20-Minute Yoga Flows Artwork
Season 4 - Episode 7

Hamstring and Shoulder Love

20 min - Practice


Sarah leads a practice to find space in the hamstrings and shoulders, where we habitually hold tension. This quickie practice will explore familiar strengthening and opening postures to get into the sticky spots and help you feel amazing for the rest of your day.
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Thank you for joining me for this practice to get into the sticky spots in the shoulders and the hamstrings. So those areas where you might be holding on to habitual tension will start to find some spaciousness, some opening, and some ease in those areas. So please join me by sitting back onto the heels. If it feels okay, tuck the toes underneath you and let your hips sink back towards your heels and just start to feel that stretch through the soles of the feet. Let the hands rest on the top of the thighs, allowing a very big full breath in through the nose, filling up.

As you exhale, maybe let out a sigh and let the shoulders release as you exhale. Good. Big full breath in through the nose. Let the shoulders melt down the back on the exhale, softening just a little bit more. One more big full breath in and exhale to release.

Good. Bring your hands forward, untuck your toes. If it feels okay, sit back on your heels and you might have a block between the ankles here if that feels better for you. And then right away, let's start to get into the shoulders. So take eagle arms with the right arm under the left, either bringing the back of the hands together or maybe the palms come together.

You can also hold on to opposite shoulders if that feels best for you. On an inhale, start to draw the elbows away from you. Lift the heart in, lift the gaze, feel the opening through the shoulders. And then as you exhale, draw the elbows in, tuck the chin and feel the rounding in your spine. Good.

Let's do that one more time. Inhale, draw the elbows away from you, lift the heart, lift the gaze. Good. And then as you exhale, draw the elbows in, tuck the chin, feel the opening through the back body. Beautiful.

And then as you come up, release the hands behind the back. Find an interlace with your fingers. Start to draw the shoulders away from the ears, feel the opening through the heart space. And then as you bow forward, tuck the chin, let the crown of your head come down toward the earth, reach the arms up, and then just gently put a little pressure on the crown of the head as you roll forward. Beautiful.

And then come on up, out of there slowly. And then ground for a moment by bringing the hands to the top of the thighs. Beautiful. And we'll just take that with the other arm. So left arm under the right, wrap it up, eagle arms.

Inhale, draw the elbows away, lift the heart, lift the gaze. Exhale, draw the elbows in, round through the spine. Good. One more. Inhale, draw the elbows away, lift up and lengthen.

Exhale, draw the elbows in and round. Good. And then as you come out of there, bring the hands behind you, interlace with the opposite thumb on top. Big full breath in. Draw the shoulders back, lift the heart, lift the gaze.

And then again, tuck the chin, let the crown of the head come to the earth, roll and put a little pressure onto the crown of the head. Maybe move your arms from side to side as you feel into the shoulders. Good. And then roll back to sit back on your heels. Good.

And then meet me in plank pose. So bring the hands to the earth. We'll stretch both legs back, start to feel into your hamstrings as you come into plank. So shift the weight forward and back a few times, turning on a little heat on the legs and the core, really the entire body, the shoulders. Good.

And then keeping this nice length in the spine, lift the hips up and back for a downward facing dog. Good. And then just start to feel into your hamstrings here in downward facing dog. Maybe pedal it out. Maybe sway your hips from side to side, shake your head yes and no.

And if your hamstrings are feeling a little tight today, feel free to bend the knees deeply. You might even step your feet a little wider than the hips, letting the sitting bones reach up toward the ceiling. Nice. And then as you're ready, float your right leg up to the sky, put a bend in the knee, open up through that right hip. Try to let your shoulders stay level so you're pressing through both hands as you feel that hip opening.

Nice. And then straighten through the right leg, gaze between your thumbs, draw the knee in toward your nose and take a nice step through between your hands. One step, bunch of steps, it doesn't matter. Come into your runner's lunge as you come up onto the fingertips, reach the heart forward, really activate through that left quadricep. Big full breath in here.

As you exhale, start to press back through your left heel and then any amount, straighten through your right leg. So feel free to keep as much of a bend in that right knee as you like. You might even come up onto your right heel. And then let's move with that a few times between those two shapes as we start to feel into the hamstrings. So let the inhale bring you back to your runner's lunge and let the exhale bring you back to this modified pyramid pose, folding over the front leg.

Go one more, inhale, re-bend through the front knee and exhale, fold over your front leg, press back through the left heel, maybe the toes lift. Good. Re-bend through your front knee, come back to your runner's lunge, plant your left hand down on the earth, right under the left shoulder and then float your right arm up, twisting toward the side of the mat, hug your right hip in, stay active in your left quadricep. Maybe take your right arm over your ear and you might take a circle with that right arm in one direction and then the other as you feel into the right shoulder. Beautiful.

And then let your right hand come back to the earth, frame your front foot, let your left knee find the earth, stay up onto the fingertips. If you have a couple blocks, you might have blocks under your hands, otherwise hands on the earth. Big full breath in as you lift up through the heart. As you exhale, fold over your front leg for arda, hanumanasana, hamstring stretch, half split. Beautiful.

