How to Do Russian Splits
Unless your were born with the ability to twist yourself into a pretzel like a gymnast, achieving a Russian split -- also called a center, horizontal or saddle split -- is no easy task. In a Russian split, your legs spread widely horizontally so your hips can sink deeply into the floor. In order to achieve a Russian split, focus on daily stretches that improve the flexibility of your adductors, or inner thigh muscles.
Standing in a wide-legged stance, slide your feet away from one another as your hips sink toward the floor. You've achieved the full pose when your legs and hips are positioned entirely on the floor, knees and toes pointing toward the ceiling. Coming into the full pose from a standing position can put a lot of pressure on your hip joints; move slowly and exercise caution.
Sit up tall with your legs extended together in front of the body. Slide your legs away from on another in a large semicircle until they are open as wide as possible. Press your hands into the floor behind you for stability and to open your chest.
Perform a Russian split against a wall to let gravity improve your flexibility. Lie on your back with your buttocks close to a wall. Extend your legs up the wall; the backs of your legs will be touching the wall. Let your legs fall away from each other, as your inner thighs open up. Slide the legs as far away from each other as possible. Stay in this position for 30 seconds to one minute to stretch the inner thighs.
Practice stretching the inner thigh muscles daily. The yoga stretch Wide-Legged Forward Bend stretches the adductors deeply, preparing you for a Russian split. To perform Wide-Legged Forward Bend, sit up tall with a straight spine. Extend your legs away from each other as wide as possible. Keeping a straight spine, hinge at the waist and lower your torso toward the floor. Stretch your arms out in front of you, aiming to eventually touch your forehead to the floor.
Warm up for at least five minutes before performing a Russian split. To warm up, try running in place, jumping rope or performing jumping jacks.
There is a risk of injury associated with performing Russian splits. If you are learning how to perform a split, proceed slowly and with caution. Stretch your thigh muscles, as well as your hip muscles and hamstrings, daily.
Nicole Carlin is a registered yoga teacher. Her writing has been published in yoga and dance teacher training manuals for POP Fizz Academy. Carlin received a Masters of Arts in gender studies from Birkbeck University in London and a Bachelors of Arts in psychology from Temple University, Philadelphia.