How to Do a Vertical Standing Split

Vertical standing splits, or Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana, are challenging yoga poses. Gymnasts and dancers also perform these splits in order to be able to lift their legs higher in arabesque. While you do not have to be able to do a 180-degree front split before attempting the standing splits, your hamstrings need to be flexible enough to allow you to bend over and touch the floor with your legs straight.

Stand in the middle of the floor with your feet together. Keep your legs straight throughout the standing split.

Bend over from the hips and place your hands on the floor, approximately 2 to 3 feet from your toes. Place hands front of the leg you are going to stand on. For example, if you are going to stand on your right leg -- with your left leg raised -- place your hands in front of your right foot.

Shift your weight onto your right leg.

Lift your left leg behind you and stretch it up toward the ceiling. Your hips will naturally want to twist to the left. Resist this motion by turning your left thigh inward. Ballet dancers, who do not want internal rotation in their legs, can open their hips. Aim to keep the shoulders and torso square.

Walk your hands toward your foot as you lift your leg higher toward the ceiling. You will feel a stretch in the front of your left hip and on the back of your right thigh. Ideally, keep your torso flat on your supporting leg.

Hold the standing split for up to one minute, then switch legs. As you’re holding the split, breathe evenly. On every exhale, lift your leg just a little bit higher.

Tips

  • When you first start working on this stretch, your leg will probably not reach a completely vertical position, even if you can do a 180-degree front split. Vertical splits require strength as well as flexibility. Build the strength to lift your leg by practicing the standing splits with a resistance band. Stand on one end of the band with your left foot and tie the other end around your right ankle. Perform your standing splits, lifting your leg against the resistance of the band.
  • Keep practicing your regular front splits to work on the flexibility needed to get your leg higher.

Warning

  • Warm up with five to 10 minutes of cardio as well as some gentle hip flexor and hamstring stretches before working on the standing split.
 

About the Author

Kat Black is a professional writer currently completing her doctorate in musicology/ She has won several prestigious awards for her research, and has had extensive training in classical music and dance.