Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana Standing Split Pose, Method, Benefits, Side Effects

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana is a pose in which the doer needs to split (or extend or expand) i.e. stretch out the upper portion of the body. This is one of the difficult asanas and demands extremely good flexibility of your legs, neck, back and the muscles therein. 

Word meaning

Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana or Standing Split Pose
Meaning –
Urdhwa = Upper (upright, erect)
Prasarita = Spread / Expand / Split / Extend / Stretched out
Eka = One
Pada = Foot
Asana = Pose, Posture

Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana is a pose in which the doer needs to split (or extend or expand) i.e. stretch out the upper portion of the body. This is one of the difficult asanas and demands extremely good flexibility of your legs, neck, back and the muscles therein.

Method

Method of doing Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana
Positioning for the Asana

  • Lift your left leg, Expand your right leg
  • Bend your torso towards right, while doing so, slowly exhale

Performing and getting to the Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana pose

Upward split with raising left lower limb

  • Slowly raise your left leg off the floor, into the air
  • Now gently lean forward while moving your torso towards your right thigh, as close as possible (depends on the flexibility you have).
  • While bringing your torso towards your thigh, slowly place both your hands on the floor to manage and balance your body weight. Now your right foot is in between the hands placed on the floor (place your hands on the floor such that they are one on either side of your right leg).
  • Now gently shift your body weight on your right leg. At the same time lift your left lower limb over your head. Make sure that the left lower limb is straight (do not bend your knee) as you lift it high in the air, above the head.
  • Make sure to rotate your hip joint and leg in a right way while performing this asana. Keep your pelvis parallel to the ground.
  • Remember to keep your both legs and knees erect.
  • To keep the left leg (in the air) in its position you should push your chest towards the right leg (lower limb).
  • Clasp your right foot firmly on the floor once you are sure of maintaining the flexibility. As your torso descends and moves closer to your right lower limb placed on the floor, it gives a lift to the left lower limb in the air. The left lower limb will ascend higher.
  • Now you have got into the Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana or Upward Split pose. In this position your left lower limb is straight and lifted high up in the air, is in the line of the torso. The torso is closer to your right lower limb. The weight of the body is balanced mainly on the right lower limb or right foot which is clasped to the floor and also partially on both the hands which you have kept pressing on the floor, one on either side of your right foot.
  • Keep yourself in this position for 30-60 seconds or even more as you get comfortable doing this asana with gradual practice.

Release from the asana

  • Gently breathe out.
  • While breathing out, gradually bring down your left lower limb towards the ground in an arc and place the left foot on the floor.
  • At the same time release your hands from the floor. Lift your torso from the proximity of your right lower limb and gradually raise your torso.
  • Come to the neutral position or the point of start of this asana.
  • Stand ease with erect spine, with feet placed close to each other and your upper limbs placed on the side of your torso such that the palms rest on your thighs.

Upward split with raising right lower limb

Now the same steps are followed by keeping the left foot on the floor and raising your right lower limb.

  • Slowly raise your right leg off the floor, into the air
  • Now gently lean forward while moving your torso towards your left thigh, as close as possible.
  • While bringing your torso towards your thigh, slowly place both your hands on the floor to manage and balance your body weight. Now your left foot is in between the hands placed on the floor.
  • Gently shift your body weight on your left leg. At the same time lift your right lower limb over your head. Your right lower limb should be straight as you lift it high in the air, above the head.
  • Rotate your hip joint and leg in a right way while performing this asana. Keep your pelvis parallel to the ground.
  • Remember to keep your both legs and knees erect.
  • To keep the right leg (in the air) in its position you should push your chest towards the left leg (lower limb).
  • Clasp your left foot firmly on the floor once you are sure of maintaining the flexibility. As your torso descends and moves closer to your left lower limb placed on the floor, it gives a lift to the right lower limb in the air. The right lower limb will ascend higher.
  • Now you have got into the Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana or Upward Split pose. In this position your right lower limb is straight and lifted high up in the air, is in the line of the torso. The torso is closer to your left lower limb. The weight of the body is balanced mainly on the left lower limb or left foot which is clasped to the floor and also partially on both the hands which you have kept pressing on the floor, one on either side of your left foot.
  • Keep yourself in this position for 30-60 seconds or even more as you get comfortable doing this asana with gradual practice.

Release from the asana

  • Gently breathe out.
  • While breathing out, gradually bring down your right lower limb towards the ground in an arc and place the right foot on the floor.
  • At the same time release your hands from the floor. Lift your torso from the proximity of your left lower limb and gradually raise your torso.
  • Come to the neutral position or the point of start of this asana.
  • Stand ease with erect spine, with feet placed close to each other and your upper limbs placed on the side of your torso such that the palms rest on your thighs.

Right split and left split together will constitute a round of Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana.

