5 Best Yoga Poses to Strengthen Your Hamstrings

Stretching your hamstrings before and after a workout is important. (Image via Pexels @Kampus Production)
Stretching your hamstrings before and after a workout is important. (Image via Pexels @Kampus Production)

Hamstrings play a key role in your hip and knee movements when walking, squatting, bending your knees and tilting your pelvis.

The most common sports injury is one to the hamstring muscle. Most of the time, these injuries take a long time to heal and are recurring in nature. That makes stretching your hamstrings before and after a workout very important, as it may help you avert and prevent recurrences.

Stretching and building strength in your hamstrings can be done through various exercises and stretches. Read on to learn more.

Yoga Poses to Strengthen Hamstrings

Check out these five yoga poses to strengthen your hamstrings.

1) Janu Sirsasana

It has been observed that working with one leg extended at a time often gives a deeper stretch to your hamstrings than both legs extended at the same time.

Here's how you do this pose:

  • Sit tall on a blanket or bolster.
  • Stretch one leg out in front of you, and tuck the other foot into the inside of your thigh or calf.
  • You can make the pose less difficult by putting a rolled-up blanket under your front knee.
  • Wrap a yoga strap around the foot that's out in front of you.
  • Bend the toes, and pull the foot toward your body.
  • Stretch your torso towards your front foot, and drape your torso toward your outstretched thigh.
  • You can try taking the strap off and holding on with your calf, ankle or foot.
  • Hold for five to ten breaths, and repeat the above steps on the other side.

2) Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose

This pose stretches the back of the legs (hamstrings and calves), groin, inner thighs and lower back. As you bring the leg back to the middle, you work your abs and adductors (the muscles on the inside of your thighs).

Here's how you do this pose:

  • Put your back down. Keep your bottom leg straight, and don't turn it in or out. That'll keep your toes from turning in or out.
  • Press straight down on your thigh bone as the inside of your thigh moves towards the floor.
  • Pull the other knee up to your chest, and hug it.
  • Stretch out your leg straight out. You can hold onto the back of your thigh, calf, ankle or even your big toe, if they're close enough. You could also put a strap around the top foot's ball.
  • If you use a strap, try putting it around different parts of your foot to see how it makes your leg muscles work in different ways.
  • Reach your pubis and tailbone away from your head in an even way. The hip of the top leg should move away from the shoulder. Your shoulders should be anchored to the floor.
  • Hold for five to ten breaths, and repeat on the other side.

3) Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

This excellent yoga pose is often recommended if one wants to stretch and strengthen their glutes, but it also works well for hamstrings.

Here's how you do this pose:

  • Lay on your back with bent knees and the bottoms of your feet on the ground.
  • You can work your hamstrings and inner legs by putting a yoga block between your thighs and pressing them down with your heels.
  • Put your hands where your hips are.
  • Press evenly into your hands and feet to lift your pelvis up toward the ceiling.
  • Cross your hands under your back as you bring your shoulder blades closer to your midline. Hold for five to ten breaths.

4) Purvottanasana (Upward Plank Pose)

This pose stretches your triceps, wrists, back and legs. It strengthens your shoulders, chest and the front of your ankles too.

Here's how you do this yoga pose:

  • You can keep the block between your thighs in Bridge Pose or take it out.
  • Lower your hips, and lift your torso up to get into a seated position. Put your hands on the outside of your hips.
  • Push into your hands and feet, and lift your hips and torso. Your shoulders should be higher than your hands.
  • Stand up straight. Keep pressing down on your feet and using your body weight to work your hamstrings.
  • Stretch your sitting bones to the backs of your knees, and keep your inner thighs released down.
  • Stretch your torso out evenly. You can keep your chin slightly tucked in towards your chest, or stretch out your neck as your head moves back.
  • Hold on for five to ten breaths.

5) Upavistha Konasana

People with tight hamstrings have a hard time sitting in Upavistha Konasana, let alone bending forward. Putting one or more folded blankets under your seat is one of the best ways to give yourself more space in this pose.


Here's how you do this pose:

  • Attach a chair to the yoga mat. Place the chair seat in front of you on your mat.
  • Spread your legs out so that you're sitting in the middle of the chair.
  • Put a blanket on the chair's seat, and lean forward at the hips to rest your arms on the blanket.
  • Fix your bones to the floor when you sit. Let your head weigh you down. Try the pose without the chair if you want to.
  • If you need support for your torso, you can put a blanket or bolster under it.
  • Hold the position for 10-20 breaths.


Perform the aforementioned yoga poses regularly to stretch and strengthen your hamstrings.

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Edited by Bhargav
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