Yoga For the Legs and Hips
For most of us, our daily lives don’t leave a lot of room for proper stretching. The average American spends 6.5 hours sitting per day. This shortens the hip muscles significantly, leading to tight hips and lower back pain. Even when you do a quick 10-minute warm up before your workout, you can still end up with stiff muscles at the end of the day. What’s more, tightness in the hips and legs can lower your range of motion, making it more likely that you will injure yourself. Yoga is a great way to counteract this, as most poses focus on strengthening and lengthening your legs, glutes, and hip muscles. Do these exercises each morning or evening for the best results.
This is an easy pose for beginners to do on their own. First, line the side of your hip up to a wall. Slowly, you will raise both of your legs, swinging them in an arch motion up the wall until they are parallel with it. Lay flat on your back, or if you need support have a rolled-up towel or blanket under your neck or lower back. Hold the pose for 5-15 minutes.
Downward Facing Dog
Get on the floor on your hands and knees. Lift your knees off the mat so that you are on the balls of your feet. Align your shoulders with your wrists and your ankles with your hips. Lift your pelvis to the ceiling. Try to keep your legs straight, you can peddle your feet once you feel comfortable. Keep your head between your upper arms, don't let it hang. Hold the pose for 1-3 minutes.
Revolved Triangle Pose
With feet four feet apart, shift your front foot to a 60-degree angle and the back foot to a 90-degree angle. Raise your arms so that they are parallel with the ground, palms out. Slowly twist your torso so that one of your fingertips is touching the ground. Simultaneously, straighten your front leg while pushing your hip bone backward, putting resistance on your back leg. Hold for 30 seconds or 1 minute.
Lie on the floor with your arms at your sides. Your knees should be up with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Lift your buttocks off of the floor, placing pressure on your shoulder blades and feet. Feet should be parallel with your ankles. Lift your chin away from your chest. Create a straight line from your chest to your knees and squeeze your glutes. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.
Big Toe Pose
Stand with your feet parallel and hip-distance apart, arms at your sides. Bend forward from the hip joint, keeping your legs straight. Wrap your index and middle finger around each big toe. Fold further forward and aim to draw your forehead toward your shins. Keep your head and spine relaxed. Hold the pose for one minute.
Bound Ankle Pose
Sit with your legs out in front of you. Slowly start to bring your heels in towards your pelvis. Drop your knees out to the sides. The heels of your feet should be pressed together. Grasp your toes or ankles with your hands and lean forward. Hold the pose anywhere from 1-5 minutes.