And then moving between those two shapes a couple times, we'll keep it fluid. On the inhale, re-bend through the right knee. As you exhale, fold over your front leg, arda hanuman. Go one more, inhale, re-bend, lift the heart. Feel the psoas on the left side, exhale, hamstring stretch, shift it back.

Beautiful. Re-bend through the right knee, tuck your back toes, lift the knee up and just start to walk to face the left side of the mat, parallel your feet. On an inhale, walk the hands right under your shoulders, lengthen through the spine. And then any amount, moving into prasarita, start to walk the hands back towards you. Let the crown of your head melt down.

Really whatever feels good with your hands, I have my fingers in line with my toes. You might be holding onto ankles or taking peace fingers to big toes if that feels good. Really just feeling that opening through the back of the legs. Lift up on the quadriceps, protecting the knees, sealing the outer edges of the feet to the earth, and breathe, let something go. Beautiful.

And then stay low to the earth. Come back to your runner's lunge, face the front of your mat, and step back to downward facing dog. Right foot meets the left, maybe continue to pedal it out if that feels good, or maybe you start to find some stillness in downward facing dog as you really feel into the hamstrings. Let the heels disappear behind your toes. Good.

And then floating your left leg up to the sky, can take a moment to bend the knee and open the hip. Keep pressing through both hands, let your shoulders stay level, draw the heel in towards you. Lovely. And then we'll straighten out through the left leg and step that foot all the way through between the hands. Take a moment to find your runner's lunge.

We'll come up onto the fingertips, lengthen through the spine, reach the heart forward. Big full breath in. Good. And then let the exhale fold you over that front leg. So press back through the right heel.

Feel free to keep as much of a bend in the left knee as needed. Bend the breath to the back of the legs and breathe. Good. And then moving between those two shapes a few times. So let the inhale bring you forward, runner's lunge.

Exhale, shift back. One more inhale brings you forward. Exhale, press through the right heel, fold over your front leg, maybe lift the left toes up off the earth. Good. And then rebending into your lunge, we'll set up for our twist.

Set the right hand down, right under the right shoulder. Float your left arm up. Good. And then maybe take that circle with the arm, reaching the arm over the ear, circling in one direction, and then taking it in the opposite direction as you just start to feel into that left shoulder. Beautiful.

And then as you come back through center, left hand lowers, right knee finds the earth, come up onto the fingertips, lift the heart, lift the gaze. Exhale, shift back, forward fold over that front leg, arda hanumanasana, hamstring stretch. Maybe spread your toes, draw the pinky side of your left foot towards you. And then moving with the breath as we floss through the hamstrings, inhale brings you forward, feel the right psoas, exhale brings you back. Go one more breath, guiding the movement, inhale forward, rebending, exhale straightening, sending the breath to the back of your left leg.

Good. And then as you rebend through the left knee, tuck the back toes, lift the back knee up, walk to face the right side of your mat this time for prasarita. Maybe take the hands behind your low back, find an interlace, getting into the shoulders as we fold in for prasarita, let the crown of the head melt down or whatever feels good with your arms as you move into this side for a couple full deep breaths, letting everything melt down, getting it upside down for a moment here. Also that feeling in the back of the legs, that opening, beautiful. And then whenever you're ready, we'll come back to the front of the mat, meet me in downward facing dog, step your left foot back to meet the right.

Good. Glide forward into plank pose for a moment. You might pause here, strengthening, maybe start to just let the hips sink down a little bit coming into this tuck toed upward facing dog and then meet it back in down dog. Walk your feet to the front of the mat. Take a moment as you come to the front of your mat, soften your knees, hold on to opposite elbows and just find a nice forward fold.

Feel free to bend the knees any amount, maybe sway it out side to side, shake the head yes and no, releasing tension, those areas where we hold things in the body. Where might you soften a little bit? Maybe take the opposite arm on top, good, and then take your time, roll up slowly one vertebra at a time as you come to stand at the front of the mat and then roll out the shoulders a few times in one direction and then the other, drawing the shoulders up toward the ears, making some circles, let that feel good. We hold the weight of our world here sometimes, so softening, releasing, breathing, find Tadasana. Good, as you root down through the soles of the feet, sweep the arms forward and not feel the lift in the upper back.

As you exhale, just dive it forward into Uttanasana, forward fold. Inhale, lift halfway, lengthen. As you exhale, step back to plank pose, top of a pushup, shift the weight forward, maybe Chaturanga halfway or all the way down. Inhale cobra pose or up dog, straightening out the arms, firming the thighs up off the earth, meeting in down dog and then right away, step your feet together at the back of your yoga mat, glide forward into plank pose, top of a pushup. Now welcome to lower your knees down, if it feels okay to keep the knees lifted, a little strengthening here, let the forearms come on down to the earth for forearm plank, shoulders over elbows, keep hugging your elbows in, activating through the core and the legs pressing back through the heels and forward through the crown of your head.

