Our lower body is our foundation and what keeps us grounded. Though flexibility in this area of the body is great, we also need strength for stability (not to mention looking great in our yoga pants!). In this post, we’ll show you how similar, yet different, yoga and fitness moves parallel and complement one another to strengthen your quads, glutes and hamstrings and stabilize your hips, giving you a healthy, strong base to move from.
YOGA: Modified Virabhadrasana III (Warrior Three Pose). Start standing with your feet hip distance apart. Shift your weight to your right foot, pull your left knee into your chest and reach your arms overhead. On an exhale, bend your right knee as you reach your chest forward and sweep your arms behind you. Press your left heel back toward the wall behind you so that your left leg is parallel with the floor. Inhale and slowly pull your left knee back into your chest and reach your arms overhead. Repeat three to five times and change to the opposite side.
FITNESS: Bridge With Hip Thrust. This move is perfect to work the butt, hamstrings and core. Lie on your back with your feet planted, knees bent, feet hip distance apart and fingertips reaching toward your toes with your palms facing down. Press your feet down and lift your hips off the ground as you extend your right leg out in front of you. Squeeze your glutes and raise your hips up as high as you can go, then slowly lower them. Repeat five to ten times then switch to the left side. Modifications: Keep both feet firmly planted on the ground as you raise and lower your pelvis. Another option is to extend one leg out in front of you and mildly pulse the leg while keeping your pelvis lifted up in bridge.
YOGA: Utkata Konasana Variation (Goddess Pose). Separate your feet three to four feet apart, turn your toes out and bend your knees so that your thighs are parallel with the floor. Take your right elbow on top of your left and intertwine your forearms (or hold onto opposite shoulders if you have tighter shoulders). Lift your elbows so they are on the same plane as your shoulders. Press your forearms forward and round your elbows into your stomach while keeping your pelvis low, knees pressing back. Hold for three to five cycles of breath. Slowly come all the way back up and repeat with your left elbow on top of your right.
FITNESS: Squat Kick Out. Stand with your feet planted hip distance apart. Bend your knees and lower your butt behind you as if you were going to sit in a chair. Get your knees to at least a 90-degree angle, but make sure your knees don’t go past your toes. Come up to standing, kick the right leg out to the side and then bring it back down, coming back into a squat. Repeat to the left. Do ten to twelve repetitions. Modification: Simply shorten your squat and kick. You can also take out the kicks all together.
YOGA: High Lunge, Crescent Variation. From down dog, step the right foot forward between your hands with your right ankle under your right knee. Press through the left heel and reach your arms overhead into a high lunge. Inhale here and reach through your fingertips, right shin and left heel. Exhale and bend your left knee and hover the left shin over your mat. Inhale and straighten both of your legs. Exhale and bend both knees and hover your left shin. Repeat for five counts of breath and switch sides.
FITNESS: Lunge. Start with the same lunge variation as above, but increase the intensity by curling your left knee in toward your chest before stepping your left foot back, dipping your left knee down and hovering your left shin over your mat. Do five to ten repetitions on each side. You can add weights for extra resistance. Expect to see results! This lunge works all angles of the legs and really helps to create muscle tone.
About the Authors:
Laura Burkhart is a 500 E-RYT Yoga Works and Yoga Tree Teacher who also teaches online on My Yoga Works. Laura’s creatively sequenced classes are challenging, with a smooth and rhythmic flow. She is conscientious about catering to different levels and ability, ensuring that all her students feel welcome and comfortable. She is known for her warmth, fluidity, precision and smart sequencing and is attentive to the needs of her students. Laura worked as the Yoga Director at the San Francisco Bay Club’s Mind/Body Center, modeled in numerous Yoga Journal online videos, was spotlighted in Origin Magazine, and was a master class model for Yoga Journal Magazine. She has also presented at the Yoga Journal Conference, Yoga For Hope and Yoga Rocks the Park and has contributed to online blogs and articles for SELF Magazine, Yoga Journal Magazine, Refinery 29 and Yoga Tree. Find out more at LauraBurkhartYoga.com.
Jaime McFaden is the founder of Whey By J, Personal Trainer, group exercise instructor and Senior Master Trainers for Jillian Michaels BODYSHRED. Jaime has become an expert in body weight training and uses her fun, effective workouts to keep people in shape while having fun. Her exercises don’t require any equipment so she has a no excuse rule. She works with clients from age 5 – 85 so she is constantly creating workouts that can cater to nearly anyone. Jaime is also a contributor to many blogs including: The Skinny Confidential, Eat Beautiful/and fabletics. She has been featured in multiple fitness DVDs, co written the Bombshell Body Guide, has been featured as one of the top 10 trainers in Shape magazine 2014 and is currently featured in Women’s Health and Family Circle magazine.
Follow Laura and Jaime on Facebook/Instagram @WheyByJ @LauraBurkhartYoga @FireWaterFusion