tight hamstrings – help!

hamstring stretch
ask a yogi

you asked

My question is: I have the tightest hamstrings ever. I stretch them daily in a “hurdler’s stretch” and in a nice long wide-legged standing forward bend (where my hands only barely touch the floor), but I don’t seem to be making any headway. My hamstrings prevent me from achieving all kinds of yoga poses and it’s really frustrating. Is there anything else I can do besides stretching daily? Do you have any great stretches you can recommend that might be more effective? - Emily

a yogi answers

Dear Emily,

Yes, it will help if you practice stretching your hamstrings as often as possible, ideally every day. I like standing forward bends because I feel like gravity helps me get a deeper stretch.
You can always add-in a seated forward bend. The yoga strap is a nice tool for working on the seated forward bend. Put the strap around the soles of your feet and work on moving your hands down the strap toward your feet while keeping your back straight. You can still improve without the strap, but it's nice to get some leverage. Your hamstrings will get more flexible, but it can take years. Keep smiling!

All forward bends are great, and though they can cause some frustration to those who lack flexibility, over time you will see great results. Breathe deeply and don’t be afraid to explore through that frustration, you can learn lots through what comes up for you. Take it easy!

- Grace, lululemon Queen St. ambassador
Learn more about Grace and Inspire Reach here: http://www.inspirereach.com

what is ask a yogi?

Ask a Yogi is a yoga advice column that is published on Monday, Wednesday and Saturdays. If you have a yoga question for future yoga panels, please email askanexpert@lululemon.com.

read more related posts:


I was never able to touch my toes in a seated forward bend. About a month of near-daily hot yoga fixed that! I think it’s more than just, say, hamstrings… I think it goes all the way into your hips and up your spine, too.

Comment by elaine! — June 30, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

You may want to see an RMT who does myofascial work, or try a body rolling class – I was certainly surprised (but delighted) to find out just how much those tiny adhesions can interfere with making gains in flexibility. Once you start to loosen them everything can start to come a little easier, plus you can’t believe how incredible it feels. Good luck!

Comment by arden — July 3, 2010 @ 9:01 am

I’ve been doing Dailey Method classes and have noticed a lot of improvement in my flexibility. You work your body in small ranges of motion, sequentially focusing on targeted muscle groups. Once there is a lot of heat in your muscles, you STRETCH. It’s an amazing class. Go to their website and see if you have a studio near you. http://www.thedaileymethod.com

Comment by elissa joy — July 4, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

Atricles notes

Emily, you are on a right way.
1. The first thing is awareness. Now you know what to pay the most attention to – hamstrings that prevent you from feeling comfortable in other postures.
2. Plan of Actions. As for that there are two ways which complement each other. Yoga is teaching you that mind body connection. You can work on your body to change your mind and backward – pay attention to your mind to help your body to release tension.
Body to Mind approach. I’d highly recommend Yin yoga. Yin yoga focuses on the connective tissue (fascia) that is surrounding every organ and muscle in your body. So if fascia is tight, muscles are not able to move freely and glide. Then the whole area, the whole group of muscles ( and you have four hamstring muscles) gets tight. Yin yoga stretches are held for about 5 minutes with the use of body weight and gravity and props.
Also don’t forget your lower back stretches. Tight, weak or overworked muscles of the lower back can put pressure on sciatic nerve. As a result – your hamstring will tend to tighten too.
Mind to Body approach. Tension in your body is caused by the mental tension. If your mind is relaxed, your body stay relaxed. In body phycology is it believed that hamstrings is the area where all of our worries are “stored”. Hamstrings are connected with the base chakra Muladhara, which carries energy of our basic survival needs for food, protection, shelter, etc. So if there is some tension about it in your mind. For example you often might have thoughts: “I’m not strong enough”. “I’m not supported enough”, “I don;t have enough”, I don’t feel safe, protected” and so forth. That might lead to tension around that chakra and muscles. Tension in that area also restricts blood flow to the pelvis organs that might lead to some health problems.
So RELAX your mind, let go of worries, and you will see how everything is beautifully unfolding. Simple meditation will does miracles to your hamstring, as well as any other muscle tension.
3. Discipline! Now stay with your routine. And good luck!

Comment by Nadya Echt — January 6, 2011 @ 10:21 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment