Pyramid Pose in Yoga - a classic hamstring stretch Yoga pose. I love the geometrical shape of this pose.
I love Pyramid pose because it stretches the hamstring muscle of my front leg. My hamstring is relatively short, but I understand that I'm more flexible than an average person. So I can see that to many Yoga beginners, Pyramid Pose is a lot of stretchy feeling.
Let me first tell you the story of people who were born with a long hamstring. I have met some of them, they can do a split with their hips on the floor without any warm-up. That's why in Yoga class, we are told not to compare our Yoga pose to other people's, but instead focus on feeling your own pose.
So what is the hamstring? It's a large muscle covering the whole backside of the leg, with one end connecting to the sit bones and the other end in the middle of the shinbone. Nowadays with the modern lifestyle, we sit a lot, and when we sit, we bend the knees all the time, which shortens the hamstring. Short hamstring happens also to sporty people who train a lot of running, weightlifting, etc. However, in the first case, the hamstring is weak and tight. In the second case, the hamstring is strong and tight. For most people who just start Yoga, they have tight hamstring.
So what do you do in Pyramid pose if you have tight hamstring? Bend your front knee. That doesn't mean you are not stretching, you still stretch even with your knee bend. Keep your front knee bent and try to pull the sitting bone (your buttock) back, you still stretch the hamstring at the thicker part of it. Bend your knee to different angle to aim the stretch to the whole hamstring, remember it's a long, large muscle. As you progress with Yoga, you will be able to straighten your leg one day.
You can touch the floor with your fingertips, or hold blocks. I absolutely go for the block option because it gives us space to ¨straighten¨ the back so that we can feel the action of flexing at the hip. Therefore we can bring the sitting bone higher to stretch the hamstring more effectively.
It doesn't matter if the heel of your back foot is on the floor or lifted. What matters is that you keep your hips ¨square¨ so that you flex your hip and stretch the hamstring of the front leg. Choose the suitable side of the blocks for your body.
For Yoga beginners who are stiff, you don't even have to hold blocks on the floor. Keep your spine neutral and flex your hip. Just leaning forward a little bit feels stretchy already for the hamstring of the front leg.
The person on the right photo is stretching very much even though he doesn't ¨look¨ so. If we don't have access to Yoga blocks, we can hold hands at the shinbone, or thigh bone. You can also hold hands at your hips to feel your hips equal on both sides (square hip).
Pyramid Pose in Yoga also stretches the ankle of the front leg. If it's too much for your body, put your foot on a block to make it less intense.
One very stable prop that we can use in Yoga: the wall. Instead of holding your hands at your hips, on the floor, on your leg, etc., you can put your hands on a wall to support Pyramid Pose. This makes it even easier to keep your back straight (neutral spine) for the hip flexion action to stretch the hamstring more efficiently. Once your body get used to it and gains more flexibility, increase the stretch by flexing more at your hip and flexing at the spine too. Walk the hands down on the wall to encourage deeper forward bend.
Thank you for reading! More about how to Prop Up Standing Poses in Yoga:
Introduction of Standing Poses - Chair Pose
Basic Standing Poses: High Lunge, Warrior 1, Warrior 2
Extended Side Angle Pose and bounded hands variation
See how I use basic Yoga props to do ANY Yoga poses in my Prop Up Project:
Yoga Poses in the Sun Salutations
Prop Up Project from Ha My Yoga to help you do more than 80 Yoga poses easier and more effectively with simple Yoga props like block, strap, wall, blanket, bolster, etc. So you can really enjoy doing Yoga!
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