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  • Chloe Jay

How to do the middle splits

If you’d told me five years ago that “Chloe, you, a person who can’t comfortably forward fold, will be in the middle splits one day”, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Like front splits, I didn't think my anatomy would allow for such a contortion. But fast forward to 2023 during a regular yoga class I attended, and ‘plop’, I sank into middle splits with ease. 

A yoga teacher demonstrating middle splits

This wasn’t a result of my natural flexibility or a freak accident but what I realise now, is the repetition of a certain group of exercises and asanas I had practised for extended periods of time. In this article, we’ll explore these asanas and how to get your middle splits.

Anatomy of the middle splits

Known as Samakonasana in Sanskrit, the middle splits (also known as centre splits or box splits) is viewed as an advanced asana. This is because it relies on not just the flexibility but the strength of several muscle groups that wouldn’t necessarily extend (lengthen) during day-to-day activities.

To achieve middle splits we rely on the following muscle groups:

  1. Hip flexors (the three muscles that help us flex our hips, i.e. take a step forward or kick leg above the waist)

  2. External hip rotators (muscles that live in your pelvis, butt and legs that help the thigh and the knee rotate outward, away from the body - these are very important for bringing the pubic bones to the floor)

  3. The glutes (your butt)

  4. Adductors (your inner thigh muscles that are being stretched)

  5. Hamstrings (a group of muscles found at the back of each thigh)

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

Asanas and exercises for the middle splits

1. Skandasana

A yoga teacher demonstrating skandasana

How to do skandasana

  • Begin standing with legs wide and toes turned out slightly

  • Starting with the right side, come into a side lunge, bring both hands to the floor if that feels more comfortable for you

  • The left leg begins to straighten as you sink into your right side

  • Ideally, you root through the left heel so that the left toes face upwards

  • Remember to keep the spine elongated - if the body allows for it, bring hands to the heart centre (Anjali Mudra) 

  • Other hand placements include: hands on the floor, arms wide or a bind 

Repeat on the other side

2. Frog pose

In Sanskrit: Mandukasana

A yoga teacher demonstrating frog pose

How to do frog pose

  • Begin in a tabletop position: on all fours with the wrists stacked underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips

  • Slowly begin to shuffle the knees outwards, making sure they stay in line with the hips

  • When you’ve reached a comfortable position, ensure each leg is at a 90-degree angle, with the soles of the feet in a straight line and toes pointing out to the sides

  • Gently bring the forearms down, ensuring that the elbows remain underneath the shoulders

  • Imagine the pubic bones are sinking downwards, always bringing it back if you experience any pain or pinching

3. Bound angle pose A

In Sanskrit: Baddha Konasana A

A yoga teacher demonstrating baddha konasana

How to do bound angle A

  • Begin in a crossed-legged position

  • Bring the soles of the feet together, your knees are wide

  • From here, take your hands around the tops of your feet, bringing the heels towards the pelvis

  • Make sure both glutes are glued to the mat and with a straight back, look up

  • Hinge from the hips and slowly fold forward, bringing the chest towards the mat

  • Keep the hands around the feet or you can plant the palms in front of you and slowly begin to walk your fingers forward, dropping the forearms if that’s comfortable for you

4. Bound angle pose B

In Sanskrit: Baddha Konasana B

A yoga teacher demonstrating baddha konasana B

How to do bound angle B

  • Begin in Baddha Konasana A (step-by-step instructions above), with the spine straight

  • Shuffle the feet forwards slightly so that you’re left with a diamond shape with the legs

  • Take your feet in your hands but this time, open up the soles of the feet so that they’re facing upwards

  • From here, dig your elbows into the creases of the knees

  • Stay here or, to deepen this, bring the crown of the head down towards the feet

5. Malasana squat

A yoga teacher demonstrating malasana squat

How to do a malasana squat

  • Begin in a standing position

  • Shuffle your feet a little wider than hip-width, with toes pointing outwards and heels pointing inwards

