5 Yoga Poses to Strengthen Your Legs, Hips and Back

yoga poses

Yoga exercises are calming and can strengthen the muscles in your legs, hips and back. You can practice several yoga poses in one session.

A beginner’s yoga pose, Extended Mountain opens the chest and lungs and improves respiratory function. It also provides a challenging balance challenge and stretches the legs, arms and torso.

Child’s Pose

This gentle yoga posture is often used at the beginning or end of a class to calm and center the mind and body. It is also an excellent pose to use after backbends or other strenuous poses, as it allows your body to take a rest.

The lowering of the forehead to the floor and folding of the body over the knees has many physical benefits for your health. The act of putting your head down stimulates the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, triggering hormone production that lowers the heart rate.

Child’s Pose also helps to stretch the hips and thighs through targeted compression and extension. It is a good restorative pose for those with low back and neck pain, as it can be used to relieve tension from these areas. Adding a bolster between your knees can add to the comfort of the pose. You can also slide your hands behind you along the thighs or up alongside your torso to increase the challenge of this pose.

Extended Mountain

Mountain Pose or Tadasana is the base or foundation of many yoga poses. It helps improve posture, balance and alignment. It also strengthens thighs, knees and ankles. It stretches the sides of the body, back muscles and shoulders and tones the chest and abdomen. It also improves breath and circulation.

Those with a back or shoulder injury or surgery should not do this pose. It should also be avoided if you have high blood pressure or a heart condition.

The main difficulty in this pose is maintaining the posture and balance. You must engage the hip muscles (gluteus) and abdominal muscles to help stabilize your pelvis and core. It’s important to avoid pushing the front of your hips forward as this will flatten your lumbar spine and throw off the balance of your body. The adductors of the back leg should resist stretch to help with stability. This posture is great for beginners as it builds foundational strength and provides a platform to progress into more advanced poses.

Downward-Facing Dog

Downward-Facing Dog (Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana) is one of the most common poses in yoga. It is a restorative and strengthening pose that stretches the hamstrings, hips, calves and arches while building strength in arms, shoulders and back. Downward-facing dog also energizes the body, promotes blood flow to the brain and calms the mind. It can be a mild inversion, less strenuous than headstand or handstand, but it still creates benefits such as relieving headaches and migraines, reducing fatigue and insomnia and improving digestion.

When teaching this pose, it is important to remind students to keep a microbend in the elbows and not hyperextend their wrists. This can prevent the wrists from becoming strained over time. Using props, such as a block to support the hands in the pose can help to relieve this pressure. This also allows students to deepen their pose, maximizing the benefits. Downward-facing dog should be avoided by anyone with high blood pressure or glaucoma.

Warrior I

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana 1) is a standing pose that strengthens your legs, core, and back while stretching the front side of the body. It improves focus and balance, which can help you feel strong both on and off the mat. This pose also targets the small muscles in your feet and ankles, helping you develop stability. If you’re a beginner, you may want to add a block under your back foot to keep it pressed down if it has a tendency to move towards the big toe side of the foot.

Beginners often struggle with this pose because of its challenge to balance. Try stepping forward to your left hand or reaching your hands to the back of the mat to make it easier to engage the hips and legs strongly. Try to stay in the pose for at least five deep breaths and then repeat on the other side. This pose can be a great way to build leg strength in preparation for other advanced poses.