In addition to all the great health benefits of yoga, yoga also has postures that serve as excellent, effective exercises for stronger legs. Even if it is not possible to attend a formal yoga class, these postures can easily be done at home to strengthen legs, while also providing an opportunity for relaxation, meditation, and increased flexibility.
Standing yoga postures are based in the premise that the legs, feet, and toes are rooted in the ground, thus providing physical strength and stability for the posture. Standing postures typically begin from Mountain pose with feet together, firmly planted in the ground, leg muscles activated, the shoulders back and relaxed, and the chest open. During the postures, the legs are called upon to support the entire weight of the body, while also stabilizing during balancing poses. Utilize these standing postures as exercises for stronger legs.
From Mountain pose, bring the feet hip width apart while still maintaining Mountain pose principles. As the lungs exhale, bring the arms parallel to the floor with palms facing down. Simultaneously bend the knees as if sitting back in a chair. While holding the posture for about 30 seconds, focus on breathing, relaxing the shoulders, and the legs providing a strong base for the posture. Return to Mountain pose on the inhale.
From Mountain pose take a large step forward with the right leg and bend at the knee to assume a lunge position. The knee should be bent at approximately 90 degrees, but the knee should not go past the toes. On the next inhale, lift both arms to the sky with palms facing each other. Continue to breathe during the posture while focusing on keeping the front foot, ankle, knee, and leg in line. Square both hips forward. Reaching towards the sky with relaxed shoulders will keep the torso perpendicular to the floor and the chest open. Hold for about 30 seconds, carefully return to Mountain pose, and repeat with the left leg.
To perform Warrior II, first get into a sound Warrior I posture. With the right leg in a forward lunge, rotate the hips and torso to left side while lowering the arms parallel to the floor. With the lower body still in line, the hips and upper body are now square to the left. The hands, elbows, and shoulder should be in line with the eyes gazing forward over the right hand. Hold for about 30 seconds, return to Mountain pose, and repeat with the left leg.
Yoga includes a number of basic to extremely advanced standing balancing poses as well. Many think that these poses are not accessible to them, but the basic versions are a very accessible, beneficial starting point. These basic yoga exercises will challenge your balance while also strengthening your legs. While focusing on balance, the leg muscles fire to keep a strong base.
Starting from Mountain pose, shift weight to the left leg. Slowly lift the right foot off the ground and rest it against the left calf, knee, or thigh—whichever allows balance to be maintained. The right knee should be pointing as far to the right as possible. Bring the hands slowly to prayer position and focus on a point to stay balanced. Inhale and exhale deeply and slowly while focusing on form. Hold the posture for about 30 seconds. If balance is lost during the posture, don’t abandon it! Calmly return to Mountain pose and restart. Repeat with the left leg.
From Mountain, raise the arms to the sky, lift the left leg off the floor and simultaneously hinge forward. The raised arms, head, torso, and left leg should all be parallel to the floor. The right leg should provide a strong, stable base for the posture. Deeply breathe while focusing on a point to hold form and balance. Slowly return to Mountain and repeat with the right leg.
Incorporating these yoga exercises into your routine will undoubtedly result in stronger legs. Practicing regularly will propel leg strength, enabling the body to hold postures for a longer time. Start utilizing your own body weight and try yoga exercises for stronger legs!