  • Sink into a low squat, the knees are bent and the pubic bones are low

  • Dig your elbows into the creases of your knees and join hands together to meet at the heart centre (Anjali Mudra), alternatively, place your hands on the floor for support

  • Straighten the spine as much as you can

6. Fire log pose

In Sanskrit: Agnistambhasana

A yoga teacher demonstrating fire log pose

 How to do fire log pose

  • Begin in a crossed-legged position

  • Bring the bottom shin so that it’s parallel with the top of the mat, in one straight line

  • Now stack the top shin on the bottom shin, making sure it’s also parallel to the top of the mat

  • The top foot should rest on the bottom knee and the top knee should rest on top of the bottom foot

  • Flex both feet

  • Repeat on the other side

7. Cow face pose

In Sanskrit: Gomukhasana

A yoga teacher demonstrating cow face pose

How to do cow face pose

  • Begin sitting on the floor with legs extended in front of you in staff pose (Dandasana)

  • Bending the left knee, shuffle the right foot to the outside of the left hip, weaving it under the left knee

  • Shuffle the left foot to the outside of the right hip

  • Knees should be stacked on top of each other

  • Grab your feet 

  • Alternatively, you can bring your arms into a T shape and:

  • Internally rotate the left shoulder so that the left palm now faces behind you, bending the elbow, send the back of your hand in between your shoulder blades

  • Send the right arm up so that fingers point to the ceiling, bending the elbow, place the palm of your hand on the upper back - begin to walk the fingers down towards the left hand

  • Keep the hands as they are or, interlock fingers together if it’s comfortable

  • Repeat on the other side

8. Seated straddle 

In Sanskrit: Upavistha Konasana 

A yoga teacher demonstrating a seated straddle pose

How to do seated straddle pose

  • Begin sitting with legs as wide as feels comfortable

  • Actively flex feet, making sure that toes are pointing up towards the ceiling

  • Inner thighs should be facing forward

  • Ensure that the spine stays long and the feet flexed as you begin to walk hands out in front of you

  • If the body allows for it, bring the forearms down, always looking forward rather than down and making sure the spine is in line with the neck - so as not to round the back

9. Half middle splits

A yoga teacher demonstrating half middle splits

 How to do half middle splits

  • Begin in a tabletop position: on all fours with the wrists stacked underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips

  • Send the right leg wide, making sure it’s in line with your right hip

  • Anchor through the little toe edge of the right foot, making sure the sole of the foot is fully grounded

  • From here, think about lowering your pubic bones a little towards the mat, as you do so, the right foot will slide further to the right

  • Repeat on the other side

How to safely enter the middle splits

Before attempting middle 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 the above positions and feel comfortable in them? If the answer is no, spend some more time in each before attempting middle splits.

  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 injuries occur!

To enter the middle splits:

A yoga teacher demonstrating middle splits

  • Begin standing with legs wide, hands on hips

  • Start to shuffle both feet wider than your current stance, taking lots of care as you do so

  • As the pubic bones draw nearer to the floor, you may wish to bring your palms to the mat or yoga bricks if you’re using them

  • Gently bring the pubic bones and inner thighs to the mat - if you’re not quite there, keep your hands on the floor or use a yoga brick for extra support

  • Make sure your toes are facing forwards rather than up - the inner ball of your ankles touching the mat

Final thoughts

There’s no time like the present!  

This pose can take a long time to achieve, so I recommend starting your journey to the middle splits as soon as you can.

The postures and stretches that I’ve included in this article are tried and tested by yours truly and require consistent, persistent practice. 

So, hang out in each for a few minutes a few times a week and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you begin seeing progress.

As always, listen to your body. If you ever feel pain, pinching or discomfort, it’s an indicator that your body isn’t ready for a certain level of flexibility. It’s good to challenge ourselves, but finding a balance is key. If the ego is telling you to surpass the pain, politely shush it, bringing yourself back to a more comfortable place.

Love and light,



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