Work on these poses for lean, mean gams.
Improving core and upper body strength is par for the road as you go deeper into your yoga practice. But don’t forget the legs too. These poses not only help you maintain your balance with grace and strength – they have the bonus effect of sliming down those gams too.
The foundation of most hatha or vinyasa class includes sun salutations, stretches and some variation of a warrior pose. Warrior 1 and 2 look easy, but they tone your thighs and hamstrings, especially when held for a longer period of time. Warrior 3 might be a tougher transition because all your weight is on one leg and it requires balance. As you lock your knees to maintain stability, you rely solely on the thighs and hamstrings to hold the weight.
(Also read: 10 Lunge Variations For Longer And Leaner Legs)
The classic chair pose (or a squat) is as common in the yoga studio as it is in barre studios and at the gym. The move is one of the surest ways to tone the butt and thighs, and is simple enough for everyone to follow. Beginners to exercise can start by doing the chair pose with the butt against the wall while pushing the weight onto the legs. Once comfortable, leave the wall and imaging sitting on an invisible chair. Move the weight to your heels to protect the knees and maximise thigh and hamstring burn. Still too easy? Lift those heels and stand on tippy toes. Keep your legs squeezed tougher throughout.
(Also read: The Right Way to Do Squat Exercises)
This is a tough core exercise that also works the legs. If tight hamstrings prevent your legs from straightening, it’s acceptable to bend your knees. Lift your legs, squeeze tight and hold for 30 to 45 seconds. Make sure there’s no tension or strain in the back as you activate your core.
(Also read: Exercise Away Those Thunder Thighs!)
Sounds odd, but this pose is called the celibate’s pose because it engages the bandha (body lock) and is believed to conserve sexual energy. Well, it certainly doesn’t conserve other forms of energy because your whole body will have to be tight and your mind fully focused to hold this pose. It requires arm strength as your arms support the whole body, core strength to lift the lower body up, but also a lot of leg strength to lift the legs. People underestimate the weight of their legs, forgetting that the lower body is usually heavier than the upper body. As a bonus, you can expect lots of laughs when you practice this (and cramp up or tumble) in a group class. This is one of the hardest yoga poses to achieve. For a step-by-step guide to ease you into the pose, watch this video.
The dancer pose is especially hard because all your weight is rested on one leg and it stretches your shoulders and arms intensely too. To perform the pose, shift your weight to your right foot while lifting your left leg backwards. Bend the left knee and point your toes towards the buttock. With your left hand, grab onto the left ankle – you may have to use straps for support at the beginning. Lift your left leg as much as you can while keeping your right arm stretched out in front of you. Advanced practitioners may go for the King Dancer’s pose, with both hands holding the left foot. Remember to breath deeply as you hold the pose and repeat on the other side.
your lifted leg, arms and upper body will be focusing on lifting up, leaving all the weight and balance to the grounded foot.
(Also read: 9 Bodyweight Exercises You Should Be Doing)