Inner Workings Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 3

Hamstring Flossing

15 min - Practice


When we understand how we are put together, things make more sense. With a keen sense of curiosity and wonderment, we explore the hamstrings in relationship to the rotational movements of the hips. In addition to allowing more space in the hip joint and the backs of the legs, we are developing the basic skills that will assist in approaching more complex postures.
What You'll Need: Strap

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(waves crash, water splashes) So let's continue this exploration of the hips rotation, with adding the element of the hamstrings, which will allow for much easier access to the feeling tone. So I'm going to show with a strap, I recommend you find something like a yoga strap and if you don't happen to have a yoga strap, something like a towel or a bathrobe or an old necktie or your kid's karate costume will also work. Okie dokie. We'll start suprime. (sighs) Snuggle in, have your heels in line with the sit bones, big deliberate inhale, and exhale, let it happen.

Now remember earlier we explored the hip rotation so let's review that. Let your right knee come into your chest, let it extend up towards the sky, soften the right knee, and just to like tune your memory, inhale here, and as you exhale, externally rotate your hip so that your toes end up pointing out to the side, you know, duck foot. Inhale, internally rotate the hip, so the toes turn in, pigeon toe, okay, let's do that at least four more times, exhale, external rotation, get soft in the knee and the ankle, inhale, internal rotation. Exhale, inhale. And just notice, just two more times, exhale, inhale.

One more time, exhale, keeping a really close watch on my count this time, inhale, okay relax that, let the knee come into the chest and now we'll add the element of the hamstring because the hamstrings, they attach down to the sit bone, this bottom part of the pelvis also known as the ischial tuberosity. (jingles) Does it seem appropriate? I think I'm just gonna go for it and mention many things connect to the ischial tuberosity. Our teacher Gil Hedley has shown us that you might think the clitoris is just this tiny little thing but actually she extends her legs all the way to the ischial tuberosity, so, it's not unusual to feel other things when you're stretching and flossing your hamstring, let your right leg extend up towards the sky, now you don't have to use a strap, but it's nice because you want your shoulders to be relaxed. Okay, extend the leg straightish so you can feel the hamstring, now just because my leg extends straight doesn't mean yours does, you might feel your hamstring stretch with your knee quite bent, so you just wanna go to where you feel the flavor of the hamstring, and some of you might feel it more in the back of the knee tendons which is just the bottom part of the hamstring, now, keeping this left knee bent is generally often more supportive on the back.

Some of you might prefer to draw this left leg straight, that will intensify the opportunity which may or may not be appropriate. I like to give a little flex through that foot. Okay now here's the play, with the hamstring involved in the equation now, inhale, and as you exhale, externally rotate your hip so that your toes turn out. And then internally rotate your hip so that your toes turn in, so now what you're doing because the hamstring is involved, okay, you can feel more the reaction and the result of the hip rotation in the leg because note that it's hamstrings, not hamstring, you've got multiple ones going down different parts of the leg, okay so a couple more moments like this, usually we refer to this as flossing the hamstrings. Okay, soften the mouth, easing the eyes, and absolutely key, and I was mentioning in the introduction absolutely key to this yoga process is a quality of wonderment, in fact, the shiva sutra, sutra 1.12, vismaya yoga bhumika, wonderment, okay?

Is the foundation of yoga, so as you're doing this, you gotta be interested. Okay come into neutral, come into where it's central, and then you know maybe let the leg wobble a little closer towards you. Okay, now let's find it out to the side, so, I'm gonna place my left hand on my left hip to help her stay stable, you might prefer to reach her out to the side. And then you're gonna let that right leg open out to the right, and again, you're just letting it open out to the right as far as it feels correct for you. And then the play, once you've opened up that leg to the right, the play is that we're gonna move into that rotation again, so you inhale here and as you exhale you're rotating your hip so your toes are pointing more towards the earth.

And as you inhale, you're rotating your hips so your heel is pointing more towards the earth, and what you'll notice as you continue this you'll notice that one direction feels quite normal, quite natural, like no problem, you could be there all day. And one direction probably feels like what? One direction probably feels like wrong, weird, funky, and maybe even therefore wrong. The play on this next one is coming to where it feels like kind of like weird for you, so for me it's heel towards the floor, and then relax, soften across the shoulders, soften across the eyes. Okay, super nice, now, on an inhale you're gonna let that leg come all the way back up, wobble, and just let her come a little closer towards your face just for a few more moments.

And then what I like to do is release the strap shake her out a little bit, couple ankle circles, and then I like to flex the foot, not everybody does but I like to flex the foot and let the leg lower all the way back down to the earth. Okay now pause for a moment with both of your legs straight, just take a moment with both of your legs straight. Big deep breathing, now exhale everything and just do your best to relax down through that right leg and just notice the effect okay? Essentially a flossing, like, of finding all these different spots and angles and crevices and nooks and crannies. Just feel the result.

