Tight hamstrings are a key problem area for so many of us. Especially I find at this time of year as the weather gets colder, and everything just feels a little less flexible! As much as it’s great to be able to touch your toes, tight hamstrings can also cause issues and are a leading cause of lower back pain and tension in the body!
So here are my favourite 5 poses to get you feeling nice and loose and help those toes get a little closer;
- Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana):
Stand feet hip width apart. Keep the knees soft and fold over the thighs. Keep a bend in the knees until your stomach rests onto your thighs & hold here for at least 30 seconds. If this is quite easy, try in the same position, pressing your back against a wall by walking towards it in your fold, or try seated.
- Butterfly (Badhakonasana):
Seated, bend your knees and bring the soles of the feet together. Have the legs away from you so they make a square shape. Make sure seat bones are grounded and then fold forwards from the hips over the legs. Relax the upper body. If you feel like your hips are tilted backwards, raise the hips onto a cushion or block.
- Half Butterfly (Janu Sirsasana):
Stretching one leg out in front of you, and the other leg makes a tree pose shape with the sole of the foot pressing onto the inside seam of the stretched leg above the knee. Ground the seat bones and fold forwards over the leg allowing the back to round and soften. Again if you feel like your hips are tilted backwards, raise the hips on a cushion or block.
- Kneeling Split Stretch (Hanumanasana):
Kneeling high, hips above knees, stretch one leg in front of you. Flex your toes towards you. Keeping a straight spine hinge at the hips to lean forwards over the straight leg. Use blocks under the hands if you need too, or hands come to the ground. If you need a deeper stretch slide the front leg forwards into full splits.
- Laying Split Stretch:
Lying on your back, bend your knees taking the soles of your feet to the ground. Stretch one leg straight, up to the sky holding the back of your thigh with your hand to guide the leg towards you. If you need a deeper stretch straighten the bent knee leg along the ground. For a fun variation – Hamstring Hammock, use a strap tied in a big loop, hook one end of the loop around the sole of the lifted leg, and the other end of the loop around the back of the head. Your head should be held off the floor.
Hamstrings are a sensitive area, so ease into these stretches slowly, and release out slowly. You should never be in any pain, and you should always be feeling the sensation in the belly or middle of the muscle. Hold for a couple of minutes to see the best results. And remember – Yoga isn’t about being flexible so don’t be too harsh on yourself!!
Let me know how you guys get on and if you have any questions!