Whether you’re attempting to advance your yoga practice, become a better dancer or simply improve your flexibility, standing splits offer a way to enhance your ability.
Without the assistance of the floor pressing you into the pose, it can be difficult to straighten your legs — especially because gravity is working against you in the air. With regular practice and a simple strategy, however, you’ll eventually stretch yourself into vertical standing splits.
Read more: Stretching Exercises to Do a Side Split
Before You Start
Perform the vertical split near a wall for extra assistance. Stand with your back to the wall and lunge away from the wall. As you lift your back leg off the ground, press the raised foot into the wall for support. As your practice improves, you can move your foot farther up the wall to increase the stretch.
One of the best ways to get better and more flexible in this pose is to keep doing it. If this is your goal, practice it every day, holding the stretch as deeply as you can for at least 30 to 60 seconds for two to three rounds.
How to Do Vertical Standing Splits
Start in a lunge position, with your dominant leg in front. Bend your front knee to 90 degrees and extend your back leg straight behind you, with your toes pressed into the ground.
Lift your arms to the sky and find balance in the low lunge. If you can’t maintain balance here, you’ll have a hard time transitioning into the standing split.
Lean forward at the waist as you lift your back foot. Bring your torso to your thigh and your hands to the ground beside your foot. Your back leg should be extended behind you with the top of your foot just slightly touching the ground.
Walk your hands forward a few inches in front of your foot. Adjust your weight so it’s balanced mostly on your front foot. Your hands should support your balance, not your weight.
Straighten your front leg while simultaneously lifting your back leg off the ground. Lift your back leg as high as possible. Ideally, it should be vertically in line with the rest of your body, but this can be very difficult for beginners. With practice, you’ll eventually achieve the full vertical standing split.
Walk your hands toward your foot. Again, this aspect of the exercise will improve with practice. Work toward bringing your hands all the way back to your foot and grasping your ankle. Hold for about 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
A yoga block can also help if you’re having trouble reaching the ground with your hands. When using one block, place it directly in front of your foot. When using two blocks, place one on each side of your foot.