This Yoga Sequence Will Loosen Up Insanely Tight Hamstrings
Running and crazy-tight hamstrings seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly| but it doesn’t have to be that way! Hop on your mat after a run and do this short yoga sequence. It not only targets the backs of the legs| but also increases flexibility in the lower back and hips u2014 opening those areas is essential to decreasing tightness in the hamstrings.
| Wide-Legged Tipover Tuck
- Stand with your feet three to four feet apart| with the heels slightly wider than the toes.
- Inhale to interlace your hands behind you| pressing the heels of your palms together in a double fist. If this hurts your shoulders| hold opposite elbows instead.
- As you exhale| fold forward at the hips. Keep the legs straight| pressing your weight forward into your toes. Hold for five deep breaths (about 30 seconds).
| Extended Wide Squat
- From Wide-Legged Tipover Tuck| step your back foot to the front of your mat| bend the knees| and lower into a Wide Squat.
- Extend your arms in front of you and relax the head| feeling the stretch in your hips and lower back for five breaths.
- From Extended Wide Squat| slowly stand up with the feet hips-width distance apart.
- Fold the torso and rest the hands on the thighs| shins| or on the floor if you can reach.
- Shift weight forward into the toes to intensify the stretch in the backs of the legs.
- Stay like this for five deep breaths| nodding the head up and down and from side to side to release the neck.
- From Standing Forward Bend| hold the right big toe with the first two fingers and thumb of the right hand. Rest your left hand on the left hip.
- Shift weight into the left foot| and on an inhale| come to stand| raising the right leg into the air. If it’s too hard with the right leg straight| just bend the knee and focus on standing tall to open the hamstring on the standing leg.
- Tuck your tailbone in so your torso is in line with your standing leg. Hold for five breaths.
- From Standing Hand to Big Toe A| rotate your right leg out to the side| gazing over your left shoulder (bend the knee if you need to).
- Pull the right toes as high as you can| holding here for five deep breaths.
- From Standing Hand to Big Toe B| bring the right leg back to center. Bend the knee| lean forward| and kick the leg behind you.
- Reach your left arm out in front of you. Try to keep your chest open and your bottom leg straight.
- Enjoy this pose for five breaths.
- From Dancer| release hold of the right leg and step it forward so there is about three feet between your feet.
- Fold forward over your straight right leg| resting your hands on the hips or on either side of the front leg| breathing deeply for five breaths.
- From Intense Side Stretch| plant the palms on either side of the right foot.
- Kick the right leg behind you| coming into Three-Legged Dog.
- Take a breath in| and as you exhale| slowly lower the right foot toward the floor beside your left foot| but before it touches the ground| swing it back up to the right| making a circle and coming back to Three-Legged Dog.
- Repeat| circling the leg for a few breaths in this direction| and then reverse the direction of your circles for another few breaths.
- From Circling Three-Legged Dog| step your right foot forward beside your right hand| and lower your left knee to the floor| pointing the toes.
- Slowly lower your right knee to the right| so you’re resting on the outside of your right flexed foot. Keep your arms straight| pressing your chest forward to encourage your hips to lower| increasing the stretch.
- Gaze forward| and enjoy this pose for five breaths.
- From Open Lizard| draw the right knee back in| shift weight back| bending your left knee and straightening your right leg (the photo illustrates the other side).
- Fold toward your straight right leg coming into an easier variation of Split. If you need more of a stretch| inch the right heel away from you| lowering the hips toward the ground.
- You by no means need to go all the way down into a full Split! Hold wherever you feel a deep stretch in the right hamstring for five breaths.
- From Split or the Split Variation| rotate your torso so your shoulders are over the hips| lowering your tush to the floor| keeping the legs in a wide straddle.
- Turn to the right leg and fold over the thigh| breathing deeply for five breaths.
- From One-Legged Seated Straddle| bend your left knee| and place the sole of your foot against your right inner thigh| pulling your heel as close to your body as you can (the photo illustrates the other side).
- Stay folded over your right leg. Rest your hands on the floor on either side of your leg| on your shin| or wrap your hands around your right foot.
- Stay here for five breaths.
- From Head to Knee| sit up| keep the left knee bent. Bend your right knee| placing it on top of the left ankle. Your knees| shins| and ankles should be stacked with the shins parallel.
- To make this pose more intense| place your hands in front of your shins and walk them out as far as you can| folding your chest toward your legs.
- Stay here for five breaths.
- From Double Pigeon hold onto your lower right leg| and lie down with the left knee bent| and your left foot planted firmly on the floor.
- Raise your right leg into the air| holding behind the thigh| calf| the big toe| or place a strap over the arch of your foot.
- Keep your torso relaxed| and hold for five breaths.
- From Reclining Big Toe Pose| extend the left leg along the floor. Then lower the right leg out to the side.
- Gaze to the left| staying here for five breaths.
- From Reclining Big Toe B| hold onto your big toes and straighten your legs out as wide as you can.
- Keep your head and shoulders relaxed on the floor| enjoying this stretch for five deep breaths.
- Then bend the knees into the chest| rocking over the spine from head to tailbone. Rock all the way up to a standing position and repeat this sequence on the left side.
| Standing Forward Bend
| Standing Hand to Big Toe A
| Standing Hand to Big Toe B
| Intense Side Stretch
| Circling Three-Legged Dog
| Open Lizard
| One-Legged Seated Straddle
| Head to Knee
| Double Pigeon
| Reclining Big Toe A
| Reclining Big Toe B
| Reclining Straddle