Marcus was a client of mine who came to me for Pilates classes. However we did very little Pilates and focused on his acute lack of flexibility, through mobility and yoga. He wore very high heels for work every day (yes men also have high heels on their every day working shoes!) and explained to me how he tore his hamstring not once, but twice. He had had a wee bit too much to drink and challenged a girl outside a bar to a race. He lost. He did not warm up and never stretched a day in his life, but was proud of how hard he could box and how hard his personal trainer worked him. What was he thinking! I think after watching my expression, he decided not to tell me how it happened the second time. It took months of painful massage and ball rolling to get rid of some of the scar tissue and cajole the hamstrings back to a somewhat normal length. I was not a YTU teacher at the time, but now he’s adding a daily shot (pun intended) of Asymmetrical Uttanasana.
Use this stretch to help your hamstrings.
Watch our free Quickfix videos.
Just learned this in class! Adding PNF technique in this pose was also super helpful!
I love Asymmetrical Uttanasana for my tight hamstrings as well. This stretch feels so good. I love it for how it stretches my hip and outer thigh / pelvis muscles as well since they are really tight from sitting all the time from in front of the computer, to watching TV, driving, sitting on the train.
I have several students who have back problems and I think this work could really help them.
Also, pretty sure some of my weightlifting students are lying to me when I ask them about how much they stretch their hamstrings – even though they know I can tell the moment they start moving!
love this one, feel soooo great
In addition to yoga I run, kickbox and do HITT workouts. I often feel at war with myself between yoga and the other styles of strength training. I feel like my hamstrings restrict my yoga practice and it’s frustrating.
I’m guessing it’s a fairly common thing since everyone at my gym complains about how inflexible they are.
I’m interested to share this exercise and dive deeper into other Yoga Tune Up strategies for lengthening the hamstrings.
I’m a former runner & cyclist so my hamstrings often feel a tight as steel cables. I’m always looking for a safe way to help gain some flexibility in my hamstrings. Adding Jill’s video was a great addition to your article.
Cette pose est une révélation pour moi! C’est une décompression complète, un relâchement parfait. Je l’ai apprise aujourd’hui et je l’ai adoré. Très belle variation a enseigner.
My hips love this pose and my hips don’t lie;) Thanks for posting!
Hi Yasmen. Thanks for the post and bringing up the importance of using asymmetric training to build better balance in the body. Asymmetrical Uttanasana training is similar to lifting weights with only one limb at a time: it significantly reduces the problem of cross-dominant compensation. After watching that video, I’m going to have to hop on my block and try this because I also have a long history of tight hamstrings. Thanks again.
Cette pose est une révélation pour moi! C’est une décompression complète, un relâchement bienfaiteur. Je l’ai apprise aujourd’hui et elle fera partie désormais de mes coups de coeur! Merci
Thanks for the story. I had never tried this pose asymmetrically until a few days ago but with the proper alignment of the pelvis I found that the proprioceptive boost that went through the hip joint added so much to this already liberating pose. It is indeed a keeper – I will listen carefully to my S-I joints and proceed as they dictate!
I love this pose for people who need extra help stretching their hamstrings. Thanks for the suggestion!
One of my favorite teachers incorporated this into a vinyasa class as a prelude to getting into bird of paradise. I have a difficult time with that pose and found that this approach helped me identify the imbalance between left and right sides, gave me time to breathe more space into the tight hamstrings and I can only describe the feeling in my IT bands when in the twist as “special.” But when I do this at home, I can dissolve my edges with the breath, create more space, and when attempting bird of paradise on the block, wow, I can actually extend the lifted leg out!
This is a awesome stretch for dancers.
I love the fact that this is asymmetrical. I do not know many people who are even on both sides. This stretch gives you an opportunity to really explore your edge on each leg without comparing. This will help get rid of any negative talk in your head “Oh my left side is so much tighter than my right” but will rather let you make your way into the stretch without judgement.
