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Yoga Stretches for the Legs

by
author image Lorraine Shea
Lorraine Shea writes about yoga, fitness, nutrition, healing, philosophy, art, decorating and travel for magazines and websites including Fit Yoga, Pilates Style and Country Accents. She teaches Anusara-style yoga and specializes in breath technique, active relaxation and therapeutics. She has a B.A. in English from New York University.
Yoga Stretches for the Legs
Yoga Stretches for the Legs Photo Credit Lexi Cooper/Demand Media

Yoga helps strengthen, stretch and tone your legs. Many poses stretch and strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles. Pay attention to your feet in your poses. Your weight should be distributed evenly on both the inner and outer parts of feet. Lift and spread your toes to engage your leg muscles.

Forward Bends

Yoga Stretches for the Legs
Photo Credit Lexi Cooper/Demand Media

Standing Forward Bend lengthens your hamstrings and calf muscles. If your leg muscles feel extra-tight in this pose, bend your knees slightly. For a deeper calf stretch, place a rolled sticky mat or rug under the balls of your feet and keep your heels on the floor.

The Wide-Legged Forward Bend also works the muscles in your feet and ankles. Be sure to keep your feet firmly grounded.

Lunges

Yoga Stretches for the Legs
Photo Credit Lexi Cooper/Demand Media

Lunges stretch your quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles and strengthen your legs overall. From Forward Bend, step your leg back and bend your front knee so your thigh is parallel to the floor. Keep your back leg lifted.

For an added quad stretch, lower your back knee to the floor -- fold over your mat for extra padding -- lift your back shin and hold your foot with your hand.

For an added hamstring stretch, keep your back knee on the floor and stretch your front leg out straight, place your heel on the floor and flex your foot.

Repeat all three variations on the opposite side.

Chair Pose

Yoga Stretches for the Legs
Photo Credit Lexi Cooper/Demand Media

Chair pose works your hamstrings, quadriceps and back calf muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus. From a standing position, reach your seat back and down so your thighs are parallel to the floor. Engage your core muscles to stabilize your spine and keep your chest lifted. Raise your arms overhead but relax your shoulders. Make sure your knees reach toward your middle toes, so you're turning neither in nor out.

Downward Dog

Yoga Stretches for the Legs
Photo Credit Lexi Cooper/Demand Media

Downward Dog pose is an effective overall stretch for your gluteal muscles and the backs of your legs. Bend your knees, reach your inner thighs back and scoop your tailbone as you slowly straighten your legs. Press firmly into the balls of your feet and reach your heels back and down to work your calf muscles and hamstrings. Your heels most likely will not touch the floor. Lift one leg up into Downward Dog split, keeping your opposite foot firmly pressed into the floor. Repeat on the other side.

Legs Up the Wall Pose

Yoga Stretches for the Legs
Photo Credit Lexi Cooper/Demand Media

The restorative Legs-up-the-Wall pose gives your legs a rest and a gentle stretch as it supplies your organs with fresh blood, circulates lymph fluid, calms your mind, regulates blood pressure and relaxes your body. Sit on a bolster or folded blanket and swing your legs straight up the wall. Lie back and stretch your arms out to your sides. Hold for at least 5 minutes. This is a useful pose for tired legs, especially if they're swollen.

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