By now you have probably been working pretty diligently at getting better at your splits, or full Hanumanasa aka “Monkey Pose”.
Check out last week’s article here for some tips if you missed it.
So far we have worked on the adductors in a kinesiological stretch and worked with some blocks to support the pose. Now we are going to test whether we may need to stretch the front leg or the back leg more- namely, the hamstrings and the hip flexors. We call this a Structural vs Functional Split. Here is how we can test this:
- Give yourself a good warm up, and then go into your split (even with the blocks is okay)
- Bring your attention to your hips. Notice if your back hip is slightly is taking more of the stretch than your hamstring. A sure tell sign of this is to notice whether your spine is in neutral or not. If it’s not, then you are most likely more flexible in your hip flexors than your hamstrings. This is a Structural Split.
- If your spine is in neutral, but you have an anterior pelvic tilt happening in your hips, this will create more of a low back arch and sinking effect into the low back. This means that your hamstrings are taking the brunt of the stretch rather than your hip flexors. This is a Functional Split.
Check out this video for a visual demonstration of this concept:
Ideally, we want both the front and back legs to be working 50/50. Now that you know your ‘problem’ area, you can set out to work on that part of your body. Be sure to know that if your hip flexors are tight, you will not be stretching your rectus femoris, or quadriceps muscle, to perform the splits. Look at this article to find out why that is.
Today we are going to learn a variation on our ~Stability~ exercise.
- Start in your lunge position with the right leg forward.
- Lean over to the right side, in hip abduction and lateral flexion. Support yourself with your hand on the floor or a block. This is your Leverage.
- Keep the hips where they are in abduction and bring your torso upright. Move your hips further forward into hip extension. This is your Target.
- Repeat 4 times on each side.
To learn more exercises to improve your Hanumanasana and slide your way into the splits, we recommend this program!
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