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  • Chloe Jay

How to do the front splits

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

When I started my yoga journey, the idea of reaching front splits was laughable; I wasn’t naturally bendy and my body would never allow for that level of flexibility - surely?

But somehow, here we are.

Front splits, or in Sanskrit, Hanumanasana - named after the Hindu God, Hanuman who takes the form of a monkey - is an advanced Asana (or yoga pose) that requires the strength and flexibility of both the hamstrings and the hip flexors.

Aesthetically the front splits is a beautiful pose however, if not approached correctly can result in injury and long recovery periods. Reaching the pose requires patience and persistence - this article advises how to prepare for front splits, offers the best stretches for splits and how to safely enter the yoga pose.

Anatomy of the front splits

When practicing the front splits, we’re using both the hamstrings (running down the back of the thigh, connecting the lower leg bone to part of the pelvis) and the hip flexors (a group of muscles that facilitate the flexion of your leg towards your body).

In order to bring the pelvis to the floor, we are using our hip flexors, which must be both strong and flexible. And to straighten both the front and back legs in front splits, we need to work on hamstring strength and flexibility.

Check out the asanas and exercises below to target both of these areas.

Asanas and exercises for the front splits

1. Head to knee pose

In Sanskrit: Janu Sirsasana


  • Begin sitting with a straight back and legs extended out in front of you (Dandasana or staff pose)

  • Bring the sole of your right foot to meet the inside of your left thigh

  • Both glutes are on the floor

  • Bend the left knee and send the hands forwards towards the foot

  • Rather than rounding the back here, send the chest to your left thigh, bending the knee as generously as necessary - you can work on straightening the leg later

  • Your hands either frame your left leg or clasp the foot, ankle or shin

  • Use your breath here; on each inhalation lengthen the spine and on each exhalation, see if you can fold a little deeper

  • Repeat on the other side

2. Half splits

In Sanskrit: Ardha hanumanasana


  • Begin in a lunge, with the right leg forward

  • Making sure your left knee is directly underneath your hip, roll on to the heel of your front foot

  • Make sure the front leg is straight, without locking the knee, flex your toes upwards

  • Hands are either on hips or framing the front leg

  • Without rounding the back, fold over the front leg - remember that your head and neck should be in line with your spine!

  • Imagine you’re inching forward rather than folding over the leg

  • Repeat on the other side

3. Pyramid pose

In Sanskrit: Parsvottanasana


  • Begin by standing

  • Send the right leg forward, a shorter stance than a lunge - aim for around a 2ft gap between feet

  • Your feet are either in line with one another or a hip’s width apart if the former is too much

  • Bring your hands to heart centre and slowly fold forward until you reach a flat back

  • Make sure the front leg is straight, without locking the knee

  • Stay in a flat back or fold further if it’s available

  • Repeat on the other side

4. Reclined big toe pose

In Sanskrit: Supta Padangusthasana


  • Being in a supine position, lying flat on your back

  • Keep the right leg glued to the floor while you start to send the left leg towards the sky

  • Next, we have options:

    • Taking the peace fingers of your left hand, reach for the big toe. Work the toe towards the face

    • Grab a yoga strap, tie or dressing gown belt. Loop it around the ball of your foot and taking the strap in your left hand, work the foot towards your face

  • Try and make sure your left shoulder is on the ground - or as near to the ground as is possible

  • Repeat on the other side

5. Seated forward fold

In Sanskrit: Paschimottanasana


  • Begin sitting with a straight back and legs extended out in front of you

  • Bend both knees and taking your peace fingers, grab your big toes

  • With chest stuck to your thighs and with your head in line with your spine, slowly begin to straighten the legs

  • Leverage your elbows here - send them outwards and by doing so, you can bring your chest closer to the thighs

  • Don’t worry if your legs aren’t straight!

6. Low lunge

In Sanskrit: Anjaneyasana


  • Begin in a lunge, with your right leg forward

  • Make sure the knee of the front leg hovers over the ankle

  • Drop the back knee and untuck the back toes

  • Making sure the hips are squared to the top of the mat, then begin sinking into the right hip

  • When you feel stable, send the arms up, in line with the shoulders and gaze in between the two hands

  • Repeat to the other side

7. Pigeon pose

In Sanskrit: Kapotasana


  • Begin in a downward facing dog position

  • Bend the right leg and send the knee to the right wrist, setting the shin down on the ground

  • Slowly manoeuvre the right foot to the opposite side of the mat, your shin should be in a diagonal line

  • Bring the left leg down, dropping the knee and untucking the toes

  • Sink the right glutes into the round, if there is some space, pop a cushion or brick under the thigh for support

  • Come on to the fingertips of both hands, wider than your mat and open the chest and look up

  • Repeat on the other side

8. Lizard pose

In Sanskrit: Utthan pristhasana


  • Begin in a lunge, with the right leg forward

  • Bring both hands to the ground so that they’re framing the front foot

  • With care, move the front foot so that it’s on the outside of the two hands

  • Now that both hands are on the inside of the right foot, you can drop the back knee and untuck the toes

  • Here you have options:

    • Stay here! This is sufficiently working your hip flexors

    • Drop the forearms if it’s available to you but listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right, bring it back to the palms

  • Repeat on the other side

9. Supported splits pose


  • Before you get started, grab yourself some yoga bricks or alternatively, a set of thick books or sturdy cushions

  • Begin in a low lunge, bricks propped up on their highest setting, either side of the body with your hands resting on top of them

  • Start by sliding your front heel forward, once you’ve reached a comfortable limit, do the same with the back foot

  • Make sure to square the hips; they should be facing the top of the mat rather than drifting to one side

  • The legs may still be bent here - that’s totally fine, see if you can sink into the stretch even by a centimetre!

  • Repeat on the other side

How to enter front splits safely

Before attempting front splits, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I warm? Have I worked the hamstrings and hip flexors using the asanas above?

  2. Have I tried supported front splits using props such as yoga bricks and my pelvis is near the floor? If the answer is no, spend some more time in supported splits before attempting the pose without props

  3. Will I listen to my body? This includes ignoring the ego when it tells you to progress further into the stretch regardless of the discomfort or pain you might be feeling. Always bring it back if something doesn’t feel right - this is where common hamstring injuries occur!

Yoga involves detaching from the ego. Learn more about non-attachment (Aparigraha) here.

Bonus tip: If you have access to wooden or tile flooring, chuck on a pair of socks as for entering splits, it makes everything much easier!

To enter the front splits:

  • Begin in a low lunge

  • Start by sliding your front heel forward, once you’ve reached a comfortable limit, do the same with the back foot until legs are straight

  • Make sure to square the hips; they should be facing the top of the mat rather than drifting to one side

  • The toes of your front foot should be flexed up, while the top of the back foot should be in contact with the mat

  • If the hamstrings aren’t quite on the floor, place a blanket underneath for support

Final thoughts

Hanumanasa is a beautiful asana and highly sought after by many. However, the most important consideration for fulfilling this pose is patience and persistence.

While you won’t achieve your front splits magically overnight, there is no better time to begin training your body than now. Spend a few minutes in each stretch a couple of times a week and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how quickly your body responds.

As always, listen to your body. If any discomfort, pinching or pain is experienced, reduce the stretch!

Love and light,


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