Hamstrings are an important muscle group, when hamstrings are not strong, you will face the risk of back pain, knee pain and injury. Maintaining a daily yoga practice is a simple and effective way to increase hamstring strength.
The hamstring muscle is not a single muscle, it is a group of four muscles that run along the back of the thigh, helping to connect the pelvis and knee. The hamstring muscles are easily strained by repetitive movements or by sitting or standing in the wrong position. For adults, especially office workers, sitting a lot is easy to strain hamstrings. This condition can lead to the risk of back pain or sciatica.
Improving hamstring flexibility with yoga is a lengthy process that takes time and patience. Start slow and don’t force your body. If needed, you can use yoga equipment for support.
Here are yoga poses that help stretch hamstrings from basic to advanced. Please take a few minutes to look through and choose the poses that are suitable for your ability.
1. Supta Padangusthasana – Supta Padangusthasana
Lying on your back, pulling legs is a gentle and easy hamstring stretch. You can use a yoga band for support if your hamstrings are too tight. Specifically, you can use a rope to close the gap between your hands and feet, and help straighten your legs for the most effective exercise. If you don’t have a yoga band, you can use a belt, scarf, or towel instead.
2. Standing Pose – Uttanasana
Standing bent over is a pose that helps stretch hamstrings quite deeply and effectively. However, this pose is not suitable for people with back pain. Some yoga teachers will instruct the practitioner to slightly bend the knee if the back hurts during practice. This is true, but it makes the hamstring stretch ineffective.
If you’re having to bend your knees slightly because of back pain, you’re better off finding another position. Besides, you should not bend your knees too much to try to touch the floor because this is not the goal of this pose. Instead, try to keep your legs as straight as possible and let your arms hang loose or place yoga blocks underneath for support.
3. Wide Legs Bend Pose – Prasarita Padottanasana
This is a variation of the standing pose. A common mistake when performing is that practitioners tend to put their feet too far away and try to let their heads touch the floor.
To keep your hips safe, keep your shins at a 45-degree angle on each side. Although in this position you can easily touch the floor with your hands, you can still use yoga bricks for support if needed. Besides, to effectively stretch hamstrings, you should distribute your weight on your feet and heels.
4. Downward facing dog pose – Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward facing dog pose can affect many parts of the body, including the hamstrings. When practicing, many yogis make the mistake of trying to put their heels on the mat by moving their feet closer to their hands. Instead, you can place your feet on the mat, but your heels don’t need to touch the floor. This is the most effective way to stretch the hamstrings and calves.
5. Head-to-knee Pose – Janu Sirsasana
Usually, when you extend one leg and bend one leg in a knee-to-head position, it’s easier to bend and stretch the hamstrings than when you straighten both legs. If bending causes back pain, you can use a yoga rope around your feet, then use both hands to hold the ends of the rope, pull forward and keep the spine straight to avoid back pain.
6. Sitting Pose – Paschimottanasana
This is the sitting version of the standing bend. Just like other bends, you can use a yoga rope to keep your spine straight.
7. Wide-legged sitting posture – Upavistha Konasana
When practicing upavistha konasana with the goal of stretching the hamstrings, you don’t need to pay much attention to the bend. During the performance, you can also add a mattress or a yoga block under the buttocks to support better posture.
8. Pyramid Pose – Parsvottonasana
In bends like the pyramid pose, you need to keep your knees from being overextended. Although the legs may not look straight, it is safer and better for joint health. You can use yoga bricks placed at the bottom for support.
9. Trikonasana – Trikonasana
Just like pyramid pose, try not to stretch your knees too much when practicing triangle pose. You can rest your hands on your ankles, shins, the floor, or on a yoga block.
10. Half Moon Pose – Ardha Chandrasana
When performing the half-moon pose, try to adjust your front leg to the correct technique before raising your arms. The hips need to be in line with each other to make sure you can fully expand your chest. You can also place yoga bricks on the bottom of your hand to aid in performing the pose.
11. Standing with split legs
This pose is similar to the half moon pose, except that both hips are facing the floor. Don’t put too much emphasis on straightening your legs, instead, try to keep your hips straight. With your feet on the ground, try to keep them straight so you can effectively stretch your hamstrings.
12. Side lunge – Skandasana
Bends are certainly not the only way to stretch hamstrings. Remember that the hamstrings are made up of 4 muscles, and therefore, you will need to do a lot of work to get all 4 muscles working.
Skandasana is a great exercise for the inner upper thighs. Don’t think too much about how deep you can sit, as long as you don’t feel uncomfortable the exercise is still effective.
13. Twisted Triangle Pose – Parivrtta Trikonasana
Despite its name, twisted triangle pose, in essence, this pose looks more like a pyramid pose. The position of the legs is similar to the pyramid pose, the distance between the legs in length will be shorter but in width (from left to right) will be wider than the pose with triangle pose. In addition, the position of the hips is similar to that of a pyramid.
This is a difficult yoga pose, even for long-time yoga practitioners. You can place a yoga block under your hand to keep your hips from contracting.
14. Island Half Moon Pose – Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana
You can enter the half-moon pose from a standing split. Try to keep your hips down and place a yoga block under your hands. Open your chest towards the ceiling as much as possible while one leg is still lifted off the mat and parallel to the floor.
15. Vishnu sleeping position – Anantasana
It may seem simple, but keeping your body on your side with your hands grabbing your legs and straightening up toward the ceiling can be a real challenge to balance. You can use a yoga band for support if you can’t straighten your legs.
16. Standing Pose – Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
This position is similar to lying on your back, pulling your legs, but the difference is that you will do it in a standing position instead of lying on your back. This change will be much more difficult because you will have to balance on one leg.
Also, one of the biggest challenges when doing this pose is that you don’t lean back too much. You can try standing with your back against the wall to see how it feels.
17. Heron Pose – Krounchasana
You can easily do this if you lean back slightly, but this can cause the spine to sag. Ideally, you should keep your spine straight and can use a yoga rope for support if needed.
18. Bird of Paradise – Svarga Dvidasana
Straightening your legs in bird of paradise can be a huge challenge. However, it can be an amazing stretch for hamstrings.
19. Full Side Plank Pose – Vasistasana
This is an advanced yoga pose, so you need to be very careful when doing it. Besides, take the time to practice basic yoga movements to build the necessary elements for performing this movement. In particular, this pose is not only good for hamstrings but also increases core strength, balance, and arm strength.
20. Monkey Pose – Hanumanasana
Monkey Pose or Split Pose is definitely the best move to stretch the hamstring muscles. You can put blocks under the hand to start. Or when you’re almost on the floor, you can use the exercise block under the front thigh for stability.
Above are 20 yoga moves to help stretch hamstring muscles that easyhealthylive.com has collected. For more details on how to perform these 20 poses, you can immediately download easyhealthylive.com and connect directly with a professional yoga teacher or join classes in the LEEP affiliated network. APP for specific instructions!
20 Ways to Stretch Your Hamstrings With Yoga https://www.verywellfit.com/yoga-posses-for-hamstrings-4045013 Accessed: January 30, 2021
John Alen was born in 1971 and is a doctor in the healthcare and psychology fields with many years of experience. He is currently working at easyhealthylive.com, a leading health and psychology blog. Having studied at Y1 National Medical University named after IM Sechenov, John Alen is using his knowledge and experience to help improve the physical and mental health of people in the United States.