I Tried to Get the Splits in a Week & Ended Up Falling in Love with Yoga

I've always wanted to be able to do the splits. Partially so that I can do all the latest TikTok dances (ahem, the WAP dance), and partially so I could show my skills to anyone willing to watch. However, there is one big hurdle for me to jump: I am naturally very inflexible. Even after multiple years enrolled in dance class or gymnastics as a kid, I’ve still never been able to do a split. So I decided to embark on a journey to find the flexible goddess within me. For a full week, I will eat, sleep, and breathe the splits.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Now, how do I go about this in a safe and effective way? I turned to a yoga expert to get some guidance on my endeavor. Emily MacLean is a yoga advisor and manager at Namaste Highland Park, a yoga studio located in a trendy neighborhood of Los Angeles, and, coincidentally, right across the street from my favorite vegan donut shop. MacLean has been practicing yoga for over 25 years, so she is totally qualified to offer me some sage advice.

MacLean was quick to remind me that in yoga, the goal is being present with where your body is in the moment, not trying to force your body into something it is not ready for. That was a principle I carried through my yoga practice for the week. I did not push past where I was comfortable and I offered myself love and compassion regardless of how close my body was to the ground.

I had to ask myself the question: why? Of course I knew the surface level reasons as to why I wanted to be able to do the Hanumanasana pose (the Sanskrit name for a split), but there had to be a deeper meaning. There had to be benefits to incorporating stretching and yoga into my daily life.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Life nowadays is so busy and stressful. Between juggling a full-time college class load, extracurricular commitments, and keeping up with stressful news, I spend most of my day staring at my computer. MacLean says “[yoga] shuts down that constant moving of the brain, and it helps the brain chemistry, even out and regulate itself.” She says that after spending hours sitting at our computers, finding “centeredness of the mind” is one of the many benefits of yoga.

I felt prepared to go on this journey. I knew how my body and mind would benefit from this challenge, and I knew how to go about it safely. I also knew, as MacLean told me, “yoga is about equal parts strengthening the body and lengthening the body.” Now, I had to figure out my plan for my week-long split quest.

After researching the best stretches to achieve the splits, I settled on this routine: I would start by warming up my body with either a brisk walk, a few body weight leg exercises, or a few minutes on my spin bike. Next, I would do a bit of full body yoga to get in touch with my breath and get energy flowing through my veins. Then I would work on some poses to lengthen and strengthen my hip flexors and hamstrings. After I felt fully warmed up, I slid into a split, and supported my hips with as many pillows or yoga blocks as I needed, and held the split for around a half-minute on each side.

I did this routine twice daily — once in the morning and once before bed. Throughout the entire exercise, I made sure to focus on the breath, and, following MacLean’s advice, “if you can’t take a deep breath ... then you need to kind of back off.” I used that as a guide — if I was struggling to breathe comfortably in a pose, I would ease up.

Before embarking on this week-long adventure, I took some measurements, so that I could have some real-life evidence on my progression. On my left split, my hips were 6.25 inches off the ground. On the left side, I was hovering seven inches from my mat.

By the end of the week, after accumulating about seven hours of time on the mat… my right split was down to 4.5 inches from the ground, while my left was 3.75 inches! While I obviously have a ways to go, this was a welcomed improvement. Not only did my splits get over two inches closer to the ground, but I was able to hold the pose longer, and I was so excited to hop on the mat each day.

Even though I wasn’t able to get the splits in a week, my journey doesn't end here. I felt such a mental and physical benefit after practicing yoga every day this week. I found that a lot of my stress melted away after stepping on the mat. So much anxiety is stored physically, specifically in the hips. By focusing my energy on relaxing my hips, I felt some of the stress I had stored up resolve.

I have not given up on my goal of getting the splits. I’m manifesting it here: I will eventually get the splits! Working towards this dream can be another reason for me to roll out my mat each day and honor my body. Plus, it will be, like, such a good Instagram photo.

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