Friday, March 04, 2011

The hamstrings are overstretched! What to do?

It's out of question: To do nothing is not the resolution. Yesterday my practice was so painful that I wondered  what I can do today to make my practice a pleasant experience. I know that many of the yogis and yoginis suffer from overstretched hamstrings from time to time. 

It's  time for a brainstorming what can be done till the body is healed:
1. Instead of practicing primary it's possible to practice second series. This is one more reason to learn the second series as soon as possible like it was the customs in Mysore before the Ashtanga boom began. The second series has many balancing asanas and back bending asanas. Some of the deep forward bending asanas are with bended knees, this does not stretch the hamstrings.
2. It's possible to focus on other aspects of the practice, like the vinyasas.
3. Why not practicing the sun salutations and then learning something new, like pranayama in the middle part, before the closing sequence.
4. One can be creative and chose to practice those asanas that can be done without stretching the hamstrings. One rule to consider is:
- after a forward bending asana follows a counter pose, a slighter back bending (upward facing dog i.e.)
- after a backbending asana follows a counter pose, a slighter forward bending asana (downward facing dot i.e.)
- When you want to switch from back bending to forward bending asanas, separate them with twist asanas.
5. Exercising visualization can be an alterntative:  imagining oneself doing asanas is a possibility, or imagining a beautiful tree or a flower or any other object.
6. Chant Aum in the middle part as meditation.
7. Light a candle and look at it, expand your concentration abilities and stay positive.

What will I do today?
1. I'll start again with the CD by Sharath till the end of the standing sequence.
2. Then I'll practice second series.

What do you do when your hamstrings are overstretched?
Thanks for sharing your secrets!


Robyn said...

This is something I suffer from on a regular basis because of a past injury that is not related to yoga. The thing that helps me the most is to make sure my quads are fully engaged when I am doing the forward bends/folds. It really helps protect the hamstrings while allowing them to open further.

My heart goes out to you - I know how painful and frustrating this injury is!

Ursula said...

Thank you Robyn,

It IS great protection to engage the muscles. Thank you that you mentioned it here.

It's temporarily. It deepens my compassion for those who have permanent something.
I heal fast.

Quentin said...

I have same problem as do most yoga teachers. I gain relief by daily yoga practice at reduced intensity, 1.resting on Moon days and Saturdays.
2. proper diet
3. taking 3 tablets of sulphur MSM 1000 mg pills each day.
4. Raw green veggies.
5. No dairy.
6. Always engage moola bandha during practice!!!
7. Self massage with oils daily.
8. Last week I went to massage therapist and noticed tremendous improvements. So I scheduled another for next month.

Ursula said...

Thank you Quentin,

I agree 100% with your suggestions.
Engaging the bandhas and leg muscles is so important. But also the other tips are great.

Relaxed practices in modesty for me for a while


maya9 said...

I've been working through this very thing. I started by doing no practice for a few days, really hard to do! and lots of sitting on an ice pack. The attachment point on the sit bone was the worst spot. Then I did Intermediate (no leg behind the head) for a couple of months (!!I know, it takes forever! but I was in so much pain). Any forward bending, such as Uttanasana in surys, I only went down enough to touch my knees. Finally I started back to Primary, fully engaged quads, keeping my hands at knees, then a little lower the next practice, weeks to shins, now down to ankles, etc. Heat to warm the area before I practice has been really helpful, too. Don't warm it up by working it, warm it up before (I sit on a hot pack). And never, ever push it. The newly healing tissues are more delicate and easy to re-injure. I am 98% pain free now. Good luck!

Ursula said...

Thank you very much for sharing this.
I think we all must be much more careful and practice with patience.
These overstretched hamstring really hurt.
I became modest.
Stay healthy.