Try This Yoga Flow to Stretch and Strengthen Your Legs
Yoga is what you make of it. You can chill in child's pose and do some leisurely twists to relax after a long day, or you can tackle a series of balancing poses to test your leg and core strength and neuromuscular coordination.
The target of this Vinyasa flow from LA-based yogi Claire Grieve is to both stretch and strengthen your legs with a series of poses that will demand endurance and flexibility from your lower half. Bonus: It also helps align your spine, says Grieve.
Follow along with Grieve in the video above or work through each of the moves below. You'll do the flow once on each side. For a longer yoga workout, repeat on each side one more time or hold each pose for more breaths. (If this sounds too tricky, try this beginner yoga flow instead.)
Yoga Flow to Stretch and Strengthen Your Legs
Chair pose: Start standing in mountain pose. Inhale and raise arms up to the sky, shoulders relaxed away from ears. Exhale, and bend knees to lower hips down as if sitting in a chair. Shift weight into heels while lengthening the lower back and lifting through the chest.
Forward fold: From chair pose, exhale and slowly fold forward over legs at the hips. Keep back flat until you can't bend any further and then relax into the forward fold.
Chaturanga with leg extended: From forward fold, place palms flat on the floor in front of feet. Step the left foot back about a foot away from hands. Then kick the right leg up to the back corner of the room, using momentum to hop the other foot off the floor, landing in plank and immediately bending elbows to lower into Chaturanga with right leg still extended. Inhale to roll over toes into upward facing dog, pressing arms straight with chest lifted and legs and hips hovering off the floor.
Downward dog: From upward facing dog, exhale and roll over toes and draw hips up and back into downward dog. Lengthen the spine, press heels toward the ground, and relax the head and neck.
Triangle pose: From downward dog, extend the left leg back and up while keeping hips square. Step the foot forward between hands and come up into warrior II (front leg bent in a lunge, back leg straight with toes pointing to the right, and arms extended to the front and back of the mat). Straighten the front leg, opening your hips and torso to the side. Extend and reach the left arm forward to place it on the left shin, a yoga block, or the ground. Reach the right arm to the sky and look up toward fingertips.
Half moon pose: From triangle pose, gaze forward on the mat and place left fingertips on the floor or a yoga block a few inches in front of the left foot. Lift and extend the right leg in line with hip, straighten the standing leg, and flex the right foot. Open your hips, torso, and shoulders to the right side, keeping spine aligned while reaching the right arm up to the sky. If possible, gaze up towards fingertips.
Standing split: From half moon, place fingertips on the floor on either side of the front foot. Extend the back leg to the sky as high as possible while keeping hips square to the front of the mat. Relax the head toward the floor or shin.
Standing split squats: From standing split, bend both knees to cross right knee behind left ankle, lowering hips toward the floor. Extend the right leg and straighten the left to return to standing split. Repeat 5 times. (Related: Is It Bad to Do Yoga Inversions On Your Period?)
Tree pose: From standing split, step right foot next to left, coming into forward fold. Slowly roll up to mountain pose. Ground the right foot and place the left foot on the inner left thigh above the knee, toes pointed down. Place hands in prayer pose at heart center. Lengthen tailbone to the floor while extending energy through the crown of the head.
Dancer pose: From tree pose, grab the inside of the left shin or foot with the left hand. Slowly extend the left leg behind you, lifting your chest and heart to the ceiling then forward, kicking back through the left foot. Reach the right arm forward to balance the position. (Focus on a point in front of you to help you balance.) Slowly reverse the position to return to mountain pose. Then repeat the flow on the other side. (Next up: The Yoga Flow Every Weightlifter Should Add to Her Routine)