How to Get Lean and Shapely Legs
By Celebrity Trainer Charlotte Dodson
You want to have the opportunity of choice – the freedom to wear whatever it is you feel like in order to look and feel A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! So, here’s a series of simple poses that you can use to tone up those upper thighs and lift your butt whilst simultaneously lengthening and toning your lower body. You’ll find and awaken muscles you didn’t realise you had, all in a good way, of course!
Before I go into this easy-to-adopt routine, please remember that yoga is your own holistic practice. This means that yoga works on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. How you view the world, see your day, and interact with others is a reflection of your own inner self. Let me give you an example: as you strengthen your body, both lower and upper, you become stronger in all situations and relationships – this balance and energy feeds into every area of your daily life. You are able to speak your true innermost thoughts with compassion, and see the world with gratitude and joyfulness. It is a calm and nourishing strength, from the inside-out.
With yoga, you are working your muscles to lift themselves out of your joints; if you feel you’re sitting in your joints or locking them up, bend them slightly, and that way you activate your muscles and allow them to flow into the pose. Keep your belly active at all times when doing the movements – in other words, tight and tucked-in.
Always be conscious of how you are breathing during these poses, as this will ensure you are getting the most out of your yoga practice.
Follow this step by step guide to keep your legs looking shapely, and keep you feeling on top of the world.
Warrior II pose (Virabhadrasana II)
Strong legs give you foundation and keep you grounded – literally! This pose works to build and develop muscle tone, especially in the lower half of your body. It’s a strong pose, so hang in there, breathe slowly and release to standing at any time. This pose give you strength and determination to follow your dreams. It builds strength in the legs, belly and upper body.
Stand at the long edge of your mat and feet one leg distant apart. Turn your right foot out to face the top of the mat and bend your right knee, making sure your right knee is directly above your ankle. Angle the back foot at 45 degrees and keep it flat on the floor. Inhale your arms overhead and out to the side, shoulder height. Stay looking forward at your front middle finger. Hold and breathe deeply for 5 breaths or longer. Repeat on the other side.
Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)
This standing warrior pose builds strength in the legs, belly and upper body whilst giving you boost of energy as you open up your lungs. Stretches hips, inner legs and groin.
From Warrior 1 – inhale to raise your right arm overhead, and exhale to slowly slide your left arm down your back leg. Keep your legs active, belly strong. Either look up at your top hand, or down to your back foot if you find your neck feels sore. Hold for 5-10 breaths. To release, inhale back to an upright position, and turn both feet inwards facing the wide edge of your mat.
Extended side angle pose (Utthita Parshvakonasana)
This can be a challenging pose, working through the different variations, and you’ll always discover and learn a new ‘feeling’ within your body on how to get deeper into the pose.
From ‘reverse warrior pose’ inhale your right arm up and over to your right thigh and raise top arm up. Keep legs and belly strong and active. As you continue to ground your left heel to the floor, exhale and lay the right side of your torso down onto (or bring it as close as possible to) the top of the right thigh. Press your right fingertips (or palm) on the floor just inside your right foot. Actively press your right arm into the inner right knee; counter this by drawing your tail bone down into the back of your pelvis, toward the pubis. The inside of your right thigh should be parallel with the long edge of your mat.
Hold and breathe deeply for 5 breaths and use your inhale to come up to lift up lightly. Repeat to the other side for the same breath lengths.
High lunge twist
Twist, turn and unravel any those problems! This pose gets into all those knots and tight areas, helping to alleviate the strain. Turn back to the top of the mat with your right foot forward and left leg back one leg distant, keeping right leg bent and left leg straight. Bring your left hand to the inside foot and raise your right arm high, and turn from your belly, chest and shoulder. Keep your chin tucked in as you look up to your top raised arm. If your neck’s tender, please look down to your base foot. Hold and breathe deeply for 10 breaths before repeating to the other side. To add a greater strength dimension to the pose, twist a little more on every exhalation to squeeze, and massage your digestive organs and activate your belly muscles. Hold this for 5-10 breaths. Remember to be kind, and not to over stay in any pose or throw yourself into any movement – use your breath and true inner strength, which builds in power the more you practice the poses.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Strongly press your hands, arms active as your lift up onto your knees, toes tuck under and lift your hips up into downward facing dog. This is like a triangle shape, with feet, hands and hips working actively. Feet are hip distant, your outer foot is inline with the outer part of the mat, and your hands are shoulder distant apart (your middle finger facing forward). Look to your navel as you keep your ears inline with your upper arms. This pose fully energises you and gives you vitality. Hold and breathe deeply into the pose for 5-10 long, mindful breaths. If this feels too strong, you can drop to your knees at any time.
Relaxation (Corpse) Pose (Savasana)
We can be so busy with life – thinking (and doing) too much at all hours of the day. Yoga is a tool to help us keep our mind still and quiet. Lay back, let go and see if you can ‘be’ in the moment by giving time for your body to relax for 5-10 minutes. This corpse pose allows your body to absorb the sequence you’ve just completed. You’ll feel rested and it will provide your whole body with an overall sense of well-being and harmony. After Savasana, roll out to the right side and come up to a cross-legged sitting posture; now you’ll feel a energetic boost as you embrace your whole day with kindness – fully alert, revitalised with lean shapely legs!
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