Along with ‘strength’ and your ‘lower body workout’. How do you tone up those upper thighs and give a “lift” to your butt as you continue to sculpt your shape and get ready for summer? Here’s how! This series of simple poses will work your legs and buttocks, whilst simultaneously lengthening and toning them. 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 defined and shapely, which will keep you feeling on top of the world.
When working this next sequence, bring your full awareness into your feet (heels and toes) to activate your legs, and feel completely in the moment, and grounded.
Mighty pose (Utkatasana)
This pose really works your upper thighs and buttocks! Strong legs give you foundation and keep you grounded – literally! This ‘chair’ 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.
Start by coming to the top of your mat. Bring your feet and knees together. As you exhale bend your knees, tuck your tailbone down and raise your arms up over your head with palms together. Open your arms out wide if your shoulders need more space. Breathe deeply for 5-10 breaths. Release to standing and repeat another 3 times.
Lift to your toes
From ‘chair pose’, above, try lifting your heels and come up onto your toes. Press firmly into the front balls of your feet, and keep your ankle bones touching to activate your inner leg muscles. Look to one point directly ahead, as this will help you hold your concentration and balance. Hold the pose without moving – be as still as possible, with your palms together in front of your chest, shoulders down. Breathe fully for 5-10 breaths, before placing your heels back onto the floor and straightening your legs. Repeat 2 more times.
Do you get frustrated at times? A pose to enhance patience and perserverence is known as the horse stance. It’s a real test of your inner strength, especially if you hold it for long periods of time.
Start with your feet one leg distant apart. Bend your knees and roll your inner thigh muscles outwards. Keep your torso upright and long, tuck your chin down into your throat and press your palms together at the centre of your chest. Breathe deeply as you hold the pose. Set yourself a goal time or number of breaths, e.g. 10 breaths, and hold for the full duration. To release come back to standing and shake your legs out.
As the saying goes, you’ve got to strive for what you want! This pose will work all those leg muscles you forgot you had! Please remember to breathe deeply and not to hold your breath. It can be a challenging posture, especially if you hold for longer than 5 breaths.
These standing and strengthening poses give you the determination and edge to go for what your heart truly desires. As you hold these poses and control your breathing, remind yourself to always follow your dreams and bring them to reality!
Start by standing at the top of your mat, with your feet together. Lunge your left leg back, one leg distant and pressing into the balls of your foot. Keep your hips square to the top of the mat with your back leg straight and front knee bent. Raise your arms up overhead with palms touching, shoulders down. Gaze to one point to help with your balance. Breathe deeply for 5 breaths or more before changing sides.
This is an advanced pose, so don’t worry too much if you stay with the easier variation and build from there when you’re ready. Take the challenge to be brave and say what you feel, especially with those everyday situations that can be a little confronting at times. Balancing Warrior is a posture that gives you willpower and strength to face ‘those’ moments in a positive way. This is a strong pose, so follow the variations step by step and stay at the level that works best for you.
Level 1: Stand at the top of your mat, bend down to touch your fingertips to the floor, slightly ahead of your feet. Activate your legs as you step your left leg back, one leg distant, toes on the floor. Option to stay here.
Level 2: Keeping your fingers lightly on the floor, raise your left leg off the floor, hips square to the top of your mat. Keep your front leg knee bent if your back is tender.
Level 3: As you firmly press down into your base foot and leg, lift your fingers away from the ground and swing your arms back by your side into a balancing warrior. Keep your chin tucking into your throat, shoulders roll outwards.
Hold the pose as gracefully as you can, breathing deeply for 5 breaths, before repeating on the other leg.
Rest pose (Savasana)
You’ll see this pose crop up after most of your yoga sequences. It’s crucial to give yourself time out to rest, especially after strength and body work. Always give yourself plenty of space and room as you lay onto your back. Palms face upwards, feet roll out to the side and close your eyes. Rock your head from side to side a few times to release your neck and come back to centre. If your lower back feels sore place a cushion under your knees. It’s time to relax into a peaceful mindset, as this will give you much more focus and awareness – the keys to accessing true strength. Lay back in ‘savasana’ for at least 5 minutes before going about the rest of your day. Namaste, Charlotte x