Tight hamstrings is a common complaint for most people I speak to. The lower back, hips and glutes have to overcompensate and can become strained.
Why do we have tight hamstrings? Most people get tight hamstrings from sitting all day... over an accumulation of years (studying or working at computer). Hamstrings can also become tight from running and/or cycling.
There is an easy set of sequences that can be done on a daily basis to stretch out the hamstrings, lower back, hips and glutes. It can be done anywhere and chances are that your children, flatmates or dogs will want to get stuck in with you as well.
All you knee is your body and a belt or anything you can wrap over foot and hold with one hand (e.g. dog leash).
In yoga terms, it is called Supta Hasta Padangusthasana, reclined hand-to-toe pose. These poses are meant to be done using some effort, drawing the belt tighter as time goes on - make it a strong pose.
Instructions below are for 1 leg doing 4 poses. Please walk through the sequence on the other side. This sequence will take 10 minutes or less, depending on how long you'd like to hold each pose.
Pose 1: Start with leg up
Pose 2: Drop leg out to right side, opening right hip
Pose 3: Leg crosses over to opposite side
Pose 4: The final stretch
Switch legs: Place belt on left ball of foot and repeat the 4 poses, using opposite side
This set of stretches, if done every day, will improve your hamstring flexibility. It will alleviate lower back issues.
And if you are still sitting all day at work, remember to get up every hour and walk around. Take laptop to a counter and stand a bit. If you are cycling/running, try to stretch afterwards (ha, ya right).
And remember to mindfully stretch, breathe into it and observe how the muscles are feeling! They will undoubtedly be whispering "thanks" to you.
In Vinyasa Flow yoga, the Sun Salutation is frequently used for many reasons:
For those who would like to remember this sequence quickly, here it is a quick version:
I can give more explanation but many of my students would like a quick way to remember this sequence.
Thanks to my lovely model, Tim, doing the salutations in Cornwall in the misty sunlight.
Tim & Shannon: Part time yoga teachers from Cookham, Berkshire. We thought it would be fun to share our learning experiences with like minded people.