Okay, super nice. Okay let's find the other side, so I'm gonna start out again with my knees bent, and again, you might not want to use the strap, I just, the reason I like to use it is because it just helps, it helps my shoulders stay relaxed, okay, so we'll start again, left leg up towards the sky, soften the left knee, and I think we did about 5 rounds, so inhale here, and as you exhale, externally rotate the hip so the toes turn out, and then inhale, internally rotate that hip so the toes turn in, exhale, external rotation, inhale, internal rotation, and again what you're doing here in these beginning lessons, three more. What you're doing here is you're just starting to get to know how you're put together. The difficulty with approaching these oscena shapes without having a sense of our basic building blocks is that it can be confusing as to why some thing's apparently working or not working. And by spending some time getting to know how we're put together, I'm gonna add a bonus one, I'm pretty sure I've done five, but I'll do six.

(makes mouth noises) But the benefit of getting to know how you're put together is that things make more sense, it, it's easier to communicate if we have a common language and if you and I are later on in a practice together and I'm suggesting to externally rotate your hip then you'll know what I might mean, okay? So left leg comes up towards the sky, now you're gonna let the left leg draw straight, now I've made my strap really short and stubby, you might have your strap longer, okay you might have it even longer, like this is much nicer than my short stubby version. So, left leg is extending up towards the sky, again, maybe the right knee stays bent, I'm gonna show it bent on this one so you know it's a real option. Keep the leg straight, and then as you're ready, inhale here, and as you exhale, excuse me, externally rotate, and then as you inhale, internally rotate. And then exhale, externally rotate, and like, let your mind's eye really go down towards your ischial tuberosity, towards the bottom there and just feel like, (giggles) the differences of how things feel back there when you're in external rotation, when you're in internal rotation, okay you're trying to learn about yourself, and the difficulty for most of us is what happens to us often as we come across sensation, the first response is so often oh that shouldn't be there, you know?

Sometimes there's this illusion that you're trying to make yourself totally numb to the life. The purpose of this yoga to increase our capacity for experience, to increase our sensitivity. Okay, so come into the middle point and then just kind of wobble that leg a little side to side, okay? Again you might be keeping this knee bent, you might be letting it draw straight. Okay now hold the strap in just the left hand or if you prefer holding the foot or leg of course you're allowed, let that leg open out to the side, now, if you're working with this knee bent, what I like to do is let her open this way, it helps balance the situation if I don't have the strength of extension.

So as this leg comes out, okay, notice your natural propensity so for me my natural propensity is toes towards the earth, okay so inhale here, exhale, rotate your hips so your toes point more towards the earth, and then as you inhale rotate your hips so your heel points more towards the earth, exhale, nice. Inhale, and just get a sense, also this is another, you know we did a lot of this in season one where you're trying to get a sense of your reaction like because if you notice that every time you come into intensity you're mad about it, that's really good information. If every time something's easy, you're bored by it, that's good information. So you're, this isn't just about your hip and your hamstring obviously, this is about how are you in the exploration. Pretty sure that's almost about the same amount as both sides so come into the one that's weird for you, stay there, soften across the collar bone, soften the face.

(sighs) Nice, okay, inhale, let that leg come back up to center, let the leg wobble a little closer to your face, if this right knee is still bent let her extend, okay? And then eventually remove the strap, let the leg shake out a little bit, and then I like to flex that foot, lead with the heel, let her lower all the way back down to the earth. And then rest, big deliberate inhale and exhale everything. And then I notice the effect, like notice the feeling tone of you that might now be available because you checked out new perspective of yourself, this is, this is really the point, it's like, like can we see ourselves from different viewpoints than the same old, same old? (making mouth noises) Okay, and you might just rest here.

It feels pretty nice, soften, in the first season we really spent a lot of time on the pelvic floor so relax the floor of the pelvis, rest. Okay nice, and we're gonna come back up to sitting. (making mouth noises) Crossing my ankles, roll back up. So try that, again, what we're trying to do is we're trying to get a sense of how we're put together. So as you have a sense of oh, well how the hamstrings feel as you externally and internally rotate, then when you're in a hamstring stretch of which in yoga there are multiple and many, you'll have a little bit more mastery might be the word, just a little bit more sense of how things work and how you might be able to more effectively play within these shapes, this is really what it's about.

We're playing here, and you're a much more effective player if you've got skills. Thanks for being here, see you soon.


Elaine Hedley Keefer

Perfect for me especially since I am so very stiff :(
Simon ?
Really dissolved tightness in the back of my legs. I will do this one often. Amazing Kira.
Kira Sloane
1 person likes this.
Simon, happy. xok
Kira Sloane
Kathy! LOVE!
Silke S
1 person likes this.
Thank you again for a great practice. I never practiced the hamstrings stretch with an inwards and outwards hip rotation. Untypical for me, and intense for my hips, but they felt energized after the practice.
Kira Sloane
Silke, happy to hear! xok
Joan J
Wow, just that slight rotation of the foot got deep into my hips. I experienced very new, and intense, sensations. This is a practice I will do every day, my hips and hamstrings are very tight. Hopefully it will help me loosen up in these areas, thank you Kira.
Kira Sloane
1 person likes this.
Hi Joan! It's amazing in there isn't it!!?? Glad you are here. xok
Joan J
1 person likes this.
So great, doing this every day. I feel fabulous after this flossing of the hip joints.
Kira Sloane
Right on, Joan!
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