Here are some great poses to get your hamstrings and inner thighs stretched out.
Top Left: Triangle pose is great to prepare for the deeper stretches. I always start my stretching and yoga practices on my feet, bending more in my hips and simply letting my upper body drop and focus on my breathing. Whether I start with a forward fold or triangle, it’s a great start. For this pose, separate your legs, one in front of the other. Bend your front leg, take your hand opposite of your front leg, place it on the mat next to your foot and breathe, looking up at your other hand that is straight in the air.
Top Middle: Go straight from triangle pose into warrior (or lunge) simply by changing your upper body position to straight up. Find the deepest lunge you can by bending yous front knee more, pushing your back leg as straight and far as you can without dropping your back leg at all. It should be straight, not bent.
Top Right: Bring your back knee down to the floor slowly from Warrior. From this lunge position, straighten your front leg and bring your booty back over your back knee only slightly, you should not look like your are sitting on your back leg at all. Lean your chest down towards your front leg, place your hands on either side of your foot, trying to even get your fingers past your toes by reaching out as far as you can. Breathe and try to get your nose to your knee.
Middle Left: Pigeon Pose. If I had to chose a favorite yoga pose, it’d be this one. It’s a hamstring and hip opened. I love it so much for so many reasons. I make my girls I coach do it often for many things. Simply bend your front leg, like a half Indian sit children do. Keep yous back leg straight. Try and push yourself further down deeply in your hamstrings. It hurts so good.
Middle Middle: In Pigeon, simply fold forward. Try to place your forehead on the ground, your arms straight out by your head. Reach far with your fingers. Feel the stretch from within your inner legs. Breathe deeply. Close your eyes and listen to your heart pumping.
Middle Right: Come up, and still in pigeon, bend your back leg and grab your foot. Be sure to keep your upper body straight with this, chest is up.
Bottom Right: Mermaid. From the bent leg pigeon pose as above, place your back foot in your elbow if you can, and clasp hands together behind you. This takes hamstring and back flexibility (don’t worry, you will fall over a few times in the beginning, I did too).
NOW SPLIT! The Bottom Middle and Bottom Left are me in my bad leg splits. One has me we chest up, trying to push myself down, and the other is being in a split and simply folding over your front leg, putting your chest on your leg if you can with hands reaching out in front by your head. To get into the split, get back into the lunge with bent front leg, then straighten it like in the pose in the Top Right pic, and simply try to slide down as far as you can!
For middle splits, there are a lot of poses to work on.
- Sit in pike (feet together, straight legs in front of you/like a forward fold but sitting) and bend over, trying to lay your chest on your legs, putting your nose to your knee, reaching your hands out in front, past your feet.
- Straddle your legs (separate out to the sides, still straight) and point your toes. You will bend to each side, going straight towards the leg and then also going to the side (side bend). When bending forward toward your leg, your chest is down, trying to get it on your leg, nose to knee, you can grab on to your foot or reach past it. Do on other leg. For going to the side, sit straight up in your straddle sit, arms up by your ears, now fold from your middle and bend towards that leg. Switch to the other leg.
- While still in straddle, sit straight up, arms straight up by your ears, now fold forward, trying to get your forehead/chest on the ground in front you. Walk your hands slowly out in front of you as far as you can. Be sure you keep your legs straight out, your knees facing up towards the sky.
- Bring your legs in from straddle, so that your legs are bent with knees out the side and your feet are together right in front of you. This is the butterfly sit you probably did in PE in school. Try to bring your feet in as close as you can, and push your knees down with your elbows. Hold. Breathe. Now push your feet out slightly and try to fold forward, trying to put your nose to your feet. Breathe.
- Get up onto your knees, separate your legs as far as you can while on all fours, push down, pushing your knees further and further away (like a middle split but with bent legs rather than straight). Drop your upper body to the ground and hold. We call this the frog sit/froggy in gymnastics/cheer. This helps to get that deep stretch you get in the middle split, minus the pain if you have not mastered the actual split yet. This also helps with healing injuries and soreness in the leg/hamstring/glute area. Try to do this stretch with your chest up, holding yourself up on your hands, trying to bring your booty down to get a deeper hamstring stretch.
- Now do for the actual split. Go down into it slowly. If you go into any of your splits very quickly and uncontrolled, you may pull something and won’t be able to stop yourself. Please be cautious.