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  • Leg Strengthening Exercises Using Body Weight, Friction and Pressure

    Leg strengthening exercises. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Yoga poses can be used as leg strengthening exercises in several different ways.

    Seated Leg Strengthening Exercises for Hamstrings and Glutes

    Seated yoga poses with one or both legs straight (and either forward or to the side) can be used to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes.

    While bent forwards start with your hands on the floor. Press the heel of the straight leg(s) down into the floor so that the back of your leg activates. So that your leg muscles have more weight to work against lift your hands. Put your hands down and then relax your leg. Repeat a few times, synchronizing with your breath.

    Leg strengthening exercises for the hamstrings and glutes, pressing your legs down while doing a seated forward bend. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Leg strengthening exercises for the hamstrings and glutes, pressing your legs down while doing a seated forward bend. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    To add more weight to the pose so that your glutes and hamstrings have to work harder, reach your hands forwards after lifting them.

    Leg strengthening exercises for the hamstrings and glutes, pressing your legs down while doing a seated forward bend and lifting your arms. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Leg strengthening exercises for the hamstrings and glutes, pressing your legs down while doing a seated forward bend and reaching your arms forwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Then bring your hands back, put them down, and relax.

    Do all actions slowly and smoothly.

    Rather than suddenly reaching your hands forwards, slowly reach them. That way you can stop if you need to.

    But you also gradually increase the load on your leg reducing the risk of injury.

    So that you get better at feeling and controlling your leg muscles, repeat the exercise while synchronizing with your breath. Inhale as you press down and then reach. Exhale as you put your hands down and relax.

    One reason for synching your breath with these movements is so that you remember to breathe.

    Leg Strengthening for the Outer Glutes

    To strengthen the outer hips in bound angle pose, press the feet down into the floor. Again do it repeatedly and focus on slow and smooth activations and relaxations.

    Leg strengthening exercises for the outer glutes: pressing your feet into the floor in bound angle pose. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Leg strengthening exercises for the outer glutes: pressing your feet into the floor in bound angle pose. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Strengthening Exercise for the Inner Thighs

    In a pose like half split you can strengthen your inner thigh by pressing the foot of the straight knee strongly into the floor.

    Leg strengthening exercises for the inner thighs: pressing the foot into the floor in half side split. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    You can start of with a simple version of this pose, hips over the bent knee, hands on your hips, activate and relax.

    Leg strengthening exercises for the inner thighs: pressing the foot into the floor in half side split. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    After a few repetitions then separate your legs wider with your hands on the floor. Slowly press the foot down into the floor so that your inner thigh activates, and then slowly relax. Repeat.

    Leg Strengthening Exercise for the Glutes

    Another leg strengthening exercise that can work wonders on your glutes is bridge pose.

    With hips lifted focus on pressing your feet strongly into the floor to press your hips higher. Keep your hips lifted and then relax your feet. Repeat a few times.

    Leg strengthening exercises for the glutes: pushing your feet into the floor to lift your pelvis higher in bridge pose.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Leg strengthening exercises for the glutes: pushing your feet into the floor to lift your pelvis higher in bridge pose.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    An option is to press down strongly through the shoulders. Then press down strongly through one foot and then lift the other foot.

    Leg strengthening exercises for the glutes: pushing one foot into the floor and lifting the other foot while in bridge pose.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    You can then reach that foot up to the ceiling. Keep exerting a strong downward pressure with your supporting foot and your shoulders.

    Leg strengthening exercises for the glutes: pushing one foot into the floor and lifting the other foot while in bridge pose. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    (You'll probably find that with a leg lifted one shoulder presses down more.)

    The Seated Get Up Leg Strengthening Exercise

    This next seated leg strengthening exercise I'll call a seated get up.

    If you have knee problems either leave this leg exercise out or do it with awareness. This can be stressful on the top knee, so use your hand to help. It can also be stressful on the bottom knee, so be careful particularly when leaning forwards.

    I'll break it down into parts here.

    Start with one leg in pigeon position (the bottom leg). Swing the other leg over it and place the foot on the floor to the outside of the bottom leg. Place you bottom leg on the floor slightly behind your to help.

