Yin Yoga for the Hamstrings

User avatar for Sarah Jane Steele
Instructor Sarah Jane Steele
Average: 4.8 (51 votes)
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Tight hamstrings are common among many people, including athletes, office workers and anyone who doesn't stretch regularly. Chronically tight hamstrings can also cause many issues, such as lower back pain, leg soreness and even neck pain. Let Sarah-Jane help you release those tight legs so you can find the relief you are looking for.

Equipment: Blankets
Style: Yin Yoga, Yoga for Back Care


How being pigeon-toed affects poses/modification possible?
lec 9 months ago

Hi Sarah-Jane: Terrific and helpful video!
However, I am pigeon-toed. As you may know this is bone torsion, though muscle follows bone. So when you recommend turning the pinky toes out to maximize a hamstring stretch, this is specifically something I am not supposed to do, as it puts me at risk of injury.
Any thoughts? This comes up periodically in yoga in various postures.

More on toes and torsion
Sarah Jane Steele 9 months ago

Hello Lec. Also, when we are in the wide legged seated pose, or Konasana, you can again elevate your hips and if you in-toe it's ok, just work on creating a wider V with your legs and arking your tailbone back and letting your torso come forward to get the inner thigh and hamstring stretch. Still flexing the feet is helpful for lengthening the calf and hamstring muscles and well as offering relief to the ligaments around the ankles and knees.

please also keep in mind that myself and some of the other teachers on the site have practiced for more than 15 years and our asana practice might look overdone, not intentionally but because over time we have gained quite alot of flexibility, even still, I have lots of limitations- so take your time and please never push your body into pain.

Your in toeing
Sarah Jane Steele 9 months ago

Hello! Thank you for your comment. I took a bit of time to consult my Anatomy of Hatha Yoga book to understand your torsion a bit better....what I came up with is likely what your physio therapist or doctor might reccommend which is...not turning out. I think for positions like squat you can absolutely internally rotate while doing it. Do you have a bolster or firm pillow If so sit on it so your sitting bones are at the edge of it and with your feet planted on the ground and knees bent get them as wide as you can while keeping your toes straight or letting them naturally go inwards. You could also see if rolling up a towel and placing it under your heels helps so you can eventually try the squat posture in a full expression. YOu can still absolutely stretch the hamstrings without turning out your feet. Elevating the hips above the knees in seated forward folds will help this. Does this assist you somewhat? Many yoga postures do not require turning out the feet, in fact many keep toes together and heels out or toes and feet straight. There are just some folks, namely women, with different shaped pelvises and most yoga postures were designed for men so I often try and give options for both sexes. Thank you for asking your question. I hope my answer serves you a bit.

lec 9 months ago

Yes, exactly, I only turn out when comfortable, I don't push a turnout at all. Yes I have a firm pillow, and this helps. The squat you mention isn't in this video - I was really responding to the instructions at a certain point in Saddle Pose, when you talk about getting more of a hamstring stretch with feet outwards. So thanks for consulting your book and giving me a helpful response!

Yes, I know squat is not in
Sarah Jane Steele 9 months ago

Yes, I know squat is not in the video but it's one that is particularly inaccessible by folks with Pigeon Toe so it was more just a helpful hint. SOunds like you know how to listen to your body and modify. See you on the digital mat! Sj

Great for my hips but not my back!
lindsaymescher 10 months ago

I liked this class and can see how it'd be beneficial but I have a pinch in my upper-mid back and this class really triggered it. My hips feel open though!

ama1031 10 months ago

Thank you for this amazing stretching and centering practice. I was the perfect amount of time and stretch. I very much liked the background music and your calming voice. I feel so much better!

Angeljaz21 1 year ago

Thank you for this class, my legs desperately need it! However I cannot even attempt the first pose as my hips/groin ( not entirely sure what) is so tight I cannot get my legs much wider than the mat and sit up, let alone come forward. I need to do this more than anything but after 4 years I still don't know where to start and there is never a modification for this pose. Any tips would be great thank you.

Sorry for delay. tips for class

Hello Angela. Goodness I know tight groins and hips/hamstrings all too well. Have you already tried sitting on something when you do the pose? A couple of pillows or a bolster? having the hips higher than the knees. When you bend forward, all of the muscles on the back side of your body must lengthen, including the rotators which are a distinct set of muscles in and around the buttocks, femur bones and pelvis. elevating yourself and coming as far forward as is possible without straining should help. Yin is a very gradual practice. It can take weeks to release through this area. I have practiced for more than ten years to get where I am in terms of flexibility if that gives you any context. Be kind to yourself and try again as long as you don't have deep pain. Discomfort is a part of life and yoga but I wish you well on the next practice as Yin is a wonderful part of the medicine side of yoga.

I will keep trying
Angeljaz21 1 year ago

Sarah thank you so much for replying to my comment. Since I have been doing yoga more regularly (3-6 times a week) I have noticed my flexibility improving but we're talking millimetres, it's all positive though I know I just have to keep going with it. I did try the sitting on a block and a cushion the other day but it takes me about 5 minutes to get comfortable enough to attempt the stretch. I think next time I will just pause the video and take my time to get into position, then hopefully I can come forward a bit. I've also ordered some straps so I can hold onto my feet as I am not coming forward enough for gravity to help. Thanks again, it's good to know I am not alone in these struggles and I will persevere. :)