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The hamstrings are a group of three muscles located in the back of the thigh. If your hamstrings are weak and tight, they’re vulnerable to strain. Daily activities don’t stretch them, and tight hamstrings can cause all kinds of problems, including lower back pain, neck pain and muscle cramps, as well as limited range of motion in hips and knees.
The legs can hold on to tension, especially in a “fight or flight” situation; the hamstrings can grip as a physiological response to psychological stress. This tension moves into the tissues of the body as a hardening or bracing reaction, which can move into the mental attitudes we live in the world. This response can also set up an armor in response to challenging, complex and difficult situations.
The release in the hamstrings and back body may require a deeper level of surrender, and a release past conflicts, memories, anger, or resentment. Many asanas involve extension of the hamstring and spine, and perhaps forward folds teach this best. Forward folding helps provide a feeling of sanctuary and support, which calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression.
They open up the back body, lengthens and strengthens hamstrings, inner legs, spinal muscles, ankles and knees. The asanas mimic the shape of the body in the womb (primary curve), providing a physiologically nurturing support, which aids in working with anxiety and grief.