The ability to do the splits affects many aspects of dance and is one of the foundations for success. The splits translate to an ability to meet the technically challenging aspects of dance with ease and efficiency. Without this you will have to work a whole lot harder as a dancer.
Many yogis also work towards the splits as this allows for more flexibility and range of motion in the hips. This translates to ease and freedom of movement and allows yogis to deepen and experience postures that they otherwise were limited in. Of course, in yoga achieving a posture is not the ultimate goal but coming to your edge and extending beyond your limitations is.
The edge is that place where you feel a little unsure. It is a place where you learn a lot about yourself as it gets your attention and brings you to the present moment. In this space you learn to listen and accept. You learn to push yourself past your fears and pull back when needed. You develop patience and an understanding that force doesn’t work and things will happen when the time is right. You become more aware of what is holding you back. And when it comes to the Splits, Hanumanasana, your hip flexors are most likely holding you back.
At times and depending on the position of your hip you can have up to ten muscles opposing hip extension. These are your hip flexors. They can really get in the way for dancers when doing the splits, arabesques, penches, leg hold turns, grand battements, grand jetes and much more. For yogis, this can seriously limit you when doing Monkey Pose, Dancer Pose, One-Footed King Pigeon, Floor Bow, Pigeon Pose, Upward Facing Bow Pose and Upward Facing Two-Footed Staff Pose to name a few.
You may be able to do the splits but still have tight hip flexors. If this is the case you are putting more strain on the hamstrings than you need to. Over time, this will lead to strain on the hamstrings and eventually you will experience limited mobility in the back of the legs and you will still have tight hip flexors. This will continue to limit your mobility and flexibility, particularly hip extension, meaning anything you do with one leg behind you.
Below are our top five stretches for moving towards the splits with ease and efficiency without causing damage to the hamstrings.