HAMSTRINGS

Downward Dog

1. Let us start in the plank. Keep your back straight with your toes together and heels together. Push the hands flat onto the floor and maintain them below the chest such that when lowering to the floor into a low pushup the thumbs would be roughly by the nipples. 

2. Breathe in and breathe out as you raise your buttocks up while lowering your chest and head towards the floor space below the navel. This will form the V shape of the downward dog. 

3. During step 2 the knees and elbows should remain extended at all times. Once you come to the maximum point of step 2 then hold. 

4. Hold while breathing into your nose and out your nose. Keep pushing your palms flat onto the floor. Do not allow your index and middle fingers to lift from the floor. Keep pushing the hands flat while extending the arms. Simultaneously open the shoulders joints as you would when extending the arms while standing. 

5. Keep your toes together and heels together with the knees straight. Then rotate the lower buttocks up while relaxing the heels towards the floor. This tug of war between the heels and buttocks will stretch out the hamstring muscles. Hold for a comfortable period of time while breathing into your nose and out your nose.

Uttanasana

Uttanasana is one of the most simplest and classical poses for the back. In this posture gravity assists while taking deep breaths to open into the posture. Very little floor space is required thus making it is one of the most convenient postures to execute.
1. There are many methods of coming into Uttanasana. These range from coming down from Hasta Uttanasana, out of Padangusthasana, or following up from a backbend. 

2. For now let us simply hang forward with the legs straight. Breathe in and then Breathe out to relax your head towards the feet. 

3. You may keep your knees slightly bent. This will disengage your hamstring muscles and focus the stretch on the back. If you are focused more on hamstrings then step 7 will deepen you into the hamstrings. 

4. If you are not able to touch the floor then simply remain hanging while taking deep breaths through your nose. 

5. If you can touch the floor then try holding the toes, back of calves, or place the palms flat onto the floor space behind the legs. Be sure to maintain hand position firmly. 

6. After fixing hand position take deep breaths in as you breathe out and extend your upper spine to the feet. 

7. As you breathe out extend your hamstrings straighter while rotating the lower buttocks toward the ceiling. Breathe in to slowly come out of it by placing your palms together and reaching up to the ceiling as in the Sun Salutation.

Paschimottanasana

Paschimottanasana is a fantastic mood elevating posture. Simple to execute you may even practice it while waiting for the commercials to pass on one of your favourite TV shows. 

1. Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended forward. Keep your toes together and heels together. At the same time the feet should be pointing vertically while pushing the back of the hamstrings onto the floor. 

2. Place your hands onto your quads, knees or shins. Then breathe in arch and look up. Point your chin up as you look up while rotating the lower chest towards the ceiling. At the same time the hands should remain fixed on the original point that they were placed on. 

3. When you perform step 3 the spine will bend backwards. At the same time the buttocks should rotate away from the legs while pushing the hamstrings to the floor. 

4. Then breathe out and relax forward. After you relax forward walk your hands forward towards the feet.

5. Fix the hands and then continue to repeat step 3 through 5 until you arrive at the maximum point forward. Choose to hold the toes or wrap your hands around the feet. 

6. If you do not come completely forward then just hold where you feel comfortable. When you are finshed breathe in as you sit-up with a straight back.
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