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5 Yoga Poses to Increase Leg Flexibility

Leg flexibility is one of those things I get tons of questions about. I think it’s because most of us spend a large portion of our days sitting which deactivates the glutes, tightens the hamstrings, and makes our hips ache.

Stretching out and finding more leg flexibility seems like the right answer– and it is! I mean, it’s actually the second best “right” answer behind getting up and walking around more throughout the day, but we’ll start here 😉

Here’s a few poses you can do to increase leg flexibility, especially when you practice them regularly.

Enjoy!

1. Alternate bent knee to straight leg SLOWLY for 10 reps. 
Start by drawing the knee in towards the chest & bending the knee to about 90 degrees. Then gently kick the heel straight up towards the sky.
I’m using a strap in this picture, but you absolutely do NOT need one. You can just kick 10x SLOWLY while holding on to the back of the thigh.
NOTE: Why do we kick instead of just holding a static stretch? When we add movement rather than hold still, we build a bit of heat in the muscle which makes the tissue more pliable and receptive to lengthening. This type of stretching can reduce the risk of injury because the muscles are already warm. It doesn’t mean that those long holds are useless or harmful, it’s just that we need both to gain functional mobility.

2. Figure 4.
Definitely one of my favorites for increasing flexibility! Cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Keep the top foot flexed and the back and shoulders down on the floor. Don’t try to lift your head up. If the knee starts to hurt, back off the intensity by letting go of the legs and letting the bottom foot rest on the floor.5 yoga poses to increase leg flexibility3. Supine Hamstring stretch.
Oh hey, does this look familiar? 😉 Like I said, both active AND static types of stretching are important, so now we’re going to hold that static stretch for 8-10 breaths per side. You can use a strap or towel to draw the leg down close to you, but make sure if you start to shake and tremble, you back off the intensity. You should feel muscular tension to the point of mild discomfort, but you should not feel pain or tingling sensations.
4 & 5. Flow between a high lunge & pyramid 8-10x.
Using the same logic as we did earlier, this encourages the muscles to warm up which makes them more receptive to lengthening.

In your high lunge, keep the hips low while reaching the chest slightly forward. The fingertips can stay on the ground for support. Engage the quads in the back leg to draw the knee away from the floor– you should feel some extra lengthening in the hip flexors of the back leg here.  To flow into pyramid, sit the hips up and back as you straighten the legs. Keep the feet in roughly the same position, just flex the front toes so they pop up off the floor. Keep reaching the chest forward to keep some length in the spine, and keep the hips square. Flow between the two for 8-10 reps. 
Over to you! Did you give these a try? How do you feel after? The biggest results in flexibility come from consistent effort. If you spent 5-8 minutes a few days a week doing this sequence, I can almost guarantee you’ll feel WAY more mobile in a few weeks time– if not before. So don’t discount the old adage: a little truly does go a LONG way.

10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Juliet Griffin

    July 8, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    Fabulous. I really needed this. I LOVE the fact that you explain exactly how to do each pose and how not to over-strain yourself. Thank you Erin!

    1. Avatar

      Erin Motz

      July 10, 2019 at 5:21 am

      so glad to hear that, juliet! thank you!

  2. Avatar

    Teresa Starkey

    July 8, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Ready for my run!

  3. Avatar

    Carrie

    July 8, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    Love this – it’s perfect for reducing tension in my legs after my lower-body workout today. And those looser hamstrings will definitely help my back out, too! <3

  4. Avatar

    Valeria

    July 9, 2019 at 1:57 am

    Can we get the same result using blocks on the pyramid pose ? Cause if I don’t I can’t keep my front leg stretched, my knee starts to bend. 🙁

    1. Avatar

      Erin Motz

      July 9, 2019 at 4:03 am

      absolutely! using blocks won’t remove any of the benefits, they just allow you to meet the pose wherever you are. keep it up! it’ll get easier in time 🙂

  5. Avatar

    Charlie

    July 9, 2019 at 3:27 am

    Wow! I’m so tight – i had to use a block in each hand to ever have a chance of making the last one flow between the two poses as I had to shift so much and cannot put my hands on the floor for triangle. Will definitely be adding this to my regular schedule so hopefully it’ll get easier!

    1. Avatar

      Erin Motz

      July 10, 2019 at 5:21 am

      it’ll definitely get easier in time! 🙂

  6. Avatar

    Vanessa

    August 26, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    I have a question about the figure four. I don’t feel much of a stretch with my foot on the floor but I have a hard time grabbing my thigh without my head and shoulders coming up. I end up grabbing the foot that’s on my knee and lightly pulling. Is that the best way to modify?

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