Are you someone that suffers with tight hamstrings? Maybe you’re a runner? Maybe you lift weights, you cycle, you hike, you sit at a desk all day? Maybe you do none of those things, but just suffer with tight hamstrings. If so, give these five yoga postures for tight hamstrings a go. Remember that flexibility doesn’t happen over night, so sadly these stretches aren’t going to make you super mobile after just one day.
I recommend trying some of my yoga flows on YouTube. They’re totally free, with sequences ranging from 10 minutes to 1 hour long. When it comes to your hamstrings, give one of these ones a try…
And if you already have a home yoga practice, try adding these yoga postures for tight hamstrings to your routine…
STANDING FORWARD FOLD
This is a stretch that I like to do for 1-3 minutes near the start of all my practices. Stand with the feet hip width apart and let the hips hinge into the forward fold. If you’re living in a tighter body, take a bend in the knees. Take hold of opposite elbows, as this will give gravity a helping hand, working you a little deeper into the stretch. Shifting the weight into the balls of the feet will also allow for a deeper stretch, whilst keeping the muscles switched on.
One of the classic seated postures in the Ashtanga primary series and therefore a posture used frequently in vinyasa classes, Janu Sirsanana is a great forward fold to help lengthen the hamstrings. Pop a yoga block, cushion or folded blanket underneath your bum if a little tighter, inhale and sit tall and then exhale as you draw the belly towards the thighs. It’s important to keep the spine as straight as possible, so think less about how low you can get, but instead think about how far forward you can reach the crown of the head. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths. To help with the spine lengthening you can use a strap.
Move from a right side low lunge into ardha hanumanasana (half split pose) by shifting the bottom back towards the heel and drawing the right hip back into the body, keeping the hips square. Keep the right foot flexed and hinge at the hips for a forward fold if the body allows for it on an exhale. If you’re a little tight you can prop a block either side of you to keep yourself balanced. Try to keep the spine and neck in one long line as you work into the forward fold. Hold for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the left side.
Another classic seated posture and one of my favourite yoga postures for tight hamstrings, especially when I have a good teacher helping me to get even deeper into it. If you’re living in a slightly tighter body, be sure to sit upon a block to give the pelvis more and hip flexors more space to move. As you inhale draw tall through the torso, then exhale as you fold forward into the stretch. Just like Janu Sirsasana, you can use a strap here to guide yourself deeper and to help assist in keeping your spine long. If you’re looking to get even deeper in the stretch, put a block behind your feet and try to bind in front of that rather than binding just around the feet.
DOWNWARD FACING DOG
Downward facing dog doesn’t just stretch out the hamstrings, it also draws focus to the calves, the ankles, the spine and the shoulders. It’s not an easy stretch to get right, but let’s start with the foundations. Wrists are placed directly under the shoulders, feet hip-width apart, spread and ground down through the fingers and draw the heels down towards to mat. The heels do not need to be on the mat, it’s just a gesture of where they’re heading.
Take a bend in the knees if you’re a little tight, as this will help you to find more length in the spine. From here we can then look at drawing the shoulder blades down the back, rotating the sit bones up towards the sky and soften the ribs. There are so many alignment cues for downward facing dog, but it’s important to get the basics correct first. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Love, Cat x