For front to back splits, you can start with your back knee on the floor and your pelvis over your back knee. Squeeze your legs as if to prevent your legs from sliding apart. Then release.
Get used to this action, then each time you release, slide your front leg forwards just a little bit. Then squeeze and halt.
Have chairs nearby (or blocks in your hands) so that you can catch yourself if you find yourself going too far.
I've tried a number of different leg actions while using my legs to control their own decent. I'd suggest you do the same. It will give you more experience with your body. And it'll help you figure out for your self which action is the most helpful.
For a while I focused on the inner thighs.
If you have trouble focusing on both legs at the same time, focus on one leg first and then the other.
You may also find it helpful to activate the side glutes.
Another action you can experiment with is pressing your back foot into the floor, as if trying to lift your back knee.
For the front leg you could try pulling your heel back when you contract, as if trying to stand from the splits. Or you can try pressing your heel down during the activate phases.
Generally I find the scariest part is just before my front calf touches the floor. If you can see that your calf is only a few inches off of the floor, see if you can resist the urge to put your hands on the floor.
When (or if) you do get your pelvis to the floor, you may find that it feels great but you also want to get out as quickly as possible.
As you get more and more used to "touching down" see if you can hold this position and experiment with slowly relaxing your legs and then re-activating them as it trying to squeeze out of splits. You could also experiment with bending your back knee, grabbing the foot and pressing it down to the outside of the thigh similarly to hero pose (but with the thigh pointing down instead of up.)
When working towards splits, keep your spine long, including your neck.
Once you start working on doing the hands free splits, you may find that its easier to maintain leg tension if you do something with your hands. Whatever you do with them, make them feel long.
Although it is easier to get into splits if you turn your back leg out, I'd suggest keeping the back knee pointing down for a deeper psoas stretch.
You can also experiment with pushing your back foot down into the floor, as if trying to lift your back knee. Keep your pelvis square to the front.
Once you are used to getting your pelvis to the floor, then experiment with turning the back leg out. Careful with the back knee. Do this slowly.
To help work towards side-to-side splits, focus on pressing the back leg side of your pelvis downwards.
I've made fists in my version of this pose. At the time it felt cool.
Remember, while working towards the splits, keep your spine and neck long. Most particularly engage the front of your cervical spine, behind the throat.
For this variation of splits you can press the back shin into the wall. To prevent your back shin and leg from rolling inwards you can reach a hand back and place it to the inside of the lifted foot.
Learn how to use Friction to improve leg and arm strength.
Simple exercises with easy to follow instructions
Making difficult poses like Chaturanga Dandasana easier to learn.
Learn Your Body with
Frictional Arm and Leg Strength
PDF or Video
The standing forward bend yoga pose can be used to stretch or strengthen the hamstrings and glutes. It can also be used to stretch and strengthen the calves and as a balance exercise.
Yoga forward bends includes forwards bends for the hips and spine. Forward bends for the hips include both bent and straight straight positions.
Your iphone needs power in order to sense your touch. Proprioception needs muscle activity in order to sense your body.
Some simple exercises so that you can work towards the pistol squat gradually.
Arm supported yoga poses can be used to strengthen the arms and shoulders. Includes plank, chaturanga dandasana, downward dog, dolphin pose, side plank, wheel, reverse plank, table top pose.
This sequence of seated yoga poses includes lotus and virasana variations, janu sirsasana and marichyasana variations as well as more basic seated poses like bound angle, pigeon and seated forward bend.
These hip flexor stretches open up the fronts of the hips and can be used as a preparation for front to back splits. Bent knee hip stretches can be used to focus on rectus fermoris.
Strengthen your hands, your arms, glutes and hamstrings with these standing forward bend variations.
The small actions in this standing psoas stretch can be used to stretch both the upper and lower fibers of the psoas muscle.
Variations of the standing psoas stretch that use the same basic actions.
Here's a break down of the steps of Ashtanga Yoga Surya Namaskar A to make this sun salutation easier to learn and remember.
A reclining psoas stretch I learned from a Richard Freeman Workshop. The better you understand your anatomy the easier it is to work on your body effectively.
The hip stretches included on this page can be used to stretch and improve flexibility of the hip flexors, hip extensors, adductors and abductors.
Friction and pressure are two simple techniques that I use to help my students get stronger and more flexible. These simple techniques also offer a roadway into not only learning how to activate your muscles, but getting a feel for them and your body. Three challenging yoga poses that I use these techniques in are chaturanga, front splits and side splits. While they might not help you get all the way down into the splits, they'll help you feel stronger, and more integrated as you work towards them. And because I've got to pay for my daughters schooling this week, I'm offering a discount on the frictional muscle control videos. (First 100 people only can save over 30%).
Active stretching teaches you muscle control to not only improve flexibility but also body awareness. You'll learn how to adjust postures for better feel as well as more control through a broader range of motion.
Standing exercises for low back pain plus anatomy that can affect the low back and how to use that anatomical understanding.
Experience your body (and understand it) with sensational yoga poses.
Is it a bad idea to heel strike while barefoot running? What are the possible benefits of heel striking? When should you not heel strike?
These yoga poses for abs work on the abdominal muscles (and hips) in both standing positions and seated positions.
Here are the Ashtanga Standing Pose Vinyassas, with inhale movements highlighted in red.