As a yoga instructor, one of the most common excuses I hear from people who "can't do yoga" is that they can't touch their toes. Flexibility seems to be something that many people talk about with a wistfulness in their voice, as if it's something they'll never be able to achieve. Listen, take it from me, learning how to touch your toes can be incredibly simple. You just have to make time for it.
Whether you're sitting at a desk all day and your hips are tight as hell, or you work out on the reg but literally always make an excuse when it comes time to cool down and stretch it out, your toes probably feel like they're miles away when you go to reach for them.
Also, a quick side note: Touching your toes (or being flexible in general) is totally not indicative of how fit you are, or what your body is capable of. But if your goal is to have a bendy body, with a little consistency and commitment to your stretching routine, your toes will no longer feel like they're in a different zip code than the rest of your body.
Here are five stretches that will provide you with the happiest of hamstrings and make touching your toes feel like a total no-brainer.
1. Forward Fold
Standing forward fold is a calming stretch that prepares the body for deeper forward bends.
The next time you try to talk yourself out of stretching, know that just a minute of practicing a forward fold can deeply stretch and lengthen your hamstrings and calves, while opening your hips and relieving tension in your neck and shoulders.
Be sure to keep a slight bend in your knees if your hammies feel especially tight, and work your way up to straightening your legs only when your muscles feel ready.
Your fingers will be BFFs with your toes in no time. #FriendshipGoals, amirite?
2. Kneeling Hamstring Stretch
This stretch will lengthen your hamstrings big time, and you'll feel this bad boy doing its job right away.
A kneeling hamstring stretch is an incredible move for anyone, but it provides a special kind of breath of fresh air to the avid runner.
Speaking of runners, if you want to be able to touch your toes, always remember to take a few minutes to stretch after a jog. Your hammies will thank you for it, trust me.
3. Seated Straddle
This baby will feel heavenly after a long run or bike ride, as the movement stretches out your hips, hamstrings, and lower back all at the same time.
Make sure your back stays flat as your fold forward and melt into the pose. If you feel any rounding or uncomfortable sensations, make sure to pause and listen to your body.
4. Pigeon Pose
Pigeon pose is essentially the king of hip-openers, and it's one of those movements that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "hurts so good." But trust me, once you incorporate this pose into your regular routine, you'll crave this deep hip stretch all day, every day.
It's important for your hips to be even and supported not just for proper posture and alignment, but also for avoiding injuries. So be sure to use a blanket or two underneath your butt if needed.
And if pigeon pose is just not your jam in general, feel free to modify it by trying a figure four stretch on your back instead.
5. Seated Forward Bend (With Resistance Band)
Finish off your stretchy sequence with a seated forward bend accompanied by just a bit of resistance.
Using a resistance band in this stretch will help your hamstrings attain the flexibility to go further, will help prevent injuries, and let you slowly melt into the perfect pose.
Hold this stretch for about eight deep breaths. With each exhale, think of how glorious the day will be when you can say goodbye to that strap and touch your toes with ease.