If you struggle with tight hamstrings, this five-minute yoga challenge will feel like a blessing for sure.
FIVE-MINUTE YOGA | Massaging the soles of the feet loosens the starting point of a network of connective tissue that runs up the back of your body to the crown of your head. Rolling a tennis ball under each foot for just five minutes a day will lead to more relaxed feet and flexible hamstrings.
First test your hamstrings. Stand with your legs straight, come into a forward bend, and make a note of where your hands touch, whether it’s the floor, a stair, or even the seat of a chair.
3 Steps + 5 Minutes = Hamstring Release
1. Stand close to a wall on a yoga mat or carpet, with one hand on the wall for balance. Place a tennis ball under one foot and start to roll the sole of your foot over the tennis ball. If a tennis ball initially feels too harsh, use a softer, more forgiving ball until your feet adapt.
2. Experiment with the amount of weight you can put into the ball and still have an intense yet pleasant sensation. Drape your toes over the tennis ball and massage the backs of your toes. Then work your way down the sole of your foot all the way back to your heel. Roll along the inner and outer arches. Keep rolling for at least two minutes—it helps to set a timer or watch a clock—and then move to your other foot.
3. Once you’ve worked both feet, revisit your forward bend. You may be surprised to find that-abracadabra!-your hamstrings have lengthened by as much as an inch or two. In fact massaging your feet can relax and invigorate your whole body.
For Continued Relief
Continue to roll your feet daily for a week. Especially welcome after a long walk, this exercise can be done any time, and almost anywhere. If you are free to take your shoes off when you sit to work, you can even keep a tennis ball under your desk and do impromptu rolling sessions while sitting down. Do it at the beginning of a longer practice to bring extra awareness to all of your poses.
Beware of excess enthusiasm, however. Stick with a moderate pressure and a modest amount of time—two to four minutes per foot if you’re standing, 10 if you’re sitting down. It’s possible to hurt the muscles in your feet by rolling too much and too fiercely.
Want more? Visit Eve Johnson’s informed and entertaining blog myfiveminuteyoga.com for a weekly Five-Minute Yoga Challenge and other friendly suggestions for building a yoga practice.
Photo: Courtesy Eve Johnson, yogaon7th.com