Jacquelyn Umof with Marcus Martinez on the Living.Fit Show

 

8 Hamstrings Stretches to Boost Your Yoga Practice

Jacquelyn Umof 

Hamstring flexibility plays a major role in your yoga practice development. Many people are after poses, like handstands, that require the posterior chain to be loose enough to achieve those challenging poses.

To access the full movement of your hamstrings, the yoga practice presents a series of increasingly difficult forward folds. Even reaching full boat pose (navasana) when working your core requires hamstring flexibility.

Two key principles are needed in order to safely attempt this movement — how to safely go deeper in your hamstring stretch, and how to relax all of the muscles that surround your hamstring — neither of the two is as easy as it sounds.

 

 

Each pose below will target a different area of the back of the legs to help loosen you up.

Most importantly, it’s important to never quickly enter or exit a stretch. Give the pose and your body the respect it deserves, and mindfully go into the stretch with patience and grace. Apply the same softness as you exit the pose as well. Never abruptly jolt out of a pose.

Read below for tips on each hamstring stretch.

Practice: Incorporate these stretches into your routine 2-3x per week. Do the stretches AFTER a heavy workout, not before. If you’re looking for a comprehensive daily program, check out my 30-Day Beginner Yoga Plan called Get Stretchy. 

PINKY TO PINKY FORWARD FOLD: Cross the legs so the pinkies are standing next to each other. If this is intense for you, use blocks to support your body under your hands. Pull the navel into your spine to support your lower back. Release the head and feel gravity stretching your spine towards the floor. Hold for 30 seconds – 1 minute, or up to 2 minutes if you are advanced. Breath. Repeat other side.



ONE LEGGED FORWARD FOLD: Pull one foot in, and line of foot to inner thigh. Start with a tall, seated position, with lower belly pulling in, and spine reaching towards the sky. Gently crawl fingertips forward until you can no longer keep your spine straight. Do not compromise the pose by hunching the back. Hold for 30 seconds – 1 minute, or up to 2 minutes if you are advanced. Breath. Repeat other side.



WIDE LEGGED TWIST: Start with a wide-legged forward fold. Feet should be outside of the hips. Place one hand down, and gently twist the torso up so opposite hand is reaching towards the sky. You may use a block under the bottom hand if this is too intense. Keep the hips, and be mindful that you are not sinking in one hip. Draw the belly in towards the spine to engage the abs so that you may twist. If available, look up towards the sky. Looking up is very intense, so if that’s too much keep the gaze down towards the floor. Expand wide across the chest, and breath. Hold for 30 seconds – 1 minute, or up to 2 minutes if you are advanced. Breath. Repeat other side.



HALF SPLIT: Start kneeling, then extend one leg out. If it is too intense to place the hands on the floor, then use blocks under the hands. Pull the navel in, so that you may lengthen the spine. Draw the shoulders down the back body, as the chest lifts high (i.e. no hunching). Keep the thigh of the extended leg engaged, and flex the toes back towards your shin. Hold for 30 seconds – 1 minute, or up to 2 minutes if you are advanced. Breath. Repeat other side.



HAPPY BABY POSE: Start lying on your back, and grab the outside of your feet. Feel like your standing on the wall, and your trying to get your thighs flat onto your stomach, with knees pressing into shoulders. It’s still wise to engage the lower belly to help protect the lower back. Soften the shoulders so neck is relaxed. Hold for 30 seconds – 1 minute, or up to 2 minutes if you are advanced. Breath.

Check out more interviews and articles from Marcus Martinez and Aaron Guyett in the blog, or get full versions by subscribing to our membership here:  https://www.living.fit/kettlebell-workout-plans-and-memberships



STRAIGHT SPINE SEATED FOLD: Start in a seated position, with legs extended of your hips, feet should be just a few inches apart. Start with a tall, long spine, with the lower belly pulled in spine to help protect the lower back and strong posture muscles. Reach the upper torso forward, thinking of elongating the spine up as you move forward. Reach for your toes, but if you can’t then use a strap around the balls of your feet and gently pull your torso towards your thighs. Do not compromise your posture to get your chest to thighs, instead focus on keeping the spine long. Hold for 30 seconds – 1 minute, or up to 2 minutes if you are advanced. Breath.

 



TWO WIDE-LEGGED FORWARD FOLD: Start seated with legs wide. Start with a tall, seated position, with lower belly pulling in, and spine reaching towards the sky. Gently crawl fingertips forward until you can no longer keep your spine straight. Do not compromise the pose by hunching the back. Keep your shoulders relaxed, and let the air you breathe gently move through your body to help release the tight areas. Hold for 30 seconds – 1 minute, or up to 2 minutes if you are advanced. Breath.

ONE-ARMED TWISTED DOWNDOG: Start in a downward dog. Your feet should be hip-distance apart, and hands shoulder-width apart. In downdog, pull the navel into your spine, with front bottom ribs drawing down (or up in the case) towards your hips, and hips are reaching up towards the sky. Once you feel stable, take one hand and grab the outside of your hand’s opposite ankle. Grab the outside of the ankle, or calf, depending on your level. If that feels ok for you, twist the upper torso from the navel, and pull your ankle so that your head can peak under your supporting shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds – 1 minute, or up to 2 minutes if you are advanced. Breath. Repeat other side.



For more about Jacquelyn Umof check out actionjacquelyn.com

 

Check out more interviews and articles from Marcus Martinez and Aaron Guyett in the blog, or get full versions by subscribing to our membership here:  https://www.living.fit/kettlebell-workout-plans-and-memberships

Close

50% Complete

Just Add Your Email

Add your email to be notified when share more awesome content about kettlebells, battle ropes, leadership and coaching!