I avoid working on my hamstrings like the plague because it’s what I need to work on the most. I have always had extremely tight hamstrings and no matter what I did or how much I stretched, they never seemed to loosen up. Practicing yoga is the first time I have actually seen and felt a difference in them, and it definitely didn’t happen overnight! After about 8 months of solid practice (3-5 times a week) I can actually touch my toes without wanting to cry.
Certain poses helped me more than others, so I wanted to share them with you and hope you benefit from them as much as I have! I incorporate these poses every single time I practice, whether it’s through a flow or I just run through them on an easier/slower day. You’ll notice I’m no where near the point of keeping my knees straight and folding down all the way. This is a struggle for me and a particular part of my body that needs a little more TLC than the rest. Surprisingly these photos are an improvement from what I could do a few months ago! I try to hold these poses longer than usual–about 10 slow and steady breaths. If your body is screaming at you, don’t hold it long. Listen to your body, you should feel tightness-not pain.
Inhales: Imagine your breath flowing through the space where you feel a lot of tightness
Exhales: Imagine the release of tightness and try to deepen the stretch a tiny bit more. [For example, in Pyramid Pose when you exhale try to bring your chest towards your leg a little more. If you physically can’t, still imagine it!]
Remember it’s okay to keep a bend in your knees if you have super tight hamstrings (like me) eventually we will be able to keep them straight! Don’t forget to do each pose on both sides.
1. Ragdoll Pose
2. Extended Triangle Pose
3. Splits Prep
4. Wide-Legged Forward Fold
5. Seated Forward Fold
6. Pyramid Pose