Many people suffer from tight hamstrings - the muscles located on the back of the thighs. If these muscles are tight they are more prone to muscles tears, can contribute to lower back pain, and can limit range of motion. Repetitive exercises like running and spinning can often cause tight hamstrings. Try these yoga poses to lengthen and release the hamstrings.
Downward Facing Dog - Begin on the hands and knees. Press into the hands as you push the tailbone up and back behind you while straightening the legs as far as is comfortable. Keep the feet about hips distance apart, lengthen the spine, and keep the ears between the biceps. If comfortable press the hamstrings toward the wall behind you.
Pyramid Pose - Stand with the right leg forward and the left leg halfway back on your mat with the left foot turned out slightly. Keep the hips squared and fold forward toward the right leg. Keep the feet pressing down and away from each other. Pick the right foot up onto the heel to intensify. Repeat with the left leg forward.
Standing Forward Fold - Stand with the feet together. Inhale the arms up overhead. Exhale reach forward, lengthen the spine, and relax down toward the legs. Bend the knees slightly if the hamstrings are very tight. Keep even weight in both feet and try to point the tailbone toward the ceiling. Relax further forward on each exhale.
Wide Leg Forward Fold - Stand with the feet three to four feet apart. Inhale the arms up overhead. Exhale reach forward, lengthen the spine, and fold forward to relax the head toward the floor. Keep your weight even in your feet. Point the tailbone up toward the ceiling as you lengthen the spine and the back of the legs.
Seated Forward Fold - Sit with the legs straight out. Sit up tall to lengthen the spine. Inhale the arms up overhead. Exhale forward fold as you create length in the spine and the back of the legs. Relax forward over the legs on each exhale.