May 13 2021 – Jade Hunter
Whether you are at the beginning of your yoga journey or an experienced practitioner, our hamstrings can have a tendency to feel tight or inflexible, especially if we are doing yoga early in the morning!
Try these simple tips to nurture and open up tight hamstrings:
1. Trigger point therapy on feet
The plantar fascia on the soles of our feet effect the entire back of our body through the connective tissue. So taking a few moment to use a massage ball to roll out under our feet each morning will help hydrate the fascia and improve our hamstring flexibility. Try our 100% sustainable cork massage balls to hydrate your plantar fascia every day
2. Disengage the muscles
When we are pulling and forcing our body into hamstring opening poses, we are teaching our body to feel stress and resistance. If we softly lean into the sensation and practice breathing to disengage and loosen the muscles then our body will deepen into the postures organically, without any stiffness afterward.
3. Calm breathing
Our flexibility is governed by our nervous system, if our body thinks we are moving into a position that might cause damage, it sends signals to that muscle to not allow us any further, because we haven't stretched that far before and it wants to protect us. If we use the breath to relax our body and signal to our nervous system that it is okay, we can soften a little more deeply. Each time you calmly discover a new depth is a way of telling your body that it's okay to release the muscles and allow the stretch the next time you try that pose.
4. Use Yin yoga or longer holds
When we move too quickly out of a pose, the muscles don't have time to adapt and explore the sensations. Yin Yoga holds poses for 3-5 minutes so that you can experience the depth of each position and allow the body to loosen up.
5. Do something every day
Even if you don't have time for a full practice, if tight hamstrings hold you back then it's important to prioritise this area and spend even just a few breaths each day in a forward fold that feels nourishing and opening for the area.
Remember don't force it! Hamstrings are particularly vulnerable to injury, especially if you are not properly warmed up. Move into yoga poses mindfully and use your breath to deepen poses, rather than sheer force!
Here are some of our favourite poses for tight hamstrings:
Assisted Ardha Uttanasana - Forward fold with blocks - Warm up the area using blocks or a chair as support for an assisted forward fold.
Uttanasana - Forward fold - As you feel more comfortable you can release into a standing forward fold, lengthening the spine and then folding, letting the head relax and nodding and shaking the head slowly to ensure your neck isn't tense.
Parsvottanasana - Pyramid stretch (split legs) - Stepping one foot forward and making sure the feet are wider than your hips, you can stretch the hamstrings gently by keeping your hips in line as you fold over a straight front leg.
Ardha hanumanasana - Half splits - Try using the breath to flow here, inhaling to find a lunge pose and straightening the front leg as you exhale and melt the hips towards the back heel. After a few breaths in flow, you can hold in half splits for 5 - 10 breaths, using the back knee as support.
Prasarita Padottanasana - Wide leg forward fold (pyramid shape from front)- Awaken your inner thighs with this stretch. Start gradually, using blocks for support and slowly fold as mobility and flexibility increases over time.
Our cork yoga blocks are a great way to bring the floor closer to you and offer the support you need as you ease into these poses.