Hamstrings Yoga Poses

Hamstring Yoga Poses: Ways to Stretch Your Hamstrings | Helen Krag


Running, cycling, driving, flying and sitting down for long periods of time. All of these can shorten the hamstrings. The antidone is to lengthen this crucial muscle group! Read on for some top tips stretching the hamstrings!

“My hamstrings are tight!”… a common cry, both in and outside of yoga classes! If you experience ‘tight’ hamstrings you will know that it can be difficult to touch your toes without bending your knees. Lower back pain is a complaint often caused by tight hamstrings. This article will offer our top tips on hamstring yoga poses and ways to stretch and lengthen this crucial muscle group.

What are the Hamstrings?!

‘Hamstrings’ refers to a group of 3 muscles on each leg.

The muscles originate from the ‘sitting’ bones at the back of the pelvis, extend down the back of the thigh, pass behind the knee, and insert at the tops of the lower leg bones. The hamstrings extend the thigh at the hip joint, flex the leg at the knee joint and rotate the leg at both of these joints.  


Yoga poses that stretch the hamstrings work on the ‘posterior chain’ of the body – that is, the muscle groups at the back of the legs and pelvis. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) stretches the whole back of the body, not just the legs.  

This yoga tutorial with Lizzie Reumont shows us how Downward Dog works. Notice how the pose engages different parts of the body and discover how to make it more efficient. The pose can be modified using props, for example if your hamstrings are tight! 

Forward folds, such as the seated forward fold Paschimottanasana (Intense Stretch of the West Pose), are also good hamstring yoga poses.  

Learn how to get the most from the pose in this Paschimottanasana Tutorial with Andrew McGonigle

Supta Padangusthasana (Reclined Big Toe Pose) I and II are supine poses which target the hamstrings and the muscular flexors of the hip joint.  

Hips and Hamstrings for All with Clive Fogelman features these supine hamstring yoga poses. Use a belt to make your arms longer and enjoy the spaciousness created in your lower back and hips from the hamstring stretches. 


Stretching out the hamstrings on a regular basis can get a bit dull, so take your pick from this selection of classes to galvanise you into action. 

Happy Hamstrings with Mollie McClelland Morris explores the range of hamstring movements. Rather than overstretch, we learn to work at 60-80% of our potential. 

Everybody Flows: Happy Hips and Hamstrings with Adam Hocke helps to mobilise your hamstrings and feel into the full circumference of your hips. Useful if you are tight or restricted in these regions! 

Hamstrings, Hips and Lower Back Maintenance with Kristen Campbell focuses on ‘active hamstring’ stretches which can help to ease niggles and pain in the lower back. 

Express Hamstrings with Andrea Kwiatkowski is a short class which takes place at the wall to lengthen the hamstrings and help relieve lower back pain. 

Yoga for Cyclists: Hamstrings with Lucy McCarthy provides some simple stretches for the backs of the legs, hamstrings, hips, shoulders and lower back – areas which can tighten up, whether or not you are a regular on a bike! 


What if you are routinely practising hamstring yoga poses, yet the muscles still feel tight?

It might be that you are over-stretching and need to build some strength in the hamstrings. Find some useful tips in Build Strength: Yoga for Legs

None of our muscles operate in isolation and we have touched on how tight hamstrings can impact on the lower back and the hips.

The gluteal muscles or ‘glutes’ (a set of 3 muscles on each side of the buttocks) are also a key part of the posterior chain in the body. Find out why strength and mobility in the glutes are important.   

So, there we have it – a novel selection of hamstring yoga poses that lengthen this important muscle group. The good news is, that with a variety of different classes, stretching the hamstrings can even be fun! 

Author: Helen Krag. Helen is a health and wellness enthusiast; observer of human behavioural change; yoga teacher trainee; passionate traveller; and lover of the outdoors.


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