There are several poses in yoga that can help with those tight hamstrings. This seems to be one of the top mentions when it comes to inflexibility: the inability to bend over to touch your toes due to stiff legs. Some postures that can begin the process of lengthening out those short muscles are Standing Forward Bend and Seated Forward Fold. These are a couple of common, yet effective positions to practice when there is tightness in the hamstrings. The following pose, Triangle Pose, also taps into this area, but it also effectively opens the hips, another physical area of the body that tends to hold tension.
Trikonasana (tree-koh-nah-sah-nah) or Triangle Pose is a standing yoga posture that emphasizes the extension of the limbs and torso. The full formal name of the posture is Extended Triangle Pose. Here's how you can practice this yoga posture.
You would probably move into Triangle Pose from the Warrior 2 yoga posture, so let's begin there. In Warrior 2, your right foot is pointing forward on your yoga mat while your left foot is behind you. You are standing in a lunge. Your front knee is bent and aligned over your heel. The back leg is straight with your foot firmly planted into your yoga mat. Your torso is long and tall with your arms extending outward over your legs. (Your arms will be parallel to the floor.) Your gaze is over your right hand.
Now you're ready for Triangle Pose. Start by straightening your right leg. This begins the extending and lengthening quality of this posture. Reach out over your extended right leg as if you're reaching for the wall out in front of you. This will create a slight angle in the upper body. Now, imagine you're a tea kettle ready to pour your hot water into your tea cup; rotate your arms so that your right arm is reaching down toward your lengthened leg and your left hand is reaching toward the ceiling. Essentially, this is Triangle Pose.
From here, you can decide how deep you'd like to take this posture. If you're not highly flexible, then your right hand may only reach your knee or thigh. With greater mobility in the pelvis and hamstring, you may be able to reach lower, potentially to the ground.
To fine-tune the pose, pay attention to the following: ensure that your torso remains long. Be aware if you are bending over to reach the floor. Touching the ground isn't absolutely necessary in this posture. Instead, align your torso over your front leg. The top of your head should be pointing directly forward. If that means rising up so that your right hand rests on your shin, knee, or thigh, that's quite alright. Imagine you are leaning back against a wall; this will align your body properly in this position. And as mentioned earlier, the pose not only accentuates the extended limbs, but it also loosens up the hips due to the tipped-over formation of the body, like a tea kettle.
As you're able, hold the posture for 5-10 breaths. This will allow the stretch quality of the pose to be most effective. And be sure to practice the pose on the other side. Triangle Pose is a demanding posture, but holds many great benefits for the entire body.