5 Poses for Happy Hamstrings

Let’s be real. Our poor hamstrings have it tough!

We spend a lot of time sitting in our day to day lives.
At our jobs, in transit, watching TV, spending quality Internet time, eating, taking a dump… This can really fuck up the hamstrings (which are already pretty easy to piss off anyways)!
 

So we’re going to get straight to the point:
Your hamstrings need some love and attention!

Here are some awesome poses, from Lindsay of Rage Yoga, to get you moving reconnecting you with those lovely hamstrings. ...You may have a lot of catching up to do!


1- Wide Legged Forward Fold

Why It’s Awesome:
Here we’re targeting the hamstring and the inner thigh muscles. Also, a wide legged stance give you more balance so you can fully relax in this pose.

Precautions and Modifications:
If your legs are super tight then feel free to take a bend in the knees! Also, come up slowly if you are prone to dizziness. If you have a heart condition or high blood pressure then bring your body parallel to the ground for a half fold.

Do The Thing:
Begin standing with feet wider than the width of your mat. Let the toes turn outwards if it feels natural. Exhale, take a deep bend in the knees, letting the spine curve forward and bringing your hands towards the ground. Inhale, slowly lift hips up and back, working towards straightening the knees. To exit, bend legs and bring your weight back to center. Slowly stack the vertebrae and roll back up to your standing position. 

Extra Awesome Sauce:
Why not play around while you’re hanging out? You can sway dat body gently back and forth or from side to side. 

2- Hamstring Stretch

Why It’s Awesome:
Your hamstrings might be yelling at you in this pose…. but they’re going to love you for it later!

Precautions and Modifications:
This pose can be pretty bloody intense! Go slow and go to wherever feels right for your body. This pose looks different on everyone! Some people keep the hips high. Some bring them down to the heels. Some keep a deep bend in the front leg. Find what works for you and then do more of that.

Do The Thing:
Start off in a Low Lunge position. Bring your hands to on either side of the front foot. Next, on the exhale, slowly pull the hips back towards the back heel and let the front foot flex, pointing the toes towards the ceiling. Inhale, pause here and check in with how this feels. This pose can be pretty intense so go slow! Exhale, deepen ever so slightly by slowly working towards straightening the front leg, rotating the tailbone gently upwards, and lowering the upper body. Pausing on the inhales, depending and exploring on the exhales. If you find a “good spot” the feel free to enjoy some stillness. To exit, return back to a Low Lunge.

Extra Awesome Sauce:
You can also explore some more depth in this pose by slowly taking your hips form side to side. This allows you to target all of the hamstring muscles (you have three)!

3- Single Leg Stretches

Why It’s Awesome:
This pose directly targets the hamstring muscles. It also helps with digestion and is said to be a relaxing pose.

Precautions and Modifications:
If you have exceptionally tight hamstrings then be careful with them! You can also modify this pose by taking a yoga block and placing it on the extended leg to rest your head on. This can help you fully relax into this pose.

Do The Thing:
Begin in a seated position, with both legs stretched out in front of you and feet flexed. Keeping one leg extended, move the other so that the bottom of the foot is resting on the inside of the first’s thigh. Square hips and shoulders towards the extended foot, and lengthen the spine. From here, slowly begin to walk to hands towards the extended foot, keeping the back straight and lining the spine over top of the leg. Lower as far as is comfortable with a straight back. One you find the “edge” of discomfort, let the body curve. Keep walking hands forward as the body relaxes.

Extra Awesome Sauce:
To explore targeting different muscles, you can try walking your hands to outside of that forward leg. 

4- Seated Forward Fold

Hams 4.jpg

Why It’s Awesome:
Stretches hips and hamstrings. This is also a very calming pose that can even help with digestion!

Precautions and Modifications:
If you have a groin or hamstring injury, keep a slight bend in the knees. You can also modify this pose by using a yoga block or rolled up blanket between your head and your legs.

Do The Thing:
Start seated on the floor with your legs stretched out long in front of you. Bring your feet together and take a second to make your ass comfortable, perhaps shifting them cheeks. Bring your hands beside you and lengthen your spine, sitting up nice and tall. Next, slowly walk your hands forward, lowering your upper body while maintaining your straight posture. Go down as far as you can with this straight back until you find the “edge” of the stretch. Pause for a breath here. Next, let your body curve and melt into the pose. Keep walking the hands forward as your body relaxes deeper into the pose.

Extra Awesome Sauce:
You can deepen this pose by turning your tailbone up slightly. A little bit goes a long way!

5- Happy Baby

Why It’s Awesome:
This is a great hip opener and is also helpful for minor lower back pain. This pose is also very calming and is helpful to combat insomnia as well as stress.

Precautions and Modifications:
If your hips are super tight then reaching the feet may not be possible. Grab on to the back of the thighs or the ankles instead!

Do The Thing:
Begin by laying on your back. Pull knees into towards the body and then let them go wide to the sides of your torso. Straight up the bottom of the legs so that your feet are facing up towards the ceiling. Grab either the backs of your thighs, your ankles, the outsides of your feet, or hook on to your toes. Really… wherever is comfortable to reach! Pull down gently so that your knees come closer to the ground. 

Extra Awesome Sauce:
Enjoy some stillness in your Happy Baby or rock back and forth a bit to give yourself a gentle back massage in what I like to call “Slightly Disgruntled Baby”. You can also try holding on to one foot and while you either extend the other leg to the ground or bend the knee and plan the foot flat for a Half Happy Baby. 


Well there you have it! 
Remember that hamstrings are pretty stubborn and easy to anger. So go slow and only go as far as is comfortable! Also, you’ll have to stick with it in order to see results.

Try to do these poses at least 2x a week.
Those who are newer to hamstring stretches often say (especially in the beginning) that “it sucks!” If it seems torturous, try making it more fun by watching or listening to something! You can multitask with TV show, audiobook, some tunes, a podcast, etc. Using something like this to keep yourself entertained can be a great way to start building up the habit. And the good news is that, with practice, eventually it sucks less! It can even become pretty fucking awesome.

So get the mat and give it a go!

Also, if you'd like to practice Rage Yoga online then head on over to www.rageyoga.com and check our online courses out! If they're not open right now then you can sign up to be notified when they are... and you might even get a VIP discount code for when they do open up again!

Check it out!

Stay badass & rage on,
-Lindsay