Yoga For Legs: 7 Poses for Toning, Strengthening, Flexibility – Healthline

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Yoga For Legs: 7 Poses for Toning, Strengthening, Flexibility – Healthline

It’s no secret that practicing yoga can boost your mental, physical, and spiritual health. This ancient practice is known for its ability to reduce stress, ease minor pain, relieve anxiety, and improve the quality of your sleep.
But did you know that yoga can also pack a serious punch when it comes to your legs? That’s right: Both standing and supine (lying face up) yoga poses may help improve balance, flexibility, and strength in your lower body.
Let’s get into how yoga can benefit your legs and the poses that can be especially helpful.
According to Mara Olney, yoga teacher and owner of LÜM Health Studio, your legs will definitely feel the love during a yoga class.
“In yoga, it’s not uncommon to hold some of the standing strength and balancing poses until your legs are shaking. This allows you to feel the muscles being activated, creating the essential mind-body connection, which makes yoga a mindful form of exercise,” she said.
What makes some yoga postures so beneficial for your legs, says Olney, is that they balance strengthening and stretching — the key to having healthier, stronger, more flexible legs.
According to a small 2016 study, male college athletes who participated in a 10-week, biweekly yoga group increased their flexibility and balance more than the group that didn’t practice yoga.
The researchers concluded that adding a yoga program to traditional training methods helped enhance the athletes’ fitness and sports performance.
Another study from 2014 looked at the effectiveness of Hatha yoga compared with that of calisthenics in a group of older adults. The researchers found that after 1 year, Hatha yoga more effectively improved their flexibility compared with calisthenics.
Ready to stretch, strengthen, and boost the health of your legs? Here are seven yoga poses and stretches to get you started.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose is one of the most recognized yoga poses, especially for beginners.
Benefits: This pose stretches your hamstrings, glutes, calves, and lower back. It also stretches several muscles in your upper body, including your shoulders and upper back.
How to do this pose:
“Warrior II is the ultimate standing pose for toning and lengthening the muscles in your legs,” said Olney.
Benefits: This strong pose energizes your legs, helps you develop better balance and stability, and stretches your hips and groin muscles.
How to do this pose:
Benefits: Triangle pose focuses on stretching and lengthening the muscles in your thighs, hips, and back. You should also feel a good stretch in your hamstrings.
How to do this pose:
Benefits: This standing pose helps strengthen your quads, glutes, ankles, and core. It also stretches your hamstrings, calves, and groin muscles.
How to do this pose:
If you want to add more challenge and variation to Half Moon Pose, Olney recommends Sugarcane Pose.
Benefits: This variation is a great way to open the hip flexors of your top leg.
How to do this pose:
Benefits: Bridge Pose can help strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. It’s also an excellent hip and chest opener.
How to do this pose:
After you work on the active poses above, Olney recommends a recovery pose.
Benefits: “Waterfall Pose helps to relieve swelling in the feet and legs and is wonderful if you suffer from varicose veins, sciatica, or any condition that causes pain in your legs when you are standing,” she explained.
How to do this pose:
Yoga — especially beginner poses and sequences, as well as restorative yoga — is usually safe for most people. That said, there are ways to make the practice safer.
Keep these tips in mind whenever you practice yoga:
Doing specific yoga poses, like the ones outlined above, may be especially helpful for improving balance, stability, strength, and flexibility in your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calf muscles.
Some poses may also help ease leg pain caused by standing.
If you’re new to yoga, be sure to start slowly. Consider working with a yoga instructor to ensure proper form and technique.
Last medically reviewed on October 12, 2020
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