Want to Improve Hamstring and Adductor Flexibility? Try this

Want to Improve Hamstring and Adductor Flexibility? Try this

 

{WATCH} In this short video filmed at Create Pilates in Wimbledon, I show you how to do Prasarita Padottonasana (A).

When practised with care and consideration this pose is strengthening for the legs and feet – it can improve hamstring and adductor flexibility and can also help develop awareness of how to protect your lower back when you bend forward in day-to-day life. So, the aim is not to get your head to the ground (or to flop forward) – instead, think about stability in the legs and spine throughout.

– As you come into the forward fold, hinge from the hips and keep the length through the spine so that you can target the hamstrings without placing strain on the lumbar spine. If your hamstrings are particularly tight or your back is rounding you can place blocks under the hands to bring the floor up to you. (Also, it’s no good having your head on the floor if your neck is all scrunched up. If that happens, shorten your stance. You don’t want the feet to be so wide apart that you feel unstable).

– Press down through the feet to allow the legs to work more strongly. Notice where the weight is in your feet – if it’s gone back into your heels then bring some weight forward towards the balls of your feet and avoid leaning back into your knees.

– Have hands about shoulder distance apart and lift shoulders up and away from the ears. If your hands are on the floor, walk your fingertips back so that they are in line with the toes and elbows hugging inwards.

Stay here for 5-10 breaths.

TIPS – If you have sciatic issues (as I do) try keeping the feet parallel rather than pigeon-toeing. For back or hamstring issues try bending the knees (I am actually bending my knees slightly here and consequently achieving a deeper stretch into the hamstrings). And for groin issues try shortening the stance.

NB – Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, speak to your doctor before practising yoga.

Join me for Hatha Yoga at Create Pilates in Wimbledon on Wednesdays from 11.45am-1pm and Fridays 10.15-11.30am. Click here to see my current weekly class schedule.

Undo Knots in the Upper Body with Thread the Needle Pose

Undo Knots in the Upper Body with Thread the Needle Pose

{WATCH} In this short video filmed at Create Pilates in Wimbledon, I show you how to do Thread the Needle Pose.

Thread the Needle can provide a satisfying stretch through the chest and shoulders. Also, the gentle twisting motion can help stretch the muscles in the lower back and release tension in the upper back as well as easing tension in the shoulders and in-between the shoulder blades.

1. Start on all-fours. Place knees a bit wider than the hips and hands closer together.

2. As you inhale reach your right fingertips toward the ceiling. As you exhale, thread your right arm between your left arm and thigh with your palm facing up. Let your right shoulder come all the way down to the mat. Rest your right ear and cheek on the mat too. Soften your gaze to your left. Keep your tailbone in the air (N.B. Do not press your weight onto your head – adjust your position as necessary to not strain your neck or shoulder.)

3. Allow your upper back to broaden and relax your lower back.

4. With each exhale visualise any tension in the shoulders, neck, back and arms dissolving. Stay here for 3-5 breaths or up to a minute.

5. To move out of the pose, press your left hand down and unwind your twist, sliding your right arm back.

Repeat on the left side.

NB – Please make any modifications as needed to feel comfortable in this pose. Here are a few suggestions:

– If your knees hurt, fold your mat or place a folded blanket under your knees for padding.

– If your wrists hurt in the starting position, rest your forearms on the floor.

– Rest your forearms on a bolster or stack of folded blankets to lift your torso up higher. (This variation is can useful for women who are pregnant.) Rest your ear on the bolster and let your ‘threaded’ arm move toward the floor.

CONTRAINDICATIONS:
Avoid this pose if you have a recent or chronic injury to your knees, shoulders, or neck.

If you have back pain, back injuries, degenerative disk disease or any other diagnosed back condition you should approach this pose with caution.

NB – Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, speak to your doctor before practising yoga.

You can currently join me for Hatha Yoga here at Create Pilates on Wednesdays 11.45am-1pm and Fridays 10.15-11.30am. View my weekly yoga class schedule here.