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Yin Yoga for the Hamstrings

Beginner II

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.

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Existing Comments

jonathonlee
July 4, 2020
Comment:

I'm one of those people who can never seem to fold forward when in sitting position; I can barely cross my legs. This is an amazing 27 minutes of gentle, pain-free stretching which really stretches the backs of my legs like nothing I've done before. I will practice this regularly. Thank you!

unclejuice19
November 11, 2019
Comment:

Wow, what a beautiful session. You did a wonderful job. Thank you.

sng4ever
August 21, 2019
Comment:

I did this practice after a weight workout and it was DIVINE! I really felt the energy/tingle in my legs during corpse pose.
A wonderful practice I will use time and time again.

jan elizabeth
July 11, 2019
Comment:

Wonderful class. I have had tight hamstrings for while now from my daily work. This feels wonderful. I will book mark it. Thanks Sarah

Rosie102
May 27, 2019
Comment:

Hi Sarah Jane,
Thank you so much for this beautiful class!
Is it okay to that I feel a stretch/release in my quads as well (especially in the last position)?
Warm Regards, Rosie

Sarah Jane Steele
May 29, 2019
Comment:

Hello Rosie. Thank you for taking this class! By last position do you mean the resting position with a blanket or bolster under the knees? If so then, yes, lying suppine with the knees flexed would gently stretch the psoas, quads and hip flexors. If you mean the half hamunasana before that or half split please let me know. Its possible you would feel that in the quad depending on what action you are taking with the position. Looking forward to hearing from you. As a general rule, there are key areas you should/would feel the stretch in a yin posture which I outline, however, it's absolutely fine if you feel the stretch elsewhere as long as you're in a safe alignment for your joints and it's not a painful , or stretch. Thank you again for your view and your question.

Rosie102
May 31, 2019
Comment:

Hello Sarah Jane, thank you heaps for getting back to me, and for the excellent and thorough answers to my question!
I was referring to the half hamunasana. I think you're right that it is the way I was positioning myself in the pose that was making me feel the stretch in my quads. It felt okay at the time but I did notice that they felt a little sore later. You offer excellent and clear advice in the class, so next time I do it I will listen to and follow exactly what you say!
Thanks again so much for your beautiful work.

lec
June 28, 2018
Comment:

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.
Thanks

Sarah Jane Steele
July 4, 2018
Comment:

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
July 5, 2018
Comment:

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!

Sarah Jane Steele
July 10, 2018
Comment:

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

Sarah Jane Steele
July 4, 2018
Comment:

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.

lindsaymescher
June 10, 2018
Comment:

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
May 30, 2018
Comment:

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
April 11, 2018
Comment:

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.

Sarah Jane Steele
April 12, 2018
Comment:

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.

Angeljaz21
April 17, 2018
Comment:

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. :)

mayrow26
January 11, 2018
Comment:

I am a paid subscriber but I get a message that this video cannot be played due to security settings. "Sorry. Because of its privacy settings, this video cannot be played here". How can I watch this video?

nipper
August 25, 2017
Comment:

Long slow hamstring release felt so good after running. A lovely relaxation at the end. Thanks!

lmroiter
April 19, 2017
Comment:

Hi Sarah,
Thank you so much for these instructions. I'd love if you can do one for quads!

172bpmallthetime
June 8, 2016
Comment:

This was amazing and challenging after doing squats yesterday. I got a rush of intense and positive spine tingling in the final seated pose.

Janet_
April 20, 2016
Comment:

Ooh, appreciative hamstrings. Thank you.

jessicamceachern23
April 5, 2016
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SJ! It's nice to see the East Coast represented here at DYWM. You might not remember me, I'm a friend of your sister's. I saw your name and had to do the practice - so glad I did. :) Awesome work.

Sea2Sea
April 4, 2016
Comment:

This was my first Yin Yoga class. It's quite different from the other classes and I enjoyed the change. I have very tight hamstrings and an easily distracted mind. This class was a challenge for both. I plan on doing this class again and I think it would be great after a run. Thank you!

LaGuiri
March 28, 2016
Comment:

Not something I'd do every day, but it's a nice and relaxing cool down after running or other tiring workout.

Tesshiva
March 14, 2016
Comment:

I am gaining so much from this practice, especially patience. I began this practice because my hamstrings feel like impossibly tight ropes. My brain kept wanting to speed into the next "thing". To hold for extended periods, to learn how to breathe and listen to what's going on in my body, is a wonderful lesson for my short attention span! Many, many thanks!