9 YOGA POSES FOR LONG, LEAN LEGS
By Heidi Kristoffer (Photos: Jes Allen)
Warmer weather is officially here, and soon enough, shorts season will be too. Time to get those limbs toned and taut! Here are a few yoga moves that will lengthen and strengthen your legs and have you feeling great about putting them on display.
Warrior I: Start in down dog. Step right foot forward between hands, spin left heel down with the foot slightly angled out, press into feet, and reach arms up to the ceiling, framing face. Breathe here for 5 deep breaths. Repeat on the left side.
Warrior II: From down dog, step right foot forward between hands, spin left heel down with foot slightly angled out, and “windmill” arms open, left arm reaching toward the back of the mat and right arm reaching to the front of the mat. Bend right knee, keeping it in line with right ankle. Stay here for 5 deep breaths. Repeat on other side.
Triangle: From warrior II, lengthen right leg so both legs are straight. Lean torso forward over front leg, keeping both sides of torso long. Rest right hand on shin or, if you feel comfortable, bring fingertips to the ground. Lean back, open shoulders, and extend left arm up above shoulders. Stay here for 5 long, deep breaths. Repeat on other side.
Warrior III: From a standing forward bend, walk hands under shoulders, placing them on the floor (or on blocks if the floor feels too far away). Transfer weight to left foot, bend left knee slightly, and float right leg high behind you. Reach through right heel and internally rotate right thigh so toes point toward the ground. If you feel steady, lift hands off the ground and put them together at center of chest. Stay here for 5 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Half Moon: From warrior III, plant right fingertips down under right shoulder, open left hip on top of right, and turn torso to the left. Extend left arm straight up and look up toward left fingers. Stay here for 5 long, deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Revolved Hand to Foot: Stand, hug left knee to chest, and grab outer left foot with right hand. Reach left arm toward the back of the mat and slowly extend left leg as long as is comfortable forward to the front of the mat. Stay here for 5 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Half Chair-Half Ankle to Knee: From standing, bend knees, sinking hips back and reaching arms high. Cross right ankle over left knee (flexing right foot to protect knee) and breathe for 5 deep breaths. Repeat standing on right leg.
Eagle: From a standing, hug right knee to chest. Bend left knee and cross right leg around left leg, hooking right foot on either side of left leg. Wrap right arm under left arm. Sit down as low as you can and lift up through arms to stay balanced, reaching elbows and fingertips up and away from face. Stay here for 5 long, deep breaths. Unwind and repeat on other side.
Wheel: Lie on back with knees bent and feet on the ground hip-width apart. Bend elbows and place hands on either side of head shoulder-width apart with fingers pointing toward shoulders. Pressing into feet and hands equally, lift hips and lengthen arms. Keep pressing into feet through big toes and reach chest away from feet as you stay here for 5 deep breaths. (Be sure to tuck your chin to your chest before you slowly come down).