility in the hamstrings and hips.
Imagine you’re starting with your right leg lifted first. Now look at your left leg with your eyes to ensure your left knee cap is pointing forward rather than torquing out to the side.
To learn more about Dolphin Pose, check out this post HERE.
Standing Splits is an intermediate-level posture that blends strength, balance, and flexibility altogether. This pose is best done after a slight warm up of the hips, hamstrings, and legs.
When you’re practicing Standing Splits, do your best to keep your hips as square as possible. Rather than letting your top hip flare out to the side.
Imagine you can hug your inner thighs in towards one another by squeezing your glutes. This will help to create more activation, rather than passive flexibility.
Extended Side Plank
Extended Side Plank is an intermediate-level pose that brings a fun upper body strengthening element into a very bendy shape.
This pose is best practiced after a warm up, especially targeting balance, shoulder strength, hip and hamstring opening.
Don’t forget that you can always modify by grabbing the underside of your top thigh. Rather than hooking your big toe with your peace fingers. Keeping the top leg bent will also make the pose more accessible to those with tighter hips and hamstrings.
Ended Camel is similar to Extended Side Plank in that it’s an intermediate-level pose, as well as the position itself. However, many people find this pose slightly more challenging. That’s because it opens deeper into the hip flexor of the grounded knee.
Although this pose requires less balance and strength than Extended Side Plank. Because it has a knee on the ground, it also require more flexibility.
If the extension of your top leg feels impossible, then grab behind your thigh rather than your big toe. And bend more into your knee.
Straddle Inversions are advanced level poses that can show up in a variety of ways. My favorite way to add a straddle into my inversion practice is in Handstand. But you can certainly try it on with Headstand or Forearm Stand, as well.
This pose is best practiced after you’ve already had a warm up of the wrists, shoulders, hips, and hamstrings.
Adding a straddle in your inversion practice can help you to find your balance more easily than a straight line inversion. As the weight of your legs on either side can help you find your center point more easily.
Front Splits are an advanced level yoga pose that is best done after an extensive warm up of the inner hips, hip flexors, and hamstrings.
Don’t forget that your yoga blocks are there for you when it comes time to try on your full splits! Check out this pose HERE to understand the different options for using yoga blocks in your full splits.
You’re working to bring your knees away from one another, in order to draw your groin closer to the ground. That means you’ll want to push forward with your front foot as much as you tug back with your back foot, in order to get an even split.
Middle Splits is another advanced level posture that is best practiced after a complete warm-up of the inner and outer hips. As well as the hamstrings and low back.
This pose doesn’t target the hips flexors as much as the Front Splits option of full splits does. But many people still find Middle Splits to be more challenging. Especially when it comes to keeping the kneecaps pointing skyward!
You can always take your time in Dragonfly Pose, before rocking the hips up to stack with the knees in full Middle Splits if your hips need more time to open.
Let me know which yoga pose is your favorite one to help get you into your full splits from the list above!