In our yoga practice, even thought we're working our whole body, there can be imbalances and one of those is the approach to our hamstrings. Generally speaking in the yoga practice we continuously and consistently stretch our hamstrings compared to strengthening. This is partly due to the fact that not many poses strengthen hamstrings! It’s very common for people to have a desire to lengthen hamstrings to reach an aspired pose. I for one did not hold back on poses that primarily focused on stretching hamstrings. This persistence for longer hamstrings of course led to injury. As with everything we need to find balance!
Is it a myth that strengthening hamstrings will tighten them? As Jenni Rawlings concludes on her blog, ’strengthening your tight/short hamstrings (or any other muscles) will not make them tighter/shorter. But it will make the connective tissue of your hamstrings stronger and less prone to injury.’ Click here to read more - http://www.jennirawlings.com/blog/fact-check-will-strengthening-your-tight-hamstrings-make-them-tighter.
Admittedly when it came to strengthening hamstrings in a yoga sequence I was a bit stumped. So I turned to the ever insightful Google. I found tones of hamstring stretching poses / sequences but hardly anything on strengthening. For an injury that is really quite common in the yoga world I was surprised how little information there was on strengthening hamstrings.
After trying many different hamstring exercises, I found the below exercises / poses, were the easiest to incorporate into a practice.
Even if you’re not a devote yogi it’s important to be aware of over stretching the connective tissue of your hamstrings; it’s very easy to do so and it’s a long road to recovery!
I hope these exercises are helpful!