How to Do Standing Split Pose in Yoga (Guide to Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana)

Standing Split is an inversion and a stretch, which simultaneously improves your sense of balance and flexibility.

This pose is popular today because it looks aesthetic – but that is not why it’s beneficial for your practice. It challenges your body in multiple ways and is a fantastic addition to your flow if you’re an intermediate to advanced student. It can help you reach your full splits and is a great warm-up for those deep hip stretches. Many also use it as a preparatory pose for handstands.

The Sanskrit name of the pose is Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana, which translates to “one foot expanding upward pose.”

Make sure you always warm up with sun salutations and milder stretches before attempting the Standing split pose.

“Standing Split pose is a balance, inversion, and stretching pose all in one,” says Yoga Answered contributor Sara Popovic. “It will teach you to obtain a deeper awareness of your body, to maintain balance while activating one and stretching your other leg. It’ll also encourage you to try a variety of new things like the splits and arm balances and to have fun and play on the mat.”

Standing Split Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana
Pose Type: Forward Bend Yoga Poses, Standing Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Intermediate pose
Targets: Legs, back, hips
Benefits: The Standing Split pose stretches the hamstrings, calves, and back. It also strengthens the leg muscles on the leg that remains on the floor. It can help you improve your balance. The pose is also a mild inversion, providing similar benefits like other inversions. These include relief from anxiety, stress, insomnia, fatigue, and headache. The pose helps to improve memory and focus, and calms the nervous system.
Preparatory Poses: Standing Forward Bend pose, Big Toe pose, Wide-Legged Forward Bend pose, Seated Forward Bend pose

How to Do Standing Split Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Start in Mountain pose, with your feet rooted in the ground and your arms by your side. Become aware of your breath.
  2. Reach your arms overhead with an inhale, then exhale and bend into a Standing Forward Bend. Straighten your legs, without locking the knees, and place your hands on the floor.
  3. Shift your weight on one foot, and equally on both hands. Raise the other leg back up, as high as you can.
  4. Walk the hands towards the back to deepen the pose and relax your shoulders. Don’t open your hips – draw the hip of the leg that’s in the air inward, to keep your hips squared. When you do that, you’ll naturally lower your leg down a bit.
  5. Hold the pose for 3 to 5 breaths. Release the leg to the floor, and repeat on the other side.

Beginner’s Tip

Although the full expression of the Standing Split pose looks cool – don’t think about how high you’re lifting your leg when you’re practicing. This will make you open your hip, and you won’t reap the full benefit of the pose. Instead, square your hips and focus on what you feel instead of what you look like – you should feel a deep stretch in your quads and hamstrings. Don’t round too much in your spine. When you’re learning the pose, you can press the lifted leg to a wall to help you with balance and stability. Before attempting the pose, you should have a good understanding and experience in practicing the Standing Forward Bend Pose and the Warrior III Pose.

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