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Splits stretch your hamstrings and hip flexors.
Performing Hanumanasana, or the splits, is an effective way to stretch your legs. However, it's important to understand which muscles are being stretched so you can properly prepare those muscles for splits. When you know how to stretch these muscles, you will be able to appropriately prepare your body for the deep and invigorating pose, Hanumanasana.
To perform splits, include the hip flexors, hamstrings and abs in your stretching routine.
Know Your Hip Flexors
The iliopsoas is one of the major hip flexors. To stretch it practice a low lunge. The low lunge is a good first stretch to prepare your body for splits. Get down on the floor on all fours - hands and knees. Place your right foot in between your hands. Move your left knee back until you feel a stretch in the front of your left hip. Make sure your right knee is directly over your right ankle. For a deeper stretch, lift your arms up by your ears. Hold the pose for six long, deep breaths, then switch sides.
Include the Hamstrings
The hamstrings extend the hip and straighten the leg at the knee joint. They are the next muscle group to stretch before splits. To stretch the hamstrings practice Ardha Hanumanasana. From all fours place your right foot in between your hands and straighten your right leg. Scoot your right foot forward until your left knee is directly over your left hip. Flex your ankle and point your toes back toward your face. Hinge at your hips as you lengthen the top of your head toward your toes. Squeeze your shoulder blades back and together. Hold for six breaths, then switch sides.
Target Your Abdominals
Your abdominals are the last muscles to stretch before performing splits. Come to your knees and place your hands on your low back. Point your fingers down and your thumbs out. Lean your hips forward and gaze up. If you can, reach your right hand back and grab your right ankle, fingers inside with your thumb out. Then reach your left hand back and grab your left ankle. Push your hips forward, lift your chest up and lengthen the back of your neck. Hold for six breaths. Do two to three sets.
Do the Splits
Now that you have stretched your iliopsoas, hamstrings and abdominals, you are ready for the full version of Hanumanasa. Come to all fours. Place your right foot in between your hands. Slowly inch your right foot forward and your left knee back until you feel a stretch in your right hamstring and left iliopsoas. Lift your chest up and squeeze your shoulders back to lengthen your abdominals. Engage your right hamstring and left iliopsoas as your draw your knees toward each other. Release and deepen into your split. Hold for six breaths, then switch sides.