Practising the splits requires a lot of flexibility, and let’s not forget strength. As with any well executed yoga posture flexibility on its own can be dangerous. You may well look around you in a class practising the splits, and see many students getting themselves into splits. But look a bit deeper at how they may be achieving the posture and it will reveal a lot.

The thing I find fascinating about scissor splits (Hanuman in Sanskrit) is that it half back bend and half forward bend, and this is where the problems can emerge. It seems to me that it would be quite common to think of scissor splits as a big stretch in the back of the legs, and so it is. But look at someone in a well-executed scissor splits, and you will see that it is the leading leg where it is the back of the leg that is being stretched. The trailing leg is doing something else, it is the top of the leg that is facing the floor, so it is the top of the leg that needs to lengthen.

If you look at the position of the pelvis in a scissor splits, you will see the leading leg is in a flexion (forward bend) and the trailing leg is in extension (back bend) and the pelvis is balanced between front and back legs. The pelvis should be in a neutral position, this means the lower back will retain its natural curve. If the pelvis tips forward to much, the lower back will curve too much. splits

A splits class when balanced will not just focus on forward bending to stretch the backs of the legs, it will just as much stretch the tops of the legs.

A common mistake you will notice in a class where the splits is being practised can be very harmful if it is continued with. Look and you will see some students who appear to get into splits, at the expense of twisting the pelvis. This can put the Sacroiliac joint under pressure, which is not meant to twist. Any twisting action in this joint can cause it to become unstable, which is something to be avoided.

If you see a student who, when in the stretch cannot get the top of the trailing leg on the floor, but continues to push into it, are in danger of twisting the pelvis.

The splits classes at Yoga Dharma are planned to progressively take the student to a point where they get the best from it. This is a fine point, and our teachers are all skilled in finding the best modifications and adjustments for individual students. A well-planned class will include a variety of options, and should be able to react to individual situations as they arise. 

Our teachers are trained in anatomy by experts in their field. They understand the anatomy of postures, and are able to adapt postures in a group setting to individuals without interrupting the flow of the class.

Martin Thompson