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When most people complain of inflexibility, they’re usually referring to the big muscle group at the back of their thighs—the hamstrings. Not being able to touch your toes is a sure sign that these muscles need to be stretched or warmed up. If the hamstrings are tight, a simple act such as bending over to tie your shoes could create strain on your lower back. Sports that involve running, kicking, or jumping may pose even greater risk, as sudden movements could create painful tears in these crucial muscles.
In a YogaWorks Teacher Training, we examine the hamstrings in close detail, analyzing their role in specific postures that help to lengthen them. Detailed anatomy sessions explain how the hamstrings attach to the bottom of the pelvis, which can be pulled into a posterior tilt if the hamstrings are tight, thereby flattening the lumbar spine’s natural curve. In other words, there’s a causal relationship between our muscles, bones, and intention in every move we make, and a mindful yoga practice raises our awareness of that relationship.
Equipped with this knowledge, YogaWorks trainees are taught how to create yoga sequences that address risk factors involving key muscle groups, such as the hamstrings, so that those muscles can be warmed and strengthened safely and progressively. Instead of encouraging extreme ranges of movement, YogaWorks trainings encourage budding teachers to guide their potential students into finding an appropriate “edge,” where tight muscles and joints are compassionately eased, rather than forced, into opening.
About David Kim
Yoga came to me only when I was ready to receive it. As a New York journalist fresh out of Brown University, I dabbled in a few yoga classes, and continued to do so after moving to Los Angeles to work in the film industry. But the yoga didn’t take hold right away. As time passed, the movie business slowly dimmed my creative spark, and daily gym workouts had forged a muscular armor, stunting my freedom to move and breathe. I felt stuck. Something needed to shift, and I approached an Ashtanga-based yoga class at my gym with new eagerness. It was a revelation! The deliberate breathing and foreign-sounding postures slowly pried open my body, releasing years of unconscious tension and stress. When tears welled up in my eyes during a seated hip opener, it dawned on me: yoga went far beyond the body—it connected to my emotions, my intellect, even a long-buried sense of Spirit. Focusing heavily on asana, I pushed my physical practice to its limit, tearing my knee cartilage, thanks to over-ambition and sloppy alignment. Good timing led me to the YogaWorks Teacher Training, taught by Lisa Walford and Annie Carpenter, my soon-to-be mentors. Their depth of knowledge and life experience redefined my practice, literally from the ground up. The philosophy and meditative practices spoke to my innate beliefs about a true Self—or universal Consciousness—that exists beyond our narrow ego identities. I began to view yoga as a lifetime practice, one that transcends fitness or postures. Visit my website here.