You will be undeniably more capable in your Yoga sessions when you tone and strengthen your legs. Just a few minutes a day will bring results.
Before practicing the Asana in your Yoga session, you must perform a full warm-up. It’s helpful to focus on particular parts of your body to develop greater strength and control in these areas, as is the case with your legs.
Why direct so much attention towards your legs? The following leg exercises actually tone and strengthen muscles in three parts of the body – the legs, the abdomen, and the lower back – all areas that are of major importance in Yoga.
By strengthening and gaining more control of these muscles, you can greatly improve your performance of many Asanas. More difficult poses such as the Headstand, the Scorpion, and the Locust demand great strength and control of these muscle groups. The stronger your legs are, the longer you can hold such positions as the Bow and the Wheel.
By practicing these leg raises on a daily basis, you will receive many benefits – the most noticeable being the strengthening of the muscles of your legs, abdomen and lower back. Having more muscle strength in your abdomen and legs will give you greater control over the movement of your lower and upper body, and allow you to hold certain Asanas for a longer duration. Adding these leg exercises to your daily Yoga session will also trim fat from the waist and thighs.
By practicing the exercise of lifting your head closer to your raised leg, you slowly stretch the ligaments of the legs, especially the hamstrings, increasing flexibility in the legs.
To get the best results from these leg raises, it is important that you work your muscles. These must be toned and strengthened; try not to compensate for weak muscles by arching your back.
You will be surprised at how much more limber you become with these simple leg strengthening exercises. You can try them at home or before your Yoga session.
- Begin by lying down on your back. Make sure that your lower back is flat against the floor, preventing any tendency to arch the back when you lift the legs. Knees and feet should be together.
- Place the hands in one of three ways, depending on which you find to be the most comfortable. Place them by your sides, palms down; or, for additional back support, place them under your buttocks, palms down; or, for a real challenge, try placing them under your head, palms up, while bending the elbows.
- Raise the first leg on an inhalation to form a 90 degree angle with your body. If this isn’t possible, lift your leg as high as you can. Keep your knees straight and the other leg flat on the ground and press down on your lower back to keep it in contact with the floor. Exhale and slowly lower the leg to the floor.
- Repeat the exercise with your left leg. Repeat raising the right and left leg two more times, pausing briefly between the leg lifts, and then come to a resting position.
- Repeat strep 3 by slowly raising one leg up as high as possible, and clasping it with both hands. If possible, interlace your fingers behind the leg, and with every exhalation, try to being the leg closer to the upper body, leaving your head flat on the floor.
- On an inhalation, grabbing a hold of the leg with both hands, slowly raise your head towards the leg. Hold this position of one or two breaths and on an exhalation, lower your head to the ground, and release and lower the leg. Repeat this exercise 2-3 times, always interchanging legs.
- The raise both legs, beginning on an inhalation, slowly together to as high as possible. Keep the knees as straight as you can and the lower back and buttocks touching the floor to avoid injury to the spine. Exhale and slowly lower the legs to the floor. Relax and repeat 10 times.
Common mistakes to avoid while performing these leg strengthening exercises are arching the back, stiffening the neck and shoulders, and bending the knees while lifting the legs off the ground.