Don’t avoid yoga just because you think you aren’t flexible. In fact, if you have tight muscles, yoga is just the thing to loosen you up. Yoga is not like gymnastics, in which the most flexible person gets a medal, it doesn’t mean being able to do the splits (though it can be if that is what you really want). The point of yoga is to become more flexible over time while enjoying yoga’s health benefits. It is a personal practice, infinitely adaptable to fit your needs, being able to move the way you want and not feel restricted. A couple of poses (below) to get you going…
Uttanasana / Deep Forward Fold (with soft knees)
1. Feet hips-width apart
2. Knees slightly bent
3. Grab your elbows
4. Relax your head completely
5. Use as little energy as possible, just breathe deeply
6. Hold for 1 minute (approx. 15 slow breaths)
Tips: Make sure to relax your head and neck. Keep your feet parallel to each other. Don’t wiggle or bounce at all. Back off if you feel sharp pain in the lower back. Holding for as long as you can and breathing deeply will increase flexibility in your hamstrings.
This pose will help to relax the viscous tissues that connect muscle to bone, organs to each other – basically, the fascia that keeps each part of the body connected to the rest. Relax those hamstrings!
Supta Padangusthasana / Single Leg Raise (or variation)
1. Lie on your back, legs extended
2. Lift your right leg up and take hold of the foot, calf (first pic. full pose) or hold back of thigh (second pic. a variation – if keeping the leg straight is too strong for you)
3. Relax your entire body and simply breathe
4. Hold for 1 minute (approx. 15 deep breaths)
5. Repeat steps 1-4 on the other side
Tips: Both legs should be straight and relaxed at all times. Don’t pull hard on the foot just allow the natural pull that occurs to help you stretch. Do not rest between sides. Use a towel or belt if needed.
This pose can feel awkward at first, it could be that you start with a slight bend in the leg, that’s fine, keep working on it. Lie back, relax and allow gravity to do the work. This pose will increase the range of motion in your hamstrings quickly and gently.
Disclaimer: This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance should consult his or her GP.