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Ask Aunt Yoga Advice Column - Hamstring Flexibility

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Updated September 23, 2012

Ask Aunt Yoga Advice Column - Hamstring Flexibility

Seated Forward Bend - Paschimottanasana

© Barry Stone
Question: Ask Aunt Yoga Advice Column - Hamstring Flexibility
Dear Aunt Yoga,

I have been doing yoga for a year now. I absolutely enjoy it. One pose I would like to improve upon is the forward bend. My hamstrings are very tight. I was wondering what is the best way for improving the flexibility in my hamstrings so that I can touch my toes with straight legs and back with a nice smile on my face. Should I increase the number of times I do hamstring stretches? Should I use a yoga strap when doing the hamstring stretches? Will using the strap improve my flexibility more as opposed to not using the strap?

-C.

Answer: Dear C.,

First of all, it's great that your goal is to do the pose with a smile on your face. This is a very important (and often overlooked) component of any yoga pose. Too often I look around and see a room full of grimaces. So you're doing good work already.

Second, welcome to my world! I suffer from from tight hamstrings myself, so I feel your pain (in the back of the legs the day after class).

Third, here's the advice: Yes, it will help if you practice stretching your hamstring as often as possible, ideally every day. Take a look at my daily stretch routine. This will keep you going between classes. I like to work things out in a standing forward bend because I feel like gravity helps me get a deeper stretch. You can always add in a seated forward bend too.

The yoga strap is a nice tool for working on the seated forward bend. Put the strap around the soles of your feet and work on moving your hands down the strap toward your feet while keeping your back straight. You can still improve without the strap, but it's nice to get some leverage.

Your hamstrings will get more flexible, but it can take years. Keep smiling!

Namaste,

Aunt Yoga

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