Now welcome to stay here or dolphin walk the feet in towards you in this posture, really we're feeling those two spaces quite a bit. So the shoulders are strengthening, the hamstrings are opening, you can always bend the knees a little bit here if it's too much and then breathing, getting upside down, again with that focus on strengthening and opening the shoulders, strengthening and opening the hamstrings, they both exist, good and then feet come back, forearm plank, wow, lower your hips down to the earth for Sphinx pose, untuck the toes, walk the hands in front of you a little bit so that the elbows are in front of your shoulders, pressing through the tops of the feet, maybe take your gaze over the right shoulder and then coming back through center, take the gaze over the left shoulder and then come back through center, take a moment to stack your hands, let the elbows splay out to the side, resting your third eye, the space between the eyebrows, onto your hands, breathing in, releasing and breathing out, good, from here reach your left arm out to the left with the palm facing down, tent your right fingertips on the outside of your right shoulder and then spin onto your left hip, bend your right knee, step the toes behind you, so shoulder stretch here, twist, ringing it out, breathing, notice what you notice and gazing up what's in your space, sounds, sights, the temperature of your space, just letting the awareness rest on the present moment, beautiful and then taking your time as you come back through center, we'll take it to the other side, so reaching the right arm out to the right, palm facing down, left fingertips, tent, roll to the right hip, step the left toes behind you, maybe got a nice crack there I did in the spine, see if you can let the right side of your face just kind of rest on the earth, feel that support, breathe into any sensations as they rise, this is the place where you kind of look at how much dust is on your floor, noticing that, coming back to your breath, beautiful and then as you inhale back to the belly, reach your arms back, maybe catch and interlace behind the low back, lift everything up, the shoulders, the chest, the leg, shalabhasana, tuck the chin, let the back of the neck be long, big full breath in, exhale to release hands next to the side ribs, take a moment to press back to child's pose, maybe wrap your hands back behind you, letting the shoulders release, forehead to the earth, breathe, big full breath in, long breath out and as you're ready, reach your arms forward, come up to all fours and meet me in downward facing dog, tuck the toes, lift the hips up and back noticing if your down dog feels a little different from the first one, then we'll rise up onto toes, bend the knees deeply, come to seated at the front of the mat, so you might walk the feet forward, cross at the ankles, bring the legs out in front of you, flex through the feet, sit up nice and tall on your sitting bones, we'll reach the arms up, one more hamstring stretch, inhale, pashimottanasana, exhale, fold, letting your hands fall wherever they fall, let the spine be nice and long, let your shoulders soften, breathing in and out, beautiful and then roll up slowly, reach the arms forward, lengthen through the spine, slowly roll onto your back and find shavasana, let the palms face up, let the feet relax, let the arms be away from your body as you let your shoulders start to melt down, feel the heart lift, letting go, letting be, allow yourself the gift of presence, of rest, of integration, shavasana. And maybe gently rock your head side to side, feel into the neck, and then reach your arms up over your ears as you lengthen through the spine, big full breath in, point the toes, let out a sigh, releasing some tension, let the soles of the feet find the earth, bend your knees, rolling over to either side, take a moment on your side to pause, to notice, to check in, you're new now, and with that ease of shavasana, take your time as you come to seated, and drawing hands to heart, bowing in towards yourself, toward the teacher within, acknowledging yourself for showing up for you in this practice today, you feel a little bit lighter, a little bit more ease as you move out into the rest of your day, namaste.


Fern S
2 people like this.
I woke up with a case of the Monday's, but then I remembered your new classes come out today!!! This was another yummy class and I love your sequence in this one. It definitely got all my sticky spots after a beautiful day hiking yesterday.  So much gratitude. :)
Sandra Židan
Beautiful practice, Sarah! I've enjoyed doing it! Namaste! 💖
Sarah Beston
1 person likes this.
I’m so happy to hear that this practice helped kick a case of the Monday’s, Fern S! Yoga after a hike can feel so good! Wishing you a beautiful week. Warmly, Sarah
Sarah Beston
1 person likes this.
Wishing you a beautiful week, Sandra Židan! So happy to be practicing with you—much gratitude!
Francesca Venturini
I really enjoyed this class. My whole body, mind and soul are full of gratitude! Keep vibrating at this level, sending joy to all of us Sarah!
Glenford N
1 person likes this.
A great way to start the day by focussing on my two areas of tightness- shoulders and hamstrings. I felt like  a new man! Well, at least more relaxed, vibrant and energised. Namaste, Sarah.
1 person likes this.
Thank you Sarah, a beautiful way to start my day way down here in New Zealand. Kia Ora
Sarah Beston
So grateful to be practicing with you, Francesca Venturini! Wishing you and yours a lovely holiday season!
Sarah Beston
So happy to hear, Glenford N! I hope you are having a lovely holiday season and hope to practice with you again soon!
Sarah Beston
Thank you for practicing with me here, Trish! So grateful. 
1-10 of 16

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Yoga Anytime Logo

Just Show Up

Over 2,900 yoga and meditation practices to bring you Home.

15-Day Free Trial