Yoga Straps: Hamstring Help

Yoga straps can be used for a variety of exercises and stretches. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced yoga practitioner, a strap can enhance your practice by helping you maintain proper alignment and form as you work different muscle groups.

In this article, I will show you how to effectively stretch your hamstrings while using your strap. The beauty of this particular stretch is that, unlike most hamstring stretches, it will not put strain on your lower back. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, an estimated 75 to 85 percent of Americans will experience back pain during their lifetime. Even if you have no history of back pain, there’s no time like the present to be mindful of safe stretches that will protect your body.

When my doctor suspected that I had a herniated disc in my lower back, I was told that I could continue stretching and doing my yoga, but I could not bend over, as that would cause further strain. Couldn’t bend over?!! How would I possibly stretch my hamstrings, I wondered. If you think about most hamstring stretches in yoga, you’ll quickly realize that they require bending over. Whether you are in Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend) or Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Forward Bend) or Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), you are bent over.

Fortunately, I learned this very effective way of stretching the hamstrings while lying flat on my back. No bending required! Enjoy this amazing stretch, whether you are rehabilitating or in perfect health. It feels amazing.

Step 1Create a small loop in your yoga strap that will fit over your foot. If you need a reminder on how to create a loop, please refer to THIS TUTORIAL. Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the ground. Slip the loop over your foot.Step 2Slowly extend the leg that is looped with the strap. If you would like a deeper hamstring stretch, begin to pull the strap toward your chest.Step 3Slowly extend your other leg to lie flat on the ground. If you feel any strain in your lower back, re-bend the leg, as shown in step 2. Continue to keep tension in your strap, pulling your raised leg toward your chest as much as your flexibility allows.

Steps 4 and 5Slowly begin to lower your raised leg toward the side, maintaining tension in the strap until your leg reaches the ground.

Hold this stretch for five deep breaths and repeat on the other leg.