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Yoga Standing Poses to Increase Balance & Strength

Yoga Standing Poses to Increase Balance & Strength
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So….do you YOGA?

It is a proven fact that a daily yoga routine can help you increase strength and stamina in all major muscle group, including vital running muscles, such the calves, quadriceps, glutes, and core.

Yoga plays a vital role in the balance and alignment of the body, while aiding in the correction of muscles imbalances leading to better overall running performance.

Enjoy this sequence of yoga poses that helps strength the major muscle groups that are essential when increasing strength and balance while aiding in protecting your body from injury.

  1. Crescent Lunge – Sanskrit: Anjaneyasana

Instructions:

Begin in Downward Facing Dog

Inhale right leg to the sky, Exhale bring right knee to chest placing right foot between palms on the ground

Take a moment to set up your lunge aligning right knee over right ankle, stay high on the toes of the left foot

Inhale lift torso reaching hands to the sky

Keep hips squared to the front of mat

Inhale lengthen spine, Exhale send hips forward to deepen into lunge

* Hold for 5-10 breaths or 30-60 seconds

* Repeat opposite side

 

Primary Focus & Benefits:

  • Stretches the legs, groin, and hip flexors
  • Strengthens and tones the thighs, hips, and glutes
  • Opens/Stretches the front torso, chest, and shoulders
  • Increases Balance and Stability
  • Increases energy and reduces fatigue

 

  1. Warrior II – Sanskrit: Virabhadrasana II

Instructions:

Begin standing neutral in Mountain Pose

Pivot left foot 90 degrees

Extend right arm forward

Step right foot forward aligning under right palm

Bend right knee forward keeping knee aligned over ankle

Keep right arm extended and extend left arm creating a T shape with the body

Keep torso aligned with legs and sides of mat (image body between two walls)

Inhale lengthen spin, Exhale deepen into lunge

Keep gaze over front palm

* Hold for 5-10 breaths or 30-60 seconds

* Repeat opposite side

 

Primary Focus & Benefits:

  • Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles
  • Stretches the groins, chest, shoulders
  • Relieves backaches
  • Therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, osteoporosis, and sciatica

 

  1. Extended Side Angle – Sanskrit: Utthita Parsvakonasana

Instructions:

Begin in Warrior II (previous pose)

Inhale lengthen spine, Exhale reach forward shifting torso forward

Bring right forearm to right thigh

Lift left palm to the sky (12 o’clock)

Find the lift engaging the core, glutes, quads and hamstrings

Option to reach right palm down towards chin (6 o’clock) or bring left biceps to left ear reaching left palm forward/overhead

* Hold for 5-10 breaths or 30-60 seconds

* Repeat opposite side

 

Primary Focus & Benefits:

  • Strengthens and stretches the legs, knees, and ankles
  • Stretches the groins, spine, waist, chest and lungs, and shoulders

 

  1. Revolved Triangle – Sanskrit: Parivrtta Trikonasana

Instructions:

Begin in Warrior II (pose instructions listed above) with right foot leading

Straighten right knee

Inhale lengthen spine, Exhale bump left hip back while reaching torso forward

Place outside of left palm against right shin or on block for support

Reach right hand to the sky

Allow the twist to come from the low spine, stacking shoulders

Keep spine/neck neutral, long and aligned

* Hold for 5-10 breaths or 30-60 seconds

* Repeat opposite side

 

Benefits:

  • Strengthens and stretches the legs
  • Stretches the hips and spine
  • Opens the chest to improve breathing
  • Relieves mild back pain
  • Improves sense of balance
  1. Warrior III – Sanskrit: Virabhadrasana III

Instructions:

Begin standing neutral in Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Shift body weight onto left leg

Inhale right knee up 90 degrees aligned with hips

Reach hands up to the sky (option to interlock fingers for steple mudra)

Inhale lengthen spine, Exhale hinge torso forward at the hips while kicking right leg back

Flex right toes towards the ground

Hips remain aligned with the ground

Hands, arms torso and right leg remain aligned creating a capital T shape with the body

* Hold for 5-10 breaths or 30-60 seconds

* Repeat opposite side

 

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the ankles and legs
  • Strengthens the shoulders and muscles of the back
  • Tones the abdomen
  • Improves balance and posture

 

  1. Chair – Sanskrit: Utkatasana

Instructions:

Begin standing neutral in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with feet directly under hip bones

Extend hands forward or reach hands to the sky

Inhale lengthen spine, Exhale tuck tailbone under while sitting back in an imaginary chair

Keep shoulders back and chest expanded open

Allow the hips to lower vs the upper body

Keep the weight shifted into the heels to protect the knees

Make sure you can see your toes

* Hold for 5-10 breaths or 30-60 seconds

* Repeat opposite side

 

Benefits:

  • Strengthens the ankles, thighs, calves, and spine
  • Stretches shoulders and chest
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs, diaphragm, and heart
  • Reduces flat feet

 

  1. Eagle – Sanskrit: Garudasana

Instructions:

Begin standing neutral in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with arms by your side

Inhale lift arms over head, Exhale wrap right arm under left grabbing opposite shoulders (advance option: wrap arms interlocking palms)

Inhale elbows in alignment with shoulders bringing right knee up and cross right leg over left placing right toes on a block or the ground

