Warm weather is just around the corner, and you know what that means: sun, sand... and shorts. Time to tone your lower half and show off those long, lean legs of yours!
The good news is you don't have to put yourself through a bajillion squats and lunges for the look you want. In fact, all you have to do is partake in a little yoga—and who doesn't love yoga?
1. Warrior 2
"Warrior 2 is like a one-two punch in that it stretches the inner thigh muscles, while also strengthening and toning the outer hips," says Ezrin.
Step your feet apart wide and turn your right leg out, aligning the front foot to the inner arch of your back foot. While slightly angling your back leg and hip inwards, bend your front knee until your front thigh forms a square shape (knee over ankle and thigh parallel to the floor). Hold for eight to 12 long, deep breaths and repeat on the other side.
"The hardest thing we can do on our body is unfortunately the thing we do the most," says Ezrin. "Sitting for long periods wreaks havoc on the internal organ system and spine, and softens the muscles of our back body, like the hamstrings and booty."
Salabhasana pose will help you fight back by strengthening the back body. Lie on your belly and rest your arms by your sides, with your feet and legs hip-distance apart. Inhale, and as you do, lengthen your body forward from the chest and back through the legs to lift yourself up. (Lift using the backs of your legs, being careful not to overly squeeze your booty.) Hold for eight to 10 breaths, and repeat three times.
3. Warrior 3
"Warrior 3 is the perfect pose for long, lean legs," says Ezrin. "As it's a balance pose, it also helps tone the core, improving overall posture."
From a high lunge (with your right leg in front), inhale and step off your right foot, lifting your left leg behind you to hip-height. You can either place your arms on your hips or reach them out in front of you. Hold for eight to 10 breaths, and slowly return to lunge. Rest, then repeat on the other side.
This crazy-fun arm balance pose strengthens your legs and core: "You don't even need to fully fly to reap the benefits of lean inner legs and toned outer hips that result from the squeezing action essential for Bakasana," says Ezrin.
Start in a squat with your big toes together and spread your knees wide, nestling your shoulders in between your legs. Using those powerful inner thighs of yours, squeeze into the upper arms and shoulders while maintaining a long spine.
If you want to try the arm balance on for size, have your hands a foot in front of you with elbows bent to 90 degrees. Continue squeezing your inner thighs as you practice shifting your weight to your hands, keeping your booty level to your shoulders. (You know, no biggie.)
5. Viparita (Legs Up the Wall)
"Not only is this one of the best poses for long, lean legs, it's the easiest and most calming," says Ezrin. "Legs Up the Wall reduces swelling in the calves and ankles by improving circulation, which can be stunted with long periods of sitting or standing."
Get as close to the wall as you can with your side body before taking your legs up. Make sure your lower back is flat on the floor. If you