|Standing variation of splits|
In particular review the first video on supine activation (shown again below) that gives you an idea about what your tummy is doing in these postures.
Ok, so now you have reviewed (and practiced and understood) the importance of tummy activation we can have a think about some other thoughts on helping hamstrings, hips, and spine.
In these sequences I highlight the idea of bringing chest to knees. This is an active movement that we do by initially using tummy activation first and then using hip flexion.
With these postures I am using an active tummy movement then trying to lengthen my spine along the front of the thigh. A more apt description would be that I am not so much trying to bring chest to thigh but trying to bring belly button to thigh and then take my belly button to the knee along the front of the thigh.
If you are thinking of bringing chest to thigh this can create a tendency to droop or drop the chest when I actually want spinal length. In this practice if your spine will not lengthen then you are too deep in the posture.
This might require a radical rethink of your postures and movement.
While it may not immediately seem apparent, these are all fairly intense forward bends. There is a danger of over stretching. Do not attempt intense forward bends without supervision or a good understanding of your own lower spine. Best to practice with a teacher. As with all postures, you must be careful and go slowly.
The video shows how I have lengthened my spine along the front of my thigh in the various incarnations of this posture. You should only straighten your leg if you can keep your spine long and do not feel strain. This will be beyond the capacity of most people.
STANDING UPRIGHT VARIATIONS
Step 1: Toe and hips forward
Lengthen lower back (sitting bones to heels, top of pelvis back.
Toe forward, hips forward. This should help create postural firmness in your tummy.
Step 2: Knee raise
Lift knee forward and up. Make sure you keep hips forward.
Step 3: Spinal forward flexion
Step 4: Push and press
Hold shin. With bent elbows pull with your hands but press with your shin.
There will be a tendency for the tummy to switch off here as the arms take over. But keep it on!
I try to wriggle my belly button up along the thigh. This is lengthening the spine and you will see that my back body is long throughout.
Step 5: Lean back
Step 6: Open knee angle
Slowly start to open the knee angle. Do this actively. I am not pulling it open with my hands here. I use my hand on my heel so I can push my heel into my hand and pull back with my hand.
You might not be able to open the knee angle and keep chest and thigh together so only open so far that they stay together. This is where you stay.
Step 7: Open
In this position my hand is helping to open my leg. I am not strong enough to take my leg up this straight against gravity.
But I make active efforts to straighten the leg with my front thigh muscles, and also keep a pushing action of heel into hand and hand into heel.
Tummy stays firm. Spine stays long.
Step 1: Lunge
It is important to remember how I came into this posture, which is first through active spinal flexion with tummy activation and then hip flexion keeping tummy firm. Finally, I do some spinal extension but trying to wriggle my belly button up towards my knee. You can see tieback of my body is long. In fact, it is pretty straight.
In this position I keep my back leg active.
Step 2: Lengthen
I go to a split here. It is a matter of slowly straightening my legs and keeping everything else the same. that makes it sound easy. But it is not!
UPSIDE DOWN SPLIT
Step 1: Short lunge
Step 2: Both knees to chest
Step 3: Straight standing leg
Step 4: Take it up
There you go. A few more variations
These are tricky ones because they are very easy to collapse into. It is easy to sink and be passive if you are not mindful.
You might see if you can bring knee close to chest while you are lying on your back and without the hands. That would be a good indicator of whether or not these variations are going to be possible for you.
If the knee will not come to close to the chest while lying on your back you are going to find these postures impossible or difficult or else you will probably be doing the by compensating with some other movement. It might be worth thinking about trying the supine variations for a while longer first.
have fun. Happy and safe practicing!