    Leg Strengthening exercises, working towards standing and sitting using one leg with the seated get up.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Lean forwards inside your top knee, shifting weight to your top leg foot. Use your hand to help. Lift your hips. Lift your hand. Pause and lower. Repeat a few times then switch legs.

    Leg Strengthening exercises, working towards standing and sitting using one leg and one leg, with the seated get up.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Leg Strengthening exercises, working towards standing and sitting using one hand and one leg, with the seated get up.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Once you are comfortable with this try it without using your hand. Again, be aware of your knees. Desist if you feel they are in danger.

    Leg Strengthening exercises, lifting the hips using one leg while seated.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Next repeat the exercise but add a leg lift. Place your hands on your top leg to help support your body weight. Press your hands down strongly against your leg. Then lift your bottom leg. Lower the leg and then lower your butt back to the ground.

    Leg Strengthening exercises, lifting the hips and then the bottom leg while seated using the strength of one leg and using the hands to help.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Leg Strengthening exercises, lifting the hips and then the bottom leg while seated using the strength of one leg and using the hands to help.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Repeat a few times before switching legs or switch legs each time.

    As your supporting leg gets more stable you can try it without the help of your hands.

    Leg Strengthening exercises, lifting the hips and then the bottom leg while seated using the strength of one leg without the help of your hands.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Leg Strengthening exercises, lifting the hips and then the bottom leg while seated using the strength of one leg without the help of your hands.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    After the last rep you can simply stand up.

    Lunging Knee Touch Leg Strengthening Exercise

    One way of thinking about this next exercise is as a way of practicing switching from lunging on one side to the other. (The previous exercise is so that you can work towards standing or sitting just using the strength of your legs.)

    Shift weight to one leg, lean your torso forwards as you reach your other leg back behind you. Reach the leg as far back as possible while keeping it lifted, then touch it to lightly to the floor behind you.

    Leg strengthening exercise, reaching one leg back while standing. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Leg strengthening exercise, reaching one leg back while standing. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Next, bring your torso upright and gently lower your back knee to the floor. Just touch your knee to the floor without relaxing your front leg.

    Leg strengthening exercise, touching a knee to the floor in a lunge. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Leg strengthening exercise, touching a knee to the floor in a lunge. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Then lift the back knee. Lean forward and lift the back foot. You can either switch sides at this point or repeat on the same side.

    A variation of this exercise is to reach the foot back, keep the foot lifted and just touch the knee to the floor.

    Leg strengthening exercise, touching a knee to the floor while standing, without touching the foot to the floor. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Leg strengthening exercise, touching a knee to the floor while standing, without touching the foot to the floor. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Leg Strengthening with Friction

    A simple action for strengthening the inner and outer thighs is to friction the feet outwards and then inwards. You can do this action in standing side bend, chair pose (keep the knees from moving out or in as you friction your feet) and standing forward bend.

    More ways that you can use both friction and pressure to strengthen the legs and arms are included in the video Conscious Muscle Control: Friction and Pressure.

    Learning Conscious Muscle Control: using friction and pressure. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Learning Conscious Muscle Control of Quadriceps and Hamstrings

    Standing yoga poses like front triangle, triangle twist and triangle can be turned into leg strengthening exercises by deliberately activating either the front of the legs (quadriceps and hip flexors) or the back of the legs (hamstrings and glutes.)

    The video Conscious Muscle Control: Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors includes exercises for learning to activate and feel your quadriceps and superficial hip flexors.

    The video Conscious Muscle Control: Hamstrings and Glutes includes exercises for learning to activate and feel your hamstrings and gluteus maximus muscles.

    Learning Conscious Muscle Control: Quadriceps and Superficial Hip Flexors. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Learning Conscious Muscle Control: Hamstrings and Gluteus Maximus Muscles. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

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    Gumroad, Yoga for your shoulders, available in epub, pdf and mobi. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Gumroad, Yoga for your shoulders, available in epub, pdf and mobi. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Yoga for Strength

    Basic Stability

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    Back Strengthening Exercises

    Arm and Shoulder Strengthening Exercises and Poses

    Leg Strengthening Exercises and Poses

    Strength Based Yoga Practice

    Yoga and Weights/Kettlebells

    Learn to Activate Your
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