Are you a forward folder or a back bender? I once heard that we tend to be either one or the other, well if not made of rubber of course. I have to admit, it’s very true for me. I’m a forward folder and I love it. My back is rather rounded and stiff, it’s difficult for me to go backwards. Physically spoken! As going backwards in any other meaning than physically isn’t just difficult, but a no go for me. I only know one direction, forward. Haha, yes, there it is, must be a connection. Well I leave it with this, even if my mind is just telling me stories about optional deep psychological interpretations… not now, not here!
I’d like to tell you about forward folds and hamstrings. I’m talking about a group of muscles placed on the backside of our thighs. I have an intense relationship with my beauties, a daily conversation, as they are kind of shilly-shally, everyday in a different mood. Some days very open and soft, which makes all forward folds such a pleasure, other days stiff, hard and full of tension.
„To breathe into and release the hamstrings can be very upsetting. We store many powerful emotions, such as suppressed anger, competitiveness, and fear of inadequacy, in our hamstring muscles. All suppressed emotions are potentially crippling to our health: they are toxic and have an impact on our personality…“
(Ashtanga Yoga, Practice & Philosophy, by Gregor Maehle)
Here you go, one reason! Another reason is that we spend too much time sitting, which shortens our hamstrings. Changing habits helps of course, as well as regular practice.
When working on your hamstrings it’s not just about stretching. We need both, lengthen and strengthen them. Always be careful, listen to them, treat them thoughtful and respect whatever they present you with that moment. Send your breath into the hamstrings and actively let all tension go with each exhale. Instead of forcing, go with the yin approach and get soft together with your hamstrings. Allow them to open in their own time and appreciate all they do for you!