strenghtening

STRENGTHEN THOSE HAMSTRINGS

 

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. 

I got this exercise from Jenni Rawlings blog.   - Lie face down and place a block between your feet  - Make sure your ankles are above the knees   - Lift knees of the mat and push pubic bone into mat   - Repeat between 5 - 10 times

I got this exercise from Jenni Rawlings blog. 

- Lie face down and place a block between your feet

- Make sure your ankles are above the knees 

- Lift knees of the mat and push pubic bone into mat 

- Repeat between 5 - 10 times

Add on   - Keep the knees lifted and straighten the legs   - Continue straightening and bending the knees whilst lifted   - Repeat 5 -10 times 

Add on 

- Keep the knees lifted and straighten the legs 

- Continue straightening and bending the knees whilst lifted 

- Repeat 5 -10 times 

- Set up for bridge pose (Feet hip distance, reach to touch your heals with your finger tips)  - Push down into the feet, as you lift your pelvis, keeping your arms beside you  - Extend one leg at a 45 degree angle   - Hold for 5 long breaths and repeat this 3 times 

- Set up for bridge pose (Feet hip distance, reach to touch your heals with your finger tips)

- Push down into the feet, as you lift your pelvis, keeping your arms beside you

- Extend one leg at a 45 degree angle 

- Hold for 5 long breaths and repeat this 3 times 

I got this idea from Jason Crandell when he was interviewed on Yoga Land podcast.   - As if you were setting up for dancer pose, balance on one leg and bring the opposite heal to the bottom   - Extend the opposite hand in front of you and place the other hand on the hip  - Lift the back leg as high as you can and start to reach the opposite hand forward  - Lift up through the abdominals to help with balance but most importantly bring your focus to the hamstring engagement of the back leg 

I got this idea from Jason Crandell when he was interviewed on Yoga Land podcast. 

- As if you were setting up for dancer pose, balance on one leg and bring the opposite heal to the bottom 

- Extend the opposite hand in front of you and place the other hand on the hip

- Lift the back leg as high as you can and start to reach the opposite hand forward

- Lift up through the abdominals to help with balance but most importantly bring your focus to the hamstring engagement of the back leg 

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!