Hamstrings are a collection of three muscles located on the backside of your thighs.
Everyday movements, such as walking, running, kicking, squatting, and jumping, are made possible because of this threesome. Theses diligent muscles bend your knees, assist in the extension of your hips, and help to rotate your lower legs.
Tight hamstrings are very common and usually a result of a weak core, glutes, and quads. Proven to lead to problems with your low back, hips, and knees, tight hamstrings can seriously impede your mobility and limit your freedom of movement.
This three pose sequence will guide you into the proper alignment to fully access your hamstrings. Take a moment to observe the illustration above. Note the length and connection points of all three hamstring muscles. As you work through each pose, stay active in your movement as you work to gently release and lengthen your hamstrings.
Remember these muscles work all day long. Treat yourself with kindness when practicing this sequence. Honor your bodies limitations, mindfully approach each movement with care, and support all of your movements with an engaged core. Wheather you are a beginner or an expert, it is always important to protect your body from injury.
Let's get started!
Step your feet hips-width distance. Close your eyes and take a moment to connect with your breath. Take 5 steady inhales and exhales to center the mind. Focus on the expansion of your diaphragm. When you are ready, softly bend your knees. On an inhale, take a slight hinge in your hips. On your exhale, gently roll down the length of your spine until your fingers touch the floor (bend your knees more if necessary). Great, you are in the pose, now let's refine this shape:
- Lift the toes off the mat and spread your ball mounds wide. Press energy into the balls of your feet.
Gently bend your knee to protect your hamstrings from tugging or locking up.
Align your knees above ankles.
Drape your chest over your legs
Reach your fingers towards the ground
You can talk your pinkies into the crux of your elbow and create a little frame for your head.
- Press into your feet, gently flex your quads and reach your hamstrings up towards the sky.
- Pull your belly in and reach the crown of your head towards the ground.
After 3 minutes, transition into downward facing dog...
Downward Facing Dog
Engage your low belly to support your back. Walk your hands forward on the floor until you create a triangle shape with your body- your feet and hands create the base and your hips/tailbone are the tips. If your hamstrings are tight or you feel pinching in your low back, softly bend your knees.
- Press your hands wide into the mat— imagine that you are sliding the front of your mat forward with your hands and drag the mat backward with the mounds of your feet.
- Draw your forearms towards each other.
- Stretch and firm your biceps.
- Glide your shoulder blades away from your neck.
- Lengthen the sides of your ribs.
- Tuck your low belly to your back.
- Focus on the tip of your triangle- reach your tailbone diagonally to the wall behind you while you press down through your heels.
- Lift your quads up away from your knee.
- Squeezing your inner thighs towards each other and gently press them towards the wall behind you.
Draw your focus to the three muscles that make up your hamstring. Direct your breath here. With each inhale slowly lengthen the backs of your legs by subtly reaching your hips to the sky. With each exhale deepen your stretch by softly pressing your heels towards the earth.
After 3 minutes walk your hands back to your feet, bend your knees, and gently roll up your spin on an inhale. Place your hands on your hips.
- Step your feet three to four feet apart.
- Align your heels so that your feet are parallel to each other.
- Pivot on your right heel to turn your right foot 90 degrees-- so your toes are pointing to the top of the mat.
- Check that the center of your right kneecap is aligned with the center of your right ankle.
- Pivot your left foot slightly inwards to create a 45-degree angle with your back foot.
- Hoover your arms to shoulder height- press your palms toward the floor as your reach long through your fingertips.
- On an exhale, reach your right hand forward as you shift your left hip backward.
- Subtly point your tailbone downward, angle it towards the back corner of your left outer heel.
- Draw your low belly into engagement.
- reach your right fingers forward as you hinge over your right hip- support your low back by reach long through side waist.
- Support your waistline with a strong core as your reach your right fingertips to rest on the inside of your shin
- If you are flexible, place your right fingertips or palm on the floor to the outside of your right shin.
- Assure that your left shoulder is stacked directly above your right shoulder.
- Gently turn your chin towards your right thumb.
- Pull your belly in. Lengthen your tailbone toward your back heel. Reach through your fingers.
- Press your shoulder blades down your back and expand your collar bones.
- Press both heels into the floor. Squeeze your inner thighs towards each other. Firm up your front leg. Breathe.
Hold for one minute. To exit this pose: place your hands on your hips, soften your knees. On a inhale, use your core to gently lift your torso until it stacks on top of your hips. Gently walk your feet back to standing hips-width distance apart. Close your eyes. Enjoy 5 breathes. Repeat on your left side.
Looking to continue to build your body awareness, mental clarity, and strength with yoga, but want to be guided through the practice like you are in a class? Check out my the Live Love Balance Beginner Series.
Sending you happy and healthy hamstring vibes!