Exhale square hips with top of mat and sit down in an imaginary chair

Keep gaze fix forward

Bring the belly in while keeping the chest open

Stay connected to the breath, breathing smoothly

* Hold for 5-10 breaths or 30-60 seconds

* Repeat opposite side

Benefits:

  • Strengthens and stretches the ankles and calves
  • Stretches the thighs, hips, shoulders, and upper back
  • Improves concentration
  • Improves sense of balance

 

  1. Tree – Sanskrit:

Instructions:

Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) – Lifting the crown of the head upward lengthening the spine

Shift body weight onto left leg

Come to the toes of the right foot

Spiral right knee outward opening the hip

Bring right foot to ankle or calf of left leg (NOTE: AVOID KNEE JOINT)

Extend hands upward, Send gaze upward (bonus challenge: close eyes)

* Hold for 5-10 breaths or 30-60 seconds

* Repeat opposite side

Benefits:

  • Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles, and spine
  • Stretches the groins and inner thighs, chest and shoulders
  • Improves sense of balance
  • Relieves sciatica and reduces flat feet

 

 

  1. Extended-Hand-to-Big-Toe (variations) – Sanskrit: Utthita Hasta Padangustasana

 

Instructions:

Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) – Lifting the crown of the head upward lengthening the spine

Shift body weight onto left leg

Bring right knee up towards the chest

Wrap peace fingers around big toe of right foot (Beginners Modification: Use a small towel or yoga strap around arch of foot)

Extend right leg forward keeping shoulders back & chest lifted for a long neutral spine

BONUS: Guide right leg to the right side

* Hold for 5-10 breaths or 30-60 seconds

* Repeat opposite side

 

Primary Focus & Benefits:

  • Strengthens the legs and ankles
  • Stretches the backs of the legs
  • Improves sense of balance

 

  1. Revolved Extended Hand to Big Toe – Sanskrit: Parivrtta Hasta Padangustasana

 

Instructions:

Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) – Lifting the crown of the head upward lengthening the spine

Shift body weight onto left leg

Bring right knee up towards the chest

Place left hand on knife edge (outside) of right foot

Extend right leg forward (Beginners Modification: Use a small towel or yoga strap around arch of foot)

Extend your right arm straight behind you & revolve torso open so the navel begins to move toward your right hip

* Hold for 5-10 breaths or 30-60 seconds

* Repeat opposite side

 

Primary Focus & Benefits:

  • Strengthens the legs and ankles
  • Stretches the hamstrings & IT band
  • Improves sense of balance

 

Bonus Poses (Advanced)

  1. Lord of the Dance – Sanskrit: Natarajasana

Instructions:

Begin standing straight/neutral in Mountain Pose

Shift body weight onto left leg, bend right knee

Reach left hand upward, capture inside arch of right foot

Bring the knees together

Inhale Lengthen Spine, Exhale hinge forward from the hips while kicking right leg back

Keep left palm level with eye gaze

Keep shoulders back & chest open

* Hold for 5-10 breaths or 30-60 seconds

* Repeat opposite side

 

Primary Focus & Benefits:

  • Calms the brain
  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and thighs
  • Strengthens the thighs, knees, and ankles
  • Stretches the back of the leg, the front thigh and groin

 

  1. Standing Splits – Sanskrit: Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana

Instructions:

Begin standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Inhale lengthen spine, Exhale forward fold

Place hands on the ground or use a yoga block for support

Shift body weight onto left leg (slight bend in knee is ok)

Left right heel upwards while keeping hips squared to the ground

Focus on the energy and strength of each leg, while feeling the stretch

Beginner's Tip: Support the lifted leg by pressing the raised foot against a wall or hooking its front ankle over the top edge of a chair back
* Hold for 5-10 breaths or 30-60 seconds
* Repeat opposite side

Primary Focus & Benefits:

  • Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and thighs
  • Strengthens the thighs, knees, and ankles
  • Stretches the back of the leg, the front thigh and groin
  • Calms the brain
  • Stimulates the liver and kidney

 

No matter if you are new to yoga or an advanced yogi, it is key to remember no “body” is designed the same. Yoga is unique to you. Allow your breath to guide you into each yoga pose (asana) and remember your breath is just as important as the yoga pose and/or stretch. Focus on lengthening and evening out your inhales and exhales through the nose allowing you to transfer to smoother, calmer breathing while you practice yoga.

 

Remember to LIVE each Day with…

 

Wisdom in Your Mind

Kindness on Your Breath

And Love in Your Heart

 

Namaste!

 

Author Bio: Jennifer Butler is a Yoga Instructor, Yoga Therapist and Health Coach who focuses on the principle concept “Art of Living Yoga”; living whole and complete in mind, body and spirit. Do Yoga with Jennifer Anytime, Anywhere via Yoga Fits Me’s YouTube Channel (link: YouTube.com/c/YogaFitsMe). Connect with Jennifer on YogaFitsMe.com and Follow @YogaFitsMe on Facebook (link: facebook.com/yogafitsme), Twitter (link: twitter/yogafitsme) and Instagram (Instagram.com/yogafitsme).

 

Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before performing any NEW exercise program, especially if you should have any of the following: Knee Injury, Back Pain or Injury, Neck Problems, High Blood Pressure, Heart Issues, Pregnant.

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