It’s no secret that I love yoga. And since January 1st of this year, I’ve made an effort to do a little bit of yoga every day. So far, I’ve only missed a few days–I think about three or four in all. Even though it’s only been a little over a month and there are days when I don’t do more than a 20-minute practice, I’ve already seen a lot of improvement. I’m stronger and more flexible, and able to get into fuller expressions of poses that used to elude me. It’s a good feeling. But in spite of all my progress, it’s hard for me to shake the idea that there are some poses that I will just never, ever get. One of them: standing split, or urdhva prasarita eka padasana.
Balance poses are a mixed bag for me. I could hold tree or eagle for days, but ask me to go into half-moon, dancer, or warrior III and it’s more than likely that I’ll fall flat on my face. Before I do, though, I’ll manage to show you some approximation of the pose–something that will make you say, “Oh yeah, I see it.” You might only see it for half a second, but you’ll see it. Standing split? Not so! And just in case you were wondering, see that picture there? To the left? That’s not me. When I attempt standing split, I look more like a cat, flailing around after having been thrown out a window–limbs everywhere, no real sense of where things should be in relation to anything else.
The frustrating thing about standing split is that it’s so close, but so far. It’s not like peacock pose or crane pose which I can look at and immediately recognize as something that I am nowhere near doing. Those poses don’t even come up in the practices I do because they’re so far outside my realm of capability. But standing split comes up all the time, and usually in a really casual way, “Now, from warrior II, plant your palms on the ground and transfer your weight into your right leg. As you straighten your right leg, lift your leg into standing split…” Oh right, of course. No problem. Except for the fact that my right leg is straight and my left leg is just sort of dangling like a useless appendage over which I have absolutely no power. Why, left leg? Why?!
Hoping to enlighten myself, I sought the advice of YogaVibes. They have a couple video explanations of how to go into standing split, but oddly they don’t really do much to clarify how you get there if you are me. And YogaJournal has a list of postures to do to prepare for standing split. The thing is, I can do all of them just fine. My hamstrings are pretty open. I can bring my forehead to my knee. But how does that translate into successfully getting into standing split? There seems to be a piece missing here. Namely, the one in which I do a forward bend with my forehead to my knee and then raise one leg into a split. Can someone explain this to me? Am I the only one confused about this?
Seriously. I don’t get it.