I proceeded to do the splits right there and then, with no preparation.
Well, let’s say I managed the position but did something to my butt that had me limping for a month!
These days I can do the pose almost first thing in the morning as I have been practicing for many years. However, most people will need quite a bit of preparation.
The splits should not feel like too much stretching. It is not about splitting apart.
Working actively means the pose is actually about coming together again.
You remain at whatever stage you feel comfortable in (feel like lengthening and relaxing, not stretching and tugging). But first, some keys to practice. Below I have shown step-wise progression into the posture.
Hover the curser over the photos to see the steps
There are two key things I am doing in each stage. The first also has a little subplot.
The back thigh is rolling in, which means you might feel the inner thigh firming a little. If you could turn around and see your knee is trying to move so it is more towards the centre line of your body.
The subplot here is that I am also trying to move the side of front hip back and draw side of back hip forward.
If you are not mindful the opposite tends to happen. That is, when you roll the front thigh out it can often bring the side of front hip forward and when rolling the back thigh in it can often send the side of back hip backward. So you need to watch out for this.
The second key thing I am doing is to try to suck my legs or feet together.
Yes. I am not actually trying to split them apart.
Sucking them together could be likened to someone at foot trying to push your legs back together (what I am doing).
Whereas most beginners just try to let their legs come apart. Actually, they do not even do that so much as let the weight of their entire pelvis and torso just hang and sag in the middle. Its not a pleasant feeling. Sucking it up is key.
In our yoga practice of this pose we need to be thinking of trying to draw our feet back together again (while they move apart).
This makes the posture active rather than passive.
It will help make you stronger and more mobile.
The video shows these movements in action. I have also provided a 2nd video to show advanced variations of the posture (intended for demonstrational purposes).