Take the time to stretch out your legs with these forward bends, floor work and foundational yoga poses. This quick series is for the avid yogi or the average athlete looking to stretch out their hamstrings. No matter your skill level, simply hold each posture for as long as you feel comfortable.
Complete all seven of these hamstring yoga poses, or just sprinkle some into your normal routine. Regardless, make sure to take deep breaths and move at your own pace. Practice these quick yoga poses a few days a week.
Also known as Uttanasana, the forward fold is a classic hamstring stretch.
- Start in a standing position with your feet together.
- Hinge at your hips, maintaining a straight back as you fold forward.
- Hang over your feet.
- Allow your head and hands to be heavy. Simply release and relax them down toward the ground.
- Hold this pose with slightly bent knees and avoid rounding or hunching your spine.
- Complete as many breathing cycles as you’re comfortable with in this position.
- Lift halfway, lengthening your spine on your inhale.
- Return to your standing position as you exhale.
Optional for this hamstring stretch: Grab opposite elbows or reach for your toes as you fold forward.
DOWNWARD FACING DOG
This common yoga pose has you on all fours to help stretch out your hamstrings.
- Start on your hands and knees in a plank position.
- Curl your toes under and press your hips up and back to make the shape of an upside down “V.”
- Bring your feet hip-width apart and press your heels toward the floor.
- Align the creases in your wrists parallel to the front edge of your mat.
- Press your hands flat on the ground, firming down through your thumb and index/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.
Bonus Pro Tip: If your hamstrings are tight, try having a soft bend in your knees.
WIDE-LEGGED FORWARD BEND
This forward bend, also called Prasarita, has you parallel to your yoga mat.
- Start in a wide stance with your feet parallel to each other. Your comfort level will determine how wide you separate your feet.
- Lengthen your spine as you hinge at your hips and lean forward.
- Bring your hands to the mat and walk them backward past your legs, if possible.
- Have a soft bend in your knees and press the outside edges of your feet into the floor.
Individually stretch each hamstring in a triangular fold with this yoga pose, also known as Ardha Parsvottanasana.
- Start in a standing position. Then step your left foot back about 18 inches.
- Lengthen your spine and hinge at your hips toward your front foot.
- Bring your hands toward the mat, allowing your fingertips to touch the ground, if comfortable. Your right foot should be between your two hands.
- Relax your neck and have a soft bend in either one or both of your knees.
- Continue to draw your right hip back and pull your left hip forward, like a pair of scissors.
- Hold this position for a few breathing cycles. Then lift back up and come to a standing position and exhale.
- Bring your left foot forward and repeat with your other leg.
Help stretch out with the Hanumanasana yoga pose.
- Start in the downward dog position. For a further breakdown on how to do the downward facing dog pose, check out this Pro Tip.
- Step your right foot between your hands, bringing your body into a low lunge.
- Slowly straighten your front leg as you lean back.
- Soften your chest toward your thighs and flex your right foot.
- Hold the half split for a few breathing cycles and then switch sides.
SEATED FORWARD BEND
The Paschimottanasana is similar to the forward fold but is performed sitting on your mat.
- Start sitting with your legs directly in front of you, with your feet together.
- Bend your knees up and fold slightly forward so you can grab the bottom of your flexed feet.
- Straighten one leg at a time and lengthen your spine.
- Bend forward to a comfortable degree. Avoid rounding or hunching your spine.
The last hamstring stretch has you bending over backward. Complete the yoga routine with Halasana.
- Lie down on your back with your legs straight out together.
- Place your hands flat on the ground next to you, palms touching the mat.
- Lift your legs, followed by your hips, straight up in the air.
- Reach your toes overhead to the ground.
- Use your hands for support on your lower back with your elbows still planted on the ground. If your feet can’t reach the ground behind you, it’s important to keep your hands on your lower back.
- Keep your head still.
- Return your hands to the mat and roll out of the stretch slowly, opposite to how you got into the position.
Advanced Yogi: The next level to the plow pose is a shoulder stand. Learn how to do this yoga inversion with the Pro Tips guide on how to do a shoulder stand.
Once you’ve completed these poses, take a few moments to rest in Savasana or Corpse Pose. This allows you to lay flat, with your eyes closed and listen to your breathing for about five minutes.
If you enjoyed this hamstring stretching yoga routine, try these other basic yoga poses all yogis should know.