By Sangeetha Saran
Often times, our hamstrings are tight from many of the athletic activities we engage in. From the repetitive action of aerobics to skiing and running to cycling, our hamstrings tighten and shorten over time. There are a number of Yoga asanas that will keep your hamstrings strong and flexible. Maintaining flexibility in your hamstrings is important because you are much less likely to sustain an injury in your hamstring area or lower back area. Flexible and strong hamstring muscles will also help you to keep your spine in an easy, optimal alignment as you move through the course of your daily activities.
There are a wide assortment of Yoga poses that help to keep the hamstrings limber and flexible. Some of the more well-known Yoga poses that stretch the hamstrings are standing forward fold and seated forward fold. Additionally, many of the core movements of the Sun Salutation help to keep the hamstrings flexible and strong. Crescent Lunge into Forward Folding Hamstring Stretch and Parighasana or Gate Pose are wonderful Yoga asanas that deeply elongate the hamstrings. Parighasana also stretches out your oblique torso muscles, shoulders, chest and calf muscles. It is a great Yoga pose for runners, snowboarders and skiers.
Crescent Lunge into Forward Folding Hamstring Stretch
It is best to warm-up first with five to ten repetitions of the Sun Salutation before performing Forward Folding Hamstring Stretch. When you are adequately warmed up, come to the top of your Yoga mat in Equal Standing Pose. To begin your practice of Forward Folding Hamstring Stretch, move through the initial stages of the Sun Salutation. As you come out of Downward Facing Dog, place your right knee on your Yoga mat and your left foot flat on your mat. Keep your left foot aligned with your left hip and approximately one and a half feet in front of the line of your right knee.
Come into Crescent Lunge with your next inhale by extending your arms over your head with your palms together. Keep your drishti or gaze focused on your hands. Hold Crescent Lunge for five full breaths. With your next exhale, shift your weight back onto your right knee and extend your left leg out in front of you. Keep your toes pointed up towards the ceiling and slowly bend forward over your left leg until you find your edge where you feel a nice stretch. Hold for three to five breaths and then come up with your next inhale. Move through a Sun Salutation and repeat on the other side.
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