3 Yoga Poses to Stretch Your Hamstrings

Woman in wide-legged forward bend yoga pose

There is no denying it; yoga has become one of the most prolific health activities in today’s fitness world. While some who practice it are seeking mind, body, and spirit connection, yoga is also widely used as a stretching alternative for athletes. Whether you train for triathlons or just do the occasional jog around your neighborhood, yoga exercises can have a noticeable impact on your hamstrings, balancing your body and improving your performance.

What Are the Hamstrings?

Technically, the hamstrings are the tendons that connect the muscles of your upper leg to the bone that supports it. However, the term “hamstrings” commonly refers to the group of muscles in your upper leg, which is collectively called the posterior thigh muscle. The primary function of this muscle group is to help bend your knees. Additionally, it also helps straighten your hips.

Having strong and flexible hamstrings are vital if you are into activities that require running, jumping, or climbing. And it’s important to stretch them well before you engage in dynamic activities to take full advantage of their function.

The following three yoga poses will provide deep and effective hamstring stretches. Try practicing them regularly to keep your muscles loose. 

Parsvottanasana

Pyramid poseParsvottanasana, also known as the pyramid pose, will deeply stretch the back of your legs. It will also help improve your balance, mental function, and circulation when performed correctly.

  • Start in a standing position with your feet together.
  • Move your left leg three feet back, making sure that both legs remain straight. 
  • As you move your foot, your left hip should rotate forward so that your feet are parallel, facing forward.
  • Maintain this position and slowly bend your chest forward toward your right knee.
  • Hold this pose for one minute, and then repeat the steps on your other leg.

Prasarita Padottansana

Wide-legged forward bend Another great yoga pose that can benefit your hamstrings is the prasarita padottansana, or the wide-legged forward bend. This pose is essential for stretching the muscles on the back of your leg. It also stretches your spinal column and back muscles.

  • Start in a standing position with your feet together.
  • Next, inhale and step out three to four feet to your right.
  • Put your hands on your hips.
  • As you inhale, lengthen your spine, then exhale and fold forward from your hip joints until your head is reaching for the ground.
  • Put your hands on the ground, parallel to your feet. If possible, put your head on the ground and bend your elbows to 90 degrees.
  • Hold this position and take five deep breaths, and then, slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat these steps, starting with your other foot, to further stretch your legs and pelvis.

Dandasana into Paschimottanasana

Staff pose into forward bendThis next movement is a combination of two different poses. You will begin initially with dandasana, or the staff pose, and then shift to paschimottanasana, or a deep-forward fold, as you stretch your hamstrings. These poses are very useful in stretching the entire body, including your back, hamstrings, and even your heels.

To perform the dandasana pose:

  • Start in a seated position with your legs extended straight in front of you.
  • Move your heels to be in line with the hip joints and your toes pointed up, flexing your feet.  
  • Position your hands to frame your hips on the floor with your fingers spread out.
  • Press the floor with your hands while opening through your chest.
  • Breathe deeply for 5 to 10 cycles of breath.

The next step will be to shift to paschimottanasana:

  • Maintain the same position on the floor.
  • Inhale and raise your arms above your head. 
  • Exhale and fold your body forward until your hands reach your feet.
  • Take three to eight deep breaths, and then, roll back up to dandasana.

All three of these yoga poses can help stretch your hamstrings effectively. They are easy to do and can be mastered quickly.

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About the Author
Emily Carter

Emily Carter

Holistic Life Coach, Athlete, and Writer
Emily Carter is an American competitive athlete who is always trying to push herself to the limit. She is also the founder of GoAheadRunner , a certified holistic life coach, running instructor, and holds a degree in sport science. She loves bringing what she knows and learns to the community and hopes to help everyone on the road to happiness.Read more