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  • Modified Heron Pose
    A Seated Hamstring Stretch with the Leg Lifted

    easy compass pose, knee bent, hamstring stretch, knee straight, spine long, yoga pose, head pulled back and up, chin down towards chest.

    In most seated hamstring stretches you tilted you pelvis forwards relative to your thigh (or attempted to).

    In modified heron pose you use your arms to pull move the leg relative to the pelvis to stretch the hamstring, one leg at a time.

    Use a Strap!

    In this seated hamstring stretch, if you can't comfortably straighten your leg while holding on with your hands, use a strap. I even used to use a strap to warm up with. (I wrapped the strap or towel around my foot and held on to the ends with both hands.)

    With a strap I had room to lengthen my leg. Then I could gradually work my hands closer to my foot and eventually grab it.

    After practicing this way for a little while I could then do the pose easily without having to use a strap.

    The instructions below can apply equally well to using a strap or not using one.

    Sit Up Tall

    To start off with, practice sitting up tall while holding your foot.

    Keep your shoulders relaxed as you do so. Sit up tall as you inhale and then relax, bend your spine and allow your head to move forwards as you exhale (shown below).

    easy compass pose, knee bent, relaxed, yoga poseeasy compass pose, knee bent, spine long, yoga pose

    Then add your leg. As you lengthen your spine lengthen your leg as well.

    Rather than trying to straighten your knee you can focus on pushing your foot into your hands. Your knee will straighten as a result. Relax both your leg and your spine as you exhale.

    Initially, each time you exhale re-bend your knee. Then straighten it as you inhale. Do both actions slowly and smoothly, in time with your breath.

    As you get more comfortable with the straight leg position you can keep your leg straight as you exhale. Just focus on making it and your spine feel long as you inhale (Press your foot into your hands.) Then relax the length as you exhale.

    easy compass pose, knee bent, spine long, foot pushing forwards, yoga poseeasy compass pose, knee bent, hamstring stretch, knee straight, spine long, yoga pose, head pulled back and up, chin down towards chest.

    Avoid Compressing Your Hip Joint

    Initially, focus on keeping your shoulders relaxed as you straighten your leg in this seated hamstring stretch. Imagine that you are using your leg to stretch your shoulders. This is to avoid compressing your hip joint with your arms. You may also find that it makes it easier to straighten your leg.

    Pull your Leg Towards You

    Once you get your knee straight you can bend your elbows and pull your leg towards your torso. Keep both your leg and your spine feeling long as you do so. Relax arms and spine while exhaling.

    Use Your Hip Muscles and Arms Against Each Other

    Once you can straighten your leg while keeping your shoulders relaxed you can try pulling your leg into the hip socket with your arms. But resist with your hip joint muscles. As you arms work to compress your hip joint use your hip muscles against your arms.

    In both cases (hip joint and shoulders) increase the pressure or tension gradually. And release it gradually as well.

    Why Straighten the Spine?

    One of the reasons for keeping the spine straight is because this is a seated hamstring stretch. With the spine straight the hamstrings have an anchor from which they can lengthen from. That anchor is the bottom of the pelvis which is held in place by your straight spine.

    With the pelvis anchored, then straightening the leg and pulling it back stretches the hamstring of that leg.

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    Return to Hamstring Stretches from Seated Hamstring Stretch (Modified Heron Pose)

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