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.

Step 1

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

Step 2

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.

Step 3

Shift your weight onto your right leg.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.

Step 6

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.

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