With the warmer weather and longer days now here there’s nothing nicer than taking your exercise outdoors. One of the easiest things to do is simply let your legs take you out for a run or walk, or maybe a bike ride.
If you are out on your legs somewhere getting some exercise, it’s also easy to incorporate a bit of care and maintenance for them with some outdoor yoga. Yoga is a fantastic practice to help develop a healthy balance of strength and flexibility in your body. Doing yoga does not have to mean finding an hour or more to go to a class. In just a few minutes, before, after, or even during your run or outdoor exercise session, you can add in some poses to help look after your legs and hips.
Try following the sequence illustrated. These five poses will help work strength and flexibility through your hamstrings, hip flexors, inner and outer thighs, lower legs, knees, ankles and hips, core and back.
Benefits of yoga for anyone active on their legs.
Builds strength. Yoga works in more ways than one to build strength in your body that will help with running and other sports. Long-held poses where your muscles work against static resistance develops isometric strength. Flowing, dynamic yoga sequences help build isotonic strength. Yoga helps strengthen all your muscles, large and small, and develops stability in your joints (especially helpful for active ankles and knees). It is also very good for your core strength.
Improves flexibility. Restricted range in your muscles and lack of mobility in your joints will impact on your technique in running, walking and just about any other sport. Yoga is excellent for improving flexibility, which will enable you to find more efficient, comfortable and sustainable form. Tightness in any area can upset the important balance between strength and flexibility (or ‘stability and mobility’) in your body.
Injury prevention. If the strength and flexibility throughout your body are out of balance it will begin to move you out of healthy alignment, leading to discomfort, pain and even injury. Using yoga to keep your muscles and joints in a healthy balance will help you enjoy your sports injury-free for longer.
Develops awareness. Yoga requires you to pay close attention to your body. You learn to tune in to the signals it is sending you, which may help you identify where you can improve your technique, notice unhealthy habits that may be creeping in, and come to appreciate, respect and develop your abilities even more.
Effective recovery. Yoga can be a very effective form of ‘active recovery’, with many poses helpful to reduce tension, tightness and fatigue, leading to shorter recovery times from intense effort.
Outdoor yoga sequence for your legs and hips.
1. Pyramid pose
Pyramid pose provides a hip and hamstring stretch for the front leg, and a calf stretch for the back leg. Folding the arms behind you opens the shoulders. Lengthen your spine to work your back and core.
2. Crescent lunge
Crescent lunge builds strength in the legs, and stability in the knees and ankles. It stretches the front leg hamstrings, and is a great stretch for the hip flexors on the other side. Helps lengthen and open the front of your body, and develop balance.
3. Warrior 3 pose (aka Superman pose)
Strengthens your glutes, works your core and back, helps develop balance and body awareness. Stretches the back of the standing leg, and promotes joint stability.
4. Triangle pose
Triangle pose both stretches and strengthens the legs and hips. Stretches the front leg hamstrings and inner thigh, the back leg calf muscle. Also works your core and back, and lengthens the sides of your body.
5. Revolved triangle pose
Develops stability through the hips, and stretches the outside of the front leg, including the IT band, and the glutes. Stretches the length of the back leg. Works the core and spine, which move into a twist. ¡