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Yoga Postures for Strong Legs

Strengthen you leg muscles with these yoga poses so you can run longer, jump higher and burn more calories when walking through your busy day.

Many people associate yoga with flexibility and stretching, but many yoga postures are isometric strength building postures as well. Try this sequence to build stamina and strengthen and tone your legs.

Chair Pose with a block (Utkatasana variation)

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Chair pose strongly strengthens all parts of your legs, and also the back, shoulders and core. It also increases flexibility in the ankles. This variation with the block targets the inner thighs.

To get into the posture:
Stand with your feet hip bone width apart and the center lines of your feet parallel to one another. Place a block between the middle of your thighs the narrow way and squeeze the block with your thighs. Bring your hands together at your heart, and on an exhale bend the knees and sink your hips toward the floor, allowing your torso to bend forward slightly to get approximately a 90 degree angle between your torso and thighs. On an inhale, reach your arms skyward, palms facing in. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths.

Helpful Hints:

• If your shoulders get fatigued, place your hands together at your heart.

• Keep your weight back toward your heels. You can lift your toes off the floor for a variation.

Crescent lunge with dips (Anjaneyasana variation)

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Crescent lunge builds strength in the quadriceps and hamstrings, and the dips work the hip flexors, too! In addition to strengthening the legs, it also stretches the hip flexors and challenges your balance.

To get into the posture:
Stand with your feet hip bone width (two fist widths) apart, and your second toe tendons (the center lines of your feet) parallel to one another. Spread your right toes wide and root the foot into the floor. Step your left foot back to a high lunge position; this can be a shallow lunge of about a leg length between the feet, or a deep lunge with the right thigh bone parallel to the floor, or anywhere in between depending on your strength and flexibility. On an inhale, reach your arms skyward, with your palms facing each other. Focus your gaze on one point to help you keep your balance. Stay for 5-10 deep breaths, then step your left foot forward to the front of your mat and switch legs.

Adding the dips:
From crescent lunge, on an inhale bend your back knee forward and down toward the floor, getting it within an inch of the floor, and exhale come back to crescent lunge. Make sure to not straighten the front knee, most of the motion is in the back leg. Repeat 5 times, then switch legs.

Helpful Hint:

• If balance is tricky, practice this standing your arms length away from the wall so you can catch yourself, or stand between two folding chairs and hold on to the tops of the two chairs for support.

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana)

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Warrior II both strengthens and stretches the legs and encourages openness in the groin. It is also a powerful pose that boosts your confidence!

To get into the posture:
Stand at the front of your mat with your feet together. Spread your right toes wide and root the right foot into the floor, then step your left foot slightly farther than your leg length toward the back of your mat. Land the left foot with your second toe parallel to the short edge of your mat, and left arch of your foot in line with your right heel. Extend your arms straight out from the shoulders, and then on an exhale bend your right knee until your knee is right on top of your ankle, keeping the knee in line with your second toe. Stay for 5-10 breaths, then switch legs.

Helpful Hint:

• Make sure to balance your weight between your front and back legs. If the front leg is carrying most of your weight, you will get fatigued faster.

• If your arms get fatigued, place your hands together at your heart.

• If your front knee is easily in line with your second toe, try to square your hips toward the long edge of your mat.

• Make sure your front knee is directly on top of the ankle, not in front of it, as this puts pressure on the knee.

• If your thigh gets fatigued, you can straighten the leg slightly and bring the knee behind the ankle, or shorten the distance between your feet.

Horse Pose

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Horse pose strengthens the thighs and glutes, as well as providing a nice opening in the groins.

To get into the posture:
Stand facing the long edge of your mat, and extend your arms straight out from the shoulders. Step your feet out to approximately the width of your arms with your toes turned out about 45 degrees. Bend both knees until your thighbones are close to parallel to the floor, tracking both knees in line with the second toes. Roll your tailbone down toward the floor to lengthen the low back. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Helpful Hint:

• Make sure the angle of your feet matches the angle of your thighs; you can turn your toes in or out more to match the thighs and keep the knees safe.

 




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