Seven Yoga Poses for Tight Hamstrings

Discover this simple stretching sequence to help release tension in your hamstrings.

Whether you’re a yogi, a runner or an athlete, your lower body can benefit from this series of forward bends, foundational yoga poses and floor work.

Take time a few days a week for this quick series of poses, holding each posture for as long as feels comfortable.

Breathe deeply and move at your own pace.

FORWARD FOLD (Uttanasana)

forward-fold-yoga-pose

Start from standing position at the front of your mat. Hinge at your hips, maintaining a straight back as you fold forward. Hang over your feet. Allow your head and hands to be heavy.

Hold this pose with bent knees. Avoid rounding or hunching your spine.

Lift halfway, lengthening your spine on your inhale. Come to standing position as you exhale.

Optional: Grab opposite elbows or reach for your toes as you fold forward.

DOWNWARD FACING DOG (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

downward dog

Start from hands and knees. Curl your toes under, bend your knees and press up and back to make the shape of an upside down “V.”

Bring your feet hips-width distance apart. Press your heels toward the floor. It’s okay to put a soft bend in your knees if your hamstrings are tight.

Align the creases in your wrists parallel to the front edge of your mat. Fingers can turn out slightly. Press your hands flat, firming down through your thumb and first finger. Squeeze your biceps in toward your ears and soften your shoulders down your back.

Continue pressing the weight out of your hands and into your legs. Lengthen your spine.

Rest in Child’s Pose when you are finished.

WIDE-LEGGED FORWARD BEND (Prasarita)

wide legged forward bend

Start from standing position at the front edge of your mat. Step your left foot back and turn your feet to face the long edge of your mat.

Slightly turn in your toes. Bring your hands to your hips. Inhale to lengthen your spine, exhale as you hinge at your hips and fold between your legs.

Bring your hands to the mat, allowing your fingertips to reach toward the ground. Put a soft bend in your knees. Press the outside edges of your feet into the floor.

Lift halfway, lengthening your spine on your inhale. Come up to standing position as you exhale. Step to the front edge of your mat.

PYRAMID (Ardha Parsvottanasana)

pyramid pose

From standing position, step your left foot back about 18 inches. Keep your heels in one line. Point your right toes directly forward and turn your left toes out slightly, no more than 45 degrees.

Bring your hands to your hips. Inhale to lengthen your spine, exhale as you hinge at your hips and fold over your right thigh. Bring your hands toward the mat, allowing fingertips to touch the ground, if that’s comfortable for you.

Firm your left heel into the mat. Put a soft bend in your right knee. As you breathe in and out, activate your legs and soften your upper body.

Continue to draw your right hip back and pull your left hip forward, like a pair of scissors.

Lift halfway, lengthening your spine on your inhale. Come to standing position as you exhale. Step your left foot forward. Repeat on the left side.

HALF SPLIT (Hanumanasana)

half-split-pose

From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot between your hands, coming into a runner’s lunge. Drop your left knee to the floor. Begin to straighten your right leg and hover your tailbone over your left heel. Lift your right toes off the floor and flex your foot.

Walk your fingertips back toward your hips. Fold forward and lengthen your spine.

For more intensity, reach your left hand to your right pinky toe and twist slightly as you stretch.

Re-bend your right knee. Gently step back to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat on the left side.

SEATED FORWARD BEND (Paschimottanasana)

SEATED-FORWARD-BEND

From sitting, extend your legs directly in front of you. Rock side to side to flatten your seat. Flex your feet and activate your legs.

Breathe in and reach your arms to the sky. As you exhale, fold forward to a comfortable degree.

To make this pose more challenging, try reaching for your big toes and grasping them with your first and second fingers.

Avoid rounding or hunching your spine.

Slowly roll up to seated position.

PLOW (Halasana)

plow pose

Lie down on your back. Squeeze your knees into your belly. Extend your feet toward the sky, then overhead. Reach your toes toward the ground behind your head and activate the muscles in your legs. Bring your hands to your low back for stability and support.

Slowly roll out onto your back.

Once you’ve completed these poses, take a few moments to rest in Savasana or Corpse Pose. Allow yourself up to five minutes to lay flat, with your eyes closed and listen to the sound of your breath.