Urdhva Prasarita Ekapadasana (Standing Splits Pose)

Iyengar's difficulty rating: 6* out of 60*

Iyengar's Technique:

  1. Stand in Tadasana.
  2. On an exhale, fold forward at your hips. Place your L hand on the back of your R ankle. Place your R palm on the floor next to your R foot. Rest your chin and chest on your R knee or shin.
  3. Lift your L leg as high as possible. Engage your quadriceps and tighten your kneecaps to keep your legs straight and strong. Your L leg will attempt to externally rotate so that your knee and toes point to the side; attempt to minimize this.
  4. Remain in the pose for about 20 seconds with even breathing.

Comparing Forms:

  • Iyengar has less external rotation in his lifted leg than I.
  • Like most other forward folding poses, Iyengar's legs are straighter than mine. At the time of this shoot, I would microbend my knees to avoid hyperextension and inflammation in the posterior knee capsule and popliteus muscle.
  • My weight is further forward on my foot, which has allowed me to fold deeper over my standing leg.
  • Iyengar is resting his chin on his shin and maintaining a curve in his cervical spine. I am touching my forehead to my shin and flattening my cervical spine. Neither is necessarily wrong, but in general, I tend to think maintaining that curve - as Iyengar is doing - is a better bet.