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Leg Day Isn't Done Without These Yoga Poses

Leg Day Isn't Done Without These Yoga Poses

Friends don't let friends skip leg day. Best friends don't let friends skip stretching on leg day. Don't worry, we won't let you get away with not stretching before hitting the showers!

"I wish I could touch my toes."

"My knees start to hurt when I'm running."

"It hurts if I sit cross-legged for a long time."

If you've ever heard someone announcing one of these things, or noticed you yourself uttering something similar, it might be time to revisit your stretching routine. Especially if you're giving equal time to leg day as you are to the rest of your training routine. Give yourself time to hold a few of these postures before you call it a day:

1. Reclined Hand to Big Toe Pose

yoga for leg healing

You might recognise this pose more for it's standing counterpart, but by doing this stretch on your back you isolate the muscles being used or lengthened, and you're able to stay in the stretch a bit longer, letting the hamstrings and glutes release a bit more. Starting on the back, bend the left knee and place the sole of the left foot on the floor. Hug the right knee into the chest. If you feel a good stretch here, stay there and breathe slowly and evenly. Otherwise, develop the pose through the next steps until you find your comfortable edge:

  • Lengthen the left foot forward to the front of the room, pressing the back of the leg into the floor.
  • Grab a yoga strap (or an old belt) and loop it around the right foot, lengthening the leg towards the ceiling. Move towards a 90 degree angle between the legs and release the shoulders and head onto the floor.
  • Keeping the shoulders and head released to the floor, work the hands up the belt towards the foot, and perhaps grab the big toe with the peace fingers. Press the hand into the foot, and the foot into the hand, pressing the back of the left leg into the mat.
Hold this for five breaths.

Variation — Side to Side

From here, keep the grip you have on the right leg release the leg out to the side for five deep breaths, squaring the hips towards the ceiling to open the inside of the hip. After that, bring the leg to center and grab the right leg with the other hand. Keep squaring the hips and allow the leg to fall across the body, moving into the IT band. Five more breaths here. Don't forget to do both sides!

2. Lizard Pose

Lizard Pose yoga for men

Starting from a high lunge position with the right foot forward, drop the back knee down and untuck the toes. Walk the right foot out to the side so that both hands reach the floor. If your body is asking for it drop down to the elbows either on a block or straight down to the ground. Take five deep breaths here, with every inhale inviting more length into the spine. While you're down there flick through the list of lizard species you're aware of and pick which one you identify with most. Hell, let me know in the comments if you find one you're passionate about.

Variation — Find the Twist

If you've dropped down to the elbows, inhale back up the hands. Pad the back knee if there's any sensitivity there, and then reach the right hand back to grab the big toe side of the foot. Inhale lengthen through the spine and exhale twist a bit deeper for five breaths. Then switch sides.

3. Stretching Through the Feet

stretch your feet yoga Although this one sounds simple, don't discount it straight away. From sitting on the heels, tuck the toes under the body and feel the stretch moving through the achilles and the bottom of the foot. Stay there between 10 and 20 breaths — depending on the level of stretch you experience. Afterwards, press the tops of the feet down into the mat once more and begin leaning backwards. Keep moving backwards until you find a stretch through the shins, or lift the knees equally off the ground. Hold the posture for 10 to 20 breaths and gently move out of the pose.

4. Janu Sirsāsana

260517_josh4 Come to seated and release the left foot long in front of you. Bend the right leg and press the sole of the foot into the thigh, letting the knee fall out to the side — think a seated version of Tree Pose. Inhale to reach towards the ceiling and twist the torso slightly over the leg. Exhale reach forward towards the foot (maybe using your strap or belt) finding a forward fold here. Once again inhale lengthen through the spine and exhale fall a bit further for five breaths. Make sure you take both sides. Add this on to the end of your training session for the next few weeks and notice how different the body feels when getting into those deep squats or leg presses!