These Yoga Poses Will Keep Your Legs Long And Lean All Summer Long
The benefits of yoga abound, from teaching us how to breathe to allowing us to stretch our bodies in all of the ways it craves. But one of our favorite aspects of the mindful practice is how well it creates long and lean muscles as we build strength day by day. (It’s partially why we just want to live in yoga leggings all day, every day.)
And with summer just around the corner, there are certain yoga postures you can lean into that will help you get ready to wear even the shortest pair of shorts with the utmost confidence and comfort. The poses below are some of our favorites for not only getting some serious stretching in, but also making those legs as long and lean as they can be. Integrate them into your next home yoga practice and see how much of a difference they can make for you.
Warrior II Pose
Turning to face the side of your yoga mat, widen your stance to approximately 4 feet. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and turn your left foot slightly toward the right. Extend your arms so that they are parallel to your mat at shoulder height. As you exhale, bend your right knee and sink down into the pose until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Shift your gaze over the middle finger of your right hand, holding the pose with an equal balance of strength and ease. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side.
Turning to face the side of your yoga mat, widen your stance to approximately 4 feet. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and turn your left foot slightly toward the right. Extend your arms so that they are parallel to your mat at shoulder height. As you exhale, reach your torso over your right leg, keeping your left foot firmly planted on the mat. When you can’t reach any further, bend from the hip joint to bring your right hand toward your right ankle and your left hand up toward the ceiling. Shift your gaze toward your left hand and maintain the rotation in your torso as if you were stuck between two panes of glass. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side.
Standing at the front of your mat, step your right foot back approximately four feet. Turn your right foot outward slightly for balance and square your hips to the front of your mat. Bring your hands to your hips or lace them behind your back in a prayer position, and slowly hinge forward from the hips, feeling an intense stretch in your left hamstring. Only fold forward as far as your flexibility will allow. From there, you can leave your hands behind your back for the chest-opening benefits or reach your hands toward your mat for additional balance assistance. Return to the starting position and switch sides.
Stand in the center of your yoga mat. Shift your weight to your left foot as you bend your right knee and bring the heel of your right foot toward your hamstring. Keeping your palm facing outward, grab your right foot with your right hand. Bring your knees together and adjust your hips so that they are even with one another. Reach your left arm up toward the ceiling with your palm facing outward. Kick your right foot into your right hand to start bringing your leg back, up and away from your body. As you kick and stretch, bring your upper body forward so that, eventually, as your right leg reaches toward the sky, your torso is parallel with the floor. Breathe here. Then return to the starting position and switch sides.
From a high plank position, lift your right foot and bring it forward so that it’s in between both of your palms on your mat. Feel the stretch in the front of your lift hip. From here, drop your right knee down to your mat and untuck the toes on your right foot so that the top of your foot is pressed into your mat. Carefully bring your torso to an upright position. Reach your arms over your head, bringing your palms together, and gently arch your upper body back, creating a backbend in the low lunge position, opening the front side of your body as well as your left hip. Slowly return to the starting position and switch sides.
Start in a table-top position with your knees directly beneath your hips and your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Press your palms and fingers into the floor, tuck your toes and lift your hips up toward the ceiling. As you straighten your legs, reach your heels down toward the floor (it’s okay if they don’t touch). Keep your thighs engaged, your hips reaching upward and your shoulders externally rotated as you breathe. You can pedal your feet out one at a time as well if that more intense, targeted stretch feels good. When you’re ready, return to the starting position to rest.