Not only is yoga a great exercise system in itself, it can also be a great add-on to complement your fitness regime. If you are used to running or cycling, then while you can tone up thigh muscles, you can also create tightness in this area too. Yoga is a wonderful way to stretch and tone thighs and give power to other activities.
Your thigh muscles are fairly large muscles and yoga can really prime your quadriceps and hamstrings, as well as your groin and hips, so that you perform better in other types of exercise and sport, as well as in your functional movements. Stretching your inner and outer thighs can also be a great way to minimize the risk of injury, when performed before a workout. You want your muscles in this area to be strong and toned, as well as flexible.
Not only is this pose fantastic for the thighs but also your hips, abdominal muscles and your spine. Some poses, such as the Downward Facing Dog, are what are known as inversions. They are basically positions where your heart is higher than your head to bring you a whole raft of benefits, one of which is to really release and relieve physical tension. The Bridge Pose is also an inversion but it is less strenuous to perform than many others, yet still bringing an enormously beneficial stretch to your whole body, including your thighs.
Lie on your back with your arms by your side, palms down and your knees bent. Your feet should be flat on your mat, with your feet parallel. Next, bring your pelvis up, tucking your tailbone in, so that your hips move up. Keep your feet firmly pressed down and roll your shoulders in as you bring your arms together and clasp your hands, under your body.
Press your arms into the ground and make sure your knuckles are facing the heels of your feet. Keep in this position for a short time, exhaling as you move your arms out and slowly roll your spine down to the starting position. Always listen to your body and go with a lift that does not overstretch your thighs or any other part of you. This is a great way to relieve tension in tired legs, perhaps after you have been sitting for long periods of time.
A deceptively simple looking pose that can be really effective at working the upper thigh muscles. It is also beneficial to your posture and alignment. If you have tightness in your thighs and knees you will really feel the pull with this position, so go with how you feel and do not try and force the pose.
Kneel down and keep your body relaxed but the back straight, with your hands lightly resting on your thighs. Move your feet out so that they are wider than your hips, pressing the top of the feet into the ground and letting the big toes point slightly in but being aware not to bend the feet inwards.
Lean slightly forward as you manipulate your calf muscles and exhale as you sit down on your mat, between your legs and feet. Your heels and your shins should be laying alongside your thighs and hips. Straighten your back as you sink into the pose. You will feel the stretch right across your thighs and also the effect of your thigh muscles slightly moving inward.
Keep your shoulders back and sit still in the pose before putting your palms down and crossing your ankles as you exhale out of position. If you find the stretch just too much and are struggling to sit down on your mat, then add a blanket or block, so that your hips are higher than your knees and the stretch across your thighs is less intense.
As with all yoga poses, you need to make sure that you are following each pose correctly, otherwise it will not be as effective and could cause you discomfort or injury. Working with a fitness professional can really help.
Next month we will look at some inversions and find out why yoga fans love them so much! Meanwhile, get in the right position to improve your fitness and join us for a yoga session.