Thanks Garrett for your question. The bottom of the squat is complex, especially if you are lifting heavy. How you explode up, depends on how well you set it up and went down. In any squat the set up is always butt tight (sets the pelvis) then abs engage, then work the torque in the hips by ext rotating the femur without moving the feet — breath and then lower. If the knees collapse in, if the back changes shape or if the toes come off the ground, any or all can snowball the squat and coming up will be very difficult.
If all is good in the set up and decent then I use the torque I created to fire the glutes to push upward with the legs. Hope that helps.
This pose rocks my world! My hamstrings are perfect for a person who is 5’7″ unfortunately, I am 6′ tall! I’ve decided to start marking my block to see the distance traveled over time, the tangible results help give me encouragement to keep working. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will lengthening my hammies!
I experienced this posture in a vinyasa class once and integrated it into my own classes. I find that this posture creases the awareness of the hip joint in postures such as standing splits and warrior three. Many times in those postures, students tend to compensate for there lack of stability and strength by externally rotating the hip and increase the bearing of weight on the joint. I have always loved this posture and now I am thrilled to be learning about it officially in Yoga Tune Up TT.
This is one of the first Yoga Tune Up poses i ever tried, and it is definitely my favourite. I love how it wakes up the side of your body, and how you can’t help but notice the difference in tightness between the two sides! I share this one with everyone i know!
I can relate to this whole heel issue. In fact because my own feet were in constant external rotation, my heels all are crooked sideways! I have constantly tight hammies! Thanks to the lower leg stretches as well as Asymmetrical Uttanasana, I can help keep my shoes longer! lol
I just learned this today in my Level 1 YTU. Love this variation. As a yoga teacher, I sometimes teach uttanasana with one knee bent and walk the hands out to the side but adding the block makes it OH SO “INTERESTING” 🙂
As someone who has to stay on top of tight hamstrings I too love asymmetrical uttanasana. I also I find the pelvic primer and leg stretch series invaluable for my hamstrings and external rotators. Great conversation with Susan on SI joint instability with the pose – I hadn’t considered that, but now I will pay closer attention when practising the pose with two students in particular who experience occasional SI joint pain. And also another good reminder that all poses are not for all people!
I have quite a few fit male yoga students especially that this pose would help. They are incredibly fit but can not bend over or even thinking about touching the floor.
One more thing. A forward bend goes straight down. The pelvis does not break in to an anterior tilt which is very common. If you put one thumb on your xiphoid process and one on your pubic synthesis, that line should stay the same.
Yes I just got an e-mail back from Luis another great YTU teacher. He confirmed my initial thought and that is, if you have SI joint issues and you have a pelvis that is not stable to begin with then yes this may be not the pose for you. To loosen up the hammies, try rolling on a ball at the origin of the hamstrings. You can do this on a chair or on the floor as an alternative.
Hope this helps
Let me confer with a few people, but yes, a good rule of thumb is to stop anything that does not feel right or does not work for you. I have two things to think about though
1. Check that both your feet were lined up in the same parallel lines, even though one is on the block. This will line up your pelvis correctly.
2. NEVER force the issue. If the leg on the block cannot straighten, don’t force it, as that can also throw the pelvis off. Feel free to adjust the height, maybe start on a much lower block or a thin book, about an inch off the floor.
I tried this pose and it felt really good. I tried it on two different occasions, and each time afterwards my easily-shifted sacrum had misaligned. This misalignment happens somewhat regularly, but it’s interesting that occurred each time I did the assymetrical uttanasana. Am I doing something wrong? Is an unstable sacrum a contra-indication for this pose? A response or e-mail would be greatly appreciated!
I have been practicing yoga for a long long time now and being a teacher I thought I had most of my stretching figured out, BUT when Jill taught me this pose, my whole world changed! I felt like a beginner again who had never experienced a muscle being stretched before! What a pose! In fact I have found it invaluable the way she teaches poses asymmetrically to enhance and deepen different aspects of poses. There is so much to learn when we challenge the way we see these poses. I am incredibly grateful for her teachings but mostly my gratitude lies in this pose!
I tried this, when I first saw it here, about a month ago¡ It is a great stretch and if feels sooooo good¡