April 18, 2014 | by Laura Kasperzak
Daily Practice: 4 Must-Do Hamstring Stretches

Your hamstrings are the three muscles that run along the back side of your thighs. We use our hamstrings everyday in activities such as walking, running and jumping. In yoga, flexibility in your hamstrings can make all the difference, so it is important to work them everyday. They can be notoriously tight if you spend a lot of time sitting. Here are four hamstring stretches that I incorporate in my daily practice. Take these stretches slowly and never force yourself deeper!

 #1: Uttanasana or Standing Forward Fold


Key Points:

– Keep the torso lengthened.  Try not to round the back and hunch.

– If you cannot reach the ground, use blocks or hold onto opposite elbows.

– Shift your weight slightly towards the toes so the hips stack over the ankles.

– Keep a slight bend in your knees to avoid hyper-extension.

– Upper thighs internally rotate.

– With every few breaths try to deepen the fold.

– Stay in the pose for about a minute.

#2: Parsvottanasana or Pyramid Pose


Key Points:

– Both feet face towards the top of your mat.

– Stance is about a leg’s distance apart.

– Try to keep your hips as square as possible.

– Squeeze both thighs in towards one another.

– Keep your torso lengthened.

– Use blocks if you cannot reach the ground.

– Stay in the pose for 30-60 seconds, then switch sides.

#3: Prasarita Padottanasana or Wide-Legged Forward Fold


Key Points:

– Feet will be anywhere from 3-4 feet apart. Try not to over-exaggerate the distance because you are trying to get your head to the ground.

– Feet will be parallel to each other.

– Do not roll onto the inside edges of your feet.  Press into the outside edges of your feet.

– Draw your quadriceps up; keep them engaged.

– Shift your weight slightly towards your toes so you are perpendicular to the ground. Don’t sink back into your heels.

– Keep your torso lengthened.

– Use blocks if you cannot reach your mat.

– With every few breaths, try to deepen the fold…working the crown of your head towards your mat.

– Stay in this pose for about a minute.

#4: Janu Sirsasana or Head to Knee Forward Bend


Key Points:

– Use blocks and/or a blanket to support yourself. Sitting on a blanket can ease any discomfort in your sacrum. Use a block or blanket under your bent knee if it does not easily come onto your mat.

– Keep your torso lengthened as you fold forward.

– Slightly twist your torso as you fold so the center of your torso folds over the leg.

– Keep the foot flexed on the straight leg and press the back of the leg down towards the mat.

– With every few breaths, try to deepen your fold.

– Stay in this pose for about a minute, then switch sides.


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  • Thank you for this post on hamstrings. I am struggling so hard with hamstring flexibility and it’s driving me insane. I will add these to my daily practice and hope to see some progress. Thanks again!

  • Thank you so much! Mine are super tight! Ugh :-( Some hip ooeners would be great also ;-)

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