Hatha yoga for hip and hamstring flexibility

Here is a short hatha yoga asana practice to stretch and open the hips and hamstrings. Great for when quarantine has you sat on your butt all day 🙂

Move slowly and mindfully focusing on your breath and alignment in the postures. Hold each pose for around 5-10 breaths. Use props to support you if you need and feel free to ask in the comments if you want specific advice.


Start in downward facing dog. Aim for a straight line between your head and tail bone – bend your knees if you need to. A straight spine is more important than straight legs.


Walk your feet towards your hands into forward fold. Relax your spine and release tension from your neck and shoulders. Hands can be on the floor, ankles or shins. Again bend your knees as much as you need to to relax into the pose.


Step your left leg back into low lunge. Keep your core muscles engaged and focus on rotating your pelvis backward so that you feel the stretch in your thigh and front of your hip.


Raise your arms above your head and side bend to the right to increase the stretch on your hip flexors and side body.


For a deeper quad and hip flexor stretch, lift the left foot and catch hold with your left hand (or use a yoga strap if you can’t reach). Gently pull your foot inwards still keeping your core tight and pelvis tilting backwards.


Move into a hamstring stretch by sitting back onto your left heel. Focus on engaging the right thigh muscle and keeping your spine straight to protect your knee and back.


If you want a deeper hamstring stretch you can work on your splits practice – use blocks to support your weight and try to keep your torso as upright as possible.


Stretch back into downward facing dog and move your feet and hips to loosen up.


Lift your right leg into three-legged dog. Focus on keeping your weight even in both hands and shoulders aren’t shrugging up by your ears.


Swing your right leg through into half pigeon pose. Keep your foot flexed to protect your knee and place a block or cushion under your hip for support. You should feel a deep stretch in your outer thigh and hip but no sharp pains!


To deepen the stretch, relax your torso forward and rest your forehead onto your hands. Breathe deeply here, this is an intense stretch but try to relax any tension or resistance you feel in your hip and find ease in the pose.

Now repeat all of the above on the other side 


Come to a seated position and place the soles of your feet together into cobblers pose. You can press down gently on your knees using your elbows to open up your hips further.


Bend forward from the hips and relax your torso over your thighs. Rather than head towards your feet aim to move your chest towards your feet to help keep your spine straight. Relax into the pose and breathe deeply


Move into a wide leg seated position. Reach your right hand to your right foot and raise your left hand over your head to feel an intense side stretch. Repeat on the other side.


Move into a seated wide leg forward fold. If you have a big cushion or bolster you can place it in front of you to rest your torso and relax deeper into the pose.

Finally (and most importantly!) move into savasana, corpse pose. I didn’t take a photo but it is pretty self explanatory..


Stay here as long you like, the longer the better. As a minimum take 20 deep breaths in and out and allow your muscles to let go and release any remaining tension. If you feel tempted to get up, imagine roots growing down into the earth from your ankles and hands.. you couldn’t move even if you wanted to so you might as well let yourself relax and be supported by the ground.

I hope you enjoy the practice! Namaste.

How I’m managing PMS during quarantine

The second part of my cycle has been more difficult than the first in some ways. I thought it would be ovulation that would be difficult as this is the time when I am much more motivated to be out there doing things and meeting people. But I tend to crave a lot of time alone during the pre-menstrual phase and this can be pretty difficult when you are stuck at home with others. I have had to set some boundaries so that I can have the space I need otherwise I can easily start to feel suffocated and frustrated.

On the plus side, being in lockdown means that demands on my time are at an all time low right now. Normally when my luteal phase comes around I am exhausted after taking on too much during the first half of my cycle. Balancing work, social life and trying to stay active is doable up till ovulation when my energy levels are rising but once I pass that turning point, I can easily start to feel overwhelmed by the tasks on my to do list and activities in my calendar. Normally this looks like me crying more than usual and being more irritable but in bad months it can sometimes feel like the earth has opened up beneath my feet and I am just falling into the depths of despair. However, the pre-menstual phase naturally lends itself to the slower paced quarantine-life.

I am still working but from home but a lot of my normal work is on hold until the social distancing restrictions are lifted. I don’t have any children (only my baby cat Teddy) so I am suddenly blessed with a lot of free time at home which has allowed me to slow down during this part of my cycle. I have been able to get back to some long forgotten creative hobbies and I’ve been reading a lot. I’ve got back to a daily yoga practice and found a morning routine that helps me to ground and centre myself at the start of each day. I have also had time to write in my journal which has helped to process all of the crap that my inner critic brings up at this time of the month.

Another one of my escapes has been going for walks. We’re only supposed to go out of the house once a day but as I wake up early I have been sneaking out a second time in the morning when no one else is around. I’ve really enjoyed walking around a big park opposite our house. I probably look crazy doing laps of the same field but I find it relaxing or even meditative. When you walk in the same place every day you can really notice the differences in the time of day and weather. You get to know the plants and the wildlife and its cool to watch them shift as the seasons change. Sometimes I listen to music or podcasts or call my family but mostly I just walk and listen to the sounds of nature.

I am on day 28 of my cycle right now so coming towards the end of my luteal phase. I’ve had a boost of energy and motivation the last few days for cleaning the house and getting chores done so that I can take a few days off for a menstrual retreat or “big bleed”. I got the idea from the book Wildpower by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Wurlitzer and I thought this is the perfect time to give it a go. I really want experience of true surrender  and access the full power of menstruation. Every much I try to take it easier and give myself time to rest and recover during my period but often there are many things I still have to do and I often come out of this phase feeling more tired as I haven’t been able to listen to my body’s signals.

So this week I have hoovered the entire house, emptied the washing basket, weeded the garden and done a BIG shop. I have enlisted the support of my boyfriend and told him that I will be needing a bit of space for a few days once I start bleeding. I have created a sanctuary space in our spare room where I have a cosy corner for relaxing, a bookshelf with all of my yoga and health books, my yoga mat and my sewing box. My plan is to rest as much as I need to, nourish my body, take  epsom salt baths, get lots of sleep and spend time every day in meditation. Hopefully I will come out of this refreshed and inspired for my next cycle. I have some projects that I want to dedicate myself to in the coming months and I think I need this to get my creative fire going again!