Although I’ve always been naturally quite flexible through the back of the legs, I’ve definitely noticed a difference my elasticity since taking up running (and not in a good way).
It would seem that running and tight hamstrings seem to go hand in hand, even more so when you don’t take the time to stretch immediately after running, which we all know, I may have been guilty of doing on occasion. 😉
Thankfully, I find yoga for the hamstrings very relaxing and today I thought I’d share this really quick and easy “flow” that I like to do.
Standing forward fold (variations) into downward facing dog;
(Left to right)
Rag Doll – To start, stand tall and on an inhale and reach your arms up to the sky. On your exhale, allow your knees to bend deeply and fold from the hips until your chest sits on top of your thighs. Let your arms fall towards the floor and clasp your elbows with the opposite hand. Nod your head yes, then shake it no. I also enjoy rocking gently back, forth and sideways. Take deep breaths, and allow yourself to sink closer to the floor.
Half way lift – Reach your hands to the floor, shins or thigh, straighten but do not lock out your knees and look forward (keeping your back nice and flat and neck long).
Downward facing dog – plant your palms onto the floor (bending your knees if necessary), step both feet back and push your hips up towards the sky until you are in an inverted “v”. Keep your head hanging comfortably and look at the space between your feet. Although my feet are flat on the floor, it’s ok if you do not have the flexibility to do this.
When you are ready, slowly roll back up to standing.
(Left to right)
Seated Forward Fold – Take a seat on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you (put a blanket underneath you if sitting like this is uncomfortable for you. Sit up tall and tilt foward from the hips stopping at whichever point is comfortable for you whilst keeping your back as flat as possible and reaching forward with the heart. Think about getting your chest to your thighs as opposed to your head to your knees. Breathe deeply sinking lower with each exhale.
Heron Pose Variation – Bend the right leg and place the right foot on the floor, just in front of the right sitting bone. Lift the ball of the foot off the floor drawing the toes towards the shin, leaving the heel down. Take a hold of your foot with both hands interlaced, lean back slightly and press the ball of your right foot into your hands. Lift your chest, straighten your back and draw your shoulders away from your ears – breathe.
Pose Dedicated to the Sage Marichi I – Place your right foot back on the floor just in front of your right sitting bone. Reach your right arm forward and rotate it inwardly, so the thumb points to the floor and the palm faces out to the left. As you reach the right arm forward, lengthen your torso forward and sweep the forearm around the outside of the leg. The right hand will press against the outside of the right thigh or buttock. Sweep the left arm around behind your back and clasp the hands together. Exhale and extend your torso forward from the groin, keeping the lower belly long and continue to draw your shoulder blades down and together. Lower your chest as closely as possible to the outstretched leg. NOTE you can do this pose without the bind, just reach forward like you did in the seated forward pose we started with.
When ready, repeat on the other side.
If you are not familiar with any/all of these postures, I’ve listed some youtube videos that will help you set up and perform the pose safely;
- Forward Folds – Yoga with Adriene
- Downward Facing Dog – Yoga with Adriene
- Seated Forward Fold – Yoga with Kino
- Heron Pose – Waka Yoga
- Pose Dedicated to the Sage Marichi I – Do Yoga With Me.
I hope you find this as relaxing as I do – well perhaps it won’t be “that relaxing” the first time you do it, but believe me it gets easier the more you do it – Enjoy!
Till next time