Hamstrings are an important muscle for all yoga practitioners. The muscle originates from the base of the gluts (buttocks) and inserts behind the knee. It’s the muscle behind the thigh bone. A large, primal and often stubborn muscle. We have all experienced this muscle at some point. If not, try standing up and touching your toes, where do you feel it the most? Maybe in your gluts or behind the thigh – say hello to your hamstrings!
Our hamstrings could be tight for several reasons – maybe genetics, lifestyle, activity or even non-activity, injury etc… Whatever the reason for tight hamstrings, know that asana (physical practice) has lots of poses that will help to open and stretch out the hamstrings.
Why stretch the hamstring?
- It will help keep blood circulation going
- It will help you perform better in everyday life
- Relieves strain on lower back
- Corrects bad posture
- Maintains healthy joints in the lower limbs
While there are many yoga poses that can help. We want to share our most favorite pose. It is called “Supta Padangustasana” meaning supine hand to big toe pose. Let’s examine this pose closely.
- Start by lying down, with feet together and bent knees. Keep a yoga belt or strap close by.
- Keeping the spine straight, slowly straighten the right leg leading with the heel. Press the thigh down to the mat and keep the right toes pointing straight up.
- Now draw the left knee to the chest and throw the strap over the foot. Make sure that it is placed over the big and little toe mound and not on the arch of the foot.
- Now press the leg up towards the ceiling till the leg is completely straight. Make sure both sides of the feet are even.
- Keep the toes spread or flexed. This will activate the entire leg muscles even more.
- Keep both hips even and do not tilt to one side.
- Arms are straight on the belt, with both hands holding the belt comfortably.
- To get most out of this pose. Keep pressing up into the belt on exhalations.
- Hold for a minute and repeat on the other leg.
That’s part 1 of the pose. You can choose to add the next version as well. This is more of a hip stability pose as well as a glut stretch.
- From the previous pose mentioned above, hold the two ends of the belt with only the right hand. Keep the arm as straight as possible and rest the left hand on the hip bone on the left.
- On an exhale, slowly start to lower the leg to the right side but move the leg diagonally as if its moving towards the right shoulder without bending the knee.
- Go as far as you can without tilting or rolling to the side with the opposite hip. The chest should be parallel to the ceiling. The straight leg on the floor should not bend or lift.
- As you hold the pose, keep pressing the leg into the belt to keep the leg fully active
- Hold for a minute and repeat on the other side.
If this pose is practiced regularly with sincerity it will undoubtedly increase hamstring flexibility! Try it, share it with friends and loved ones and leave a comment below about your own experience. Stay tuned for more poses like this….