Yogamama: Release Your Tight Hamstrings with the Triangle Pose

Release Your Tight Hamstrings With the Triangle Pose
Here are six easy steps to a perfect Trikonasana. What follows: relief

By Karri Jinkins
In 2000, during one of my yearly visits to India to study yoga, I suffered a terrible back injury. After much pain, stress, and sleepless nights, I sought the advice of first an orthopedic doctor and second my 80-something-year-old yoga teacher. Needless to say, I got two very different recommendations for relieving the pain. The doctor suggested I stop doing yoga and rest. “Lie on your back,” he said. The yoga teacher suggested I go to practice every day and do forward and backward bending religiously. After a day, I decided to take my yoga teacher’s advice and pursue my practice. What I discovered was that I had incredibly tight hamstrings, and they seemed to be the root cause of my excruciating back pain.

Over the course of my stay, I was able to stretch out and release my hamstrings, and in turn relieve some of the tension on my lower back. I learned that the hamstrings—three large muscles in the back of the thigh—can limit motion in the pelvis if they are tight, and that often motion gets transferred to the spot where the lumbar and sacral spine meet. That increases the physical stress on an already fragile area.

One of the poses I find the most helpful in loosening up this sore spot is Trikonasana (Triangle). The key to success is to be gentle. Stop, don’t push, when you have reached your point of resistance (hold at the early part of that spot, not the end) and breathe for two to five minutes if possible. This will give the connective tissue a chance to release. I now love triangle pose so much that I often move into it during the day while cleaning, cooking dinner, or picking up the toys strewn across my son’s bedroom floor.

  1. Position your feet about 3½ feet apart and turn your right foot perpendicular to your left.
  2. Inhale, stretch your arms wide apart.
  3. Exhale, reach your right hand down toward your right toe. If you can take your big toe do so now, or take your ankle, shin, knee, or thigh instead. (Be mindful of your point of resistance here. You may only be able to place your hand on your knee to begin with, and that’s just fine).
  4. Inhale, reach your left arm up toward the ceiling or sky, and if you are able to, turn your head to look up toward your left thumb. Hold here and breathe freely in and out through your nose; smile.
  5. After two to five minutes here, inhale, lift up to stand.
  6. Exhale, turn your feet and reach your left hand down toward the left toe, reversing sides.

What ails you? If you have an ache or pain you think yoga could help, please contact Yogamama at, or post a question in the comment section below.

Karri Jinkins’s archetypes are Spiritual, Caregiver, and Athlete. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Jinkins has taught Ashtanga yoga and meditation for over 15 years, and you can take a class with her now at AYNY in New York City. She is also the co-owner of Yogamat Clothing, an eco-friendly, sweatshop-free line of activewear made in the USA. Find her on Twitter @karrijinkins.