The Yoga Addiction

45: 3 Ways to Engage the Hamstrings

The Yoga Addiction
45: 3 Ways to Engage the Hamstrings

Vinyasa yoga has often been criticized for over-stretching the hamstrings as the practice tends to favor forward bends over backbends. Add in the modern-day desk job, sitting with knees bent and hips bent for hours a day--we often see some dysfunction in the hamstrings. In this episode, we break down the hamstrings in terms of isometric, eccentric and concentric work that we can do in a yoga class. Considering muscular action in this way can be very helpful in creating new variations and sensations in the body, and restoring healthy function to the hamstrings.




  • Where are the hamstrings and what do they do?  (6:36)
  • Hamstring tension that comes around from a desk job that requires sitting on the hamstring tendon all day (8:04)
  • From an Ashtanga Vinyasa background, there is some debate about the higher ratio of forward bends to backbends, and hence overly-stretched hamstrings (16:09)
  • Nat's ability to fold forward reduced as she sits (18:20)
  • Low back pain and the hamstrings (20:14)
  • What are isometric, concentric and eccentric muscle contractions? (26:13)
  • Isometric hamstring contraction in (34:20)...
    1) Tadasana
    2) Laying Supine
    3) One-Legged Downward Facing Dog
    4) Bird Dog
    5) Transition from One-Legged Down Dog to Warrior 3
    6) Warrior 3
  • Eccentric hamstring contraction in (47:13)...
    1) Forward Fold (Uttanasana) lowering really slow
    2) Flowing slowly in and out of parsvottanasana
  • Concentric hamstring contraction in (55:13)...
    1) Standing on one leg, flex knee then extend hip (tap knees)
    2) Standing on one leg, flex knee then extend hip, then lower chest to Warrior 3
    3) From Down Dog, squeeze knee to chest and heel to butt, then push back to Down Dog extend hip without losing flex knee
    4) Table top - one leg up, put a block in the hamstring and hold it with the bent knee




Episode 5: What is SAID and How Can We Use it in Asana?

Episode 2: Why the Transverse Abdominis is One Badass Muscle and How to Use it

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Brought to you by Natalie Senger and Sandy Huen of The Yoga Addiction