Variants in method

Variants in beginning of Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana
Start with Tadasana and Adho Mukha Shwana Asana

The asana can be started from Tadasana. From Tadasana (Mountain Pose) you should take to Adho Mukha Shwanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose). From Adho Mukha Shwana Asana, you can do the standing split pose by lifting the left lower limb up in the air (while supporting the body weight on the right foot and both hands placed on the floor) followed by lift of right lower limb (while supporting the body weight on the left foot and both hands placed on the floor), thus completing one round of Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Pada Asana.

For better effect, you can walk backwards on your hands towards left foot and align your torso over the left thigh while lifting the right lower limb. After this, you can come back to the Adho Mukha Shwana Asana, walk on your hands backwards, align your torso over the right lower limb placed on the floor and slowly lift your left lower limb, thus finishing a cycle or round of Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Pada Asana.

Start with Virabhadrasana or Warrior pose

You can start with Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose I or II). From this pose, bend forwards towards your right foot and place your hands on the floor. At the same time gradually left lower limb (keeping it straight) above your head. Meanwhile move your torso close to your right foot. While releasing, bring your left lower limb down, and gradually raise your torso and upper limbs to the neutral point (point of start). Relax and repeat the same steps by keeping your left lower limb on the floor and lifting your right upper limb off the floor above your head. Come back to the neutral and relax. Right and Left splits together form a round.

Similarly this asana can be started with Vajrasana, followed by Adho Mukha Shwanasana and then doing Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Pada Asana as explained earlier.

Purva Asanas

Purva Asanas (Preparatory Asanas)
Before Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padansana, you can do one or more of the below mentioned Asanas –


Before Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padansana, you can do one or more of the below mentioned Asanas –

  • Uttana Asana (Standing Forward Bend Pose)
  • Pada Angushta Asana (Big Toe Pose)
  • Prasarita Pada Uttana Asana (Wide Legged Forward Bend Pose)
  • Adho Mukha Shwanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
  • Paschima Uttana Asana (Seated Forward Bend Pose)
  • Supta Pada Angushta Asana (Reclining Big Toe Pose)

Paschat Asanas

Paschat Asanas (Post-Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana Poses)
After performing Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padansana, you can perform Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

What time should be spent in the pose while doing Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana?
Doing this asana and splitting your body is difficult but you can gain mastery over it with constant practice. You can keep yourself in that position for 20-30 seconds, or more than that depending on the balance of your body which you can sustain. Stay in the asana as long as you feel comfortable and balanced.

Health Benefits

Health Benefits of Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana
Below mentioned are the benefits of Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana –

  • Improves your balance
  • Strengthens and stretches your hamstring muscles, calf muscles, quadriceps muscles and groins
  • Stretches and strengthens your spine
  • Stimulates liver and kidney, regularizes their functions
  • Good remedy for headache, anxiety, insomnia and mild depression
  • Enhances your focusing power and concentration
  • Relieves body fatigue
  • Removes tension from and relaxes your cervical spine, relieves neck pain

Impact on Chakras

Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana stimulates, activates and balances Swadishtana Chakra (Sacral Chakra).

Contraindications and precautions

Who should not do? (Contraindications and precautions for doing Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana)
Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana should be avoided in the below mentioned conditions –

  • High Blood pressure
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Migraine
  • Severe low back pain or back injury
  • Hip injury
  • Ankle injury
  • Knee injury
  • Shoulder injury

Related Video
Watch this video to follow the method of doing Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana

Starting from Padmasana and Adho Mukha Shvana Asana

Starting from Adho Mukha Shvana Asana

Starting from Adho Mukha Shvana Asana and Virabhadra Asana

Effect on Doshas

Effect of Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana on Doshas and their subtypes
Provides Vata-Kapha integrity and synchronization – By providing the balance between Vata and Kapha, Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana improves one’s balance. It also enhances power of focus, concentration and memory. It provides relief from insomnia, anxiety and depression.

Balances Udana Vayu – By balancing Udana Vayu, this asana provides strength and relieves from body fatigue.

Strengthens and balances the Apana Vayu – By strengthening and balancing Apana Vayu and Swadishtana Chakras, Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana strengthens the urinary and genital systems. It stimulates sexual organs and enables one to enjoy the bliss of sex.

Effect on Dhatus

Effect of Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana on Dhatus
Strengthens Asthi Dhatu and Sandhi – Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana is a good posture to improve the strength of the bones and joints. It also strengthens and effectively stretches the spine, relaxes the neck bones and joints and relieves neck and back pain.

Strengthens the Mamsa Dhatu – This asana strengthens the hamstring muscles, calf muscles, quadriceps muscles and groins.

Just Before Finish
In this article I have covered in depth the procedure of performing Urdhwa Prasarita Eka Padasana including its health benefits. The asana is not an easy one to do but bestows on you good health benefits. Apart from providing strength and stretch to the lower limbs, muscles and spine but also provides solace to mind.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu) – Email / skype

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