Strengthen to lengthen

Yoga Journal - - Practice Well -

It seems para­dox­i­cal that if your ham­strings are tight, you should strengthen them. How­ever, ham­strings are health­i­est when all of their fibers are able to fully lengthen and con­tract, which is what pre­vents mus­cle tears and pro­motes op­ti­mal mus­cle health. The fol­low­ing ex­er­cise is like medicine for both hy­per­mo­bile and re­stricted ham­strings. It’s a con­cen­tric ex­er­cise (read: it short­ens the ham­strings). If you dis­like this move as much as I do, take it as a sign that you’ve got some ham­stringstrength­en­ing work to do.


Place a yoga blan­ket on a slip­pery sur­face, like a hard­wood or tile floor. Lie down to rest your bot­tom, torso, and head on the blan­ket with your legs out­stretched in front of you, hips par­al­lel to each other.


Drive your heels into the floor, and pull your bot­tom to­ward your heels by ex­clu­sively us­ing your ham­strings. When you’re half­way there, stop and make sure your knees are point­ing to the sky and still par­al­lel to one an­other.


Com­plete the move by pulling your heels all the way to your bot­tom, then straighten your legs to re­turn to the start­ing po­si­tion. Re­peat un­til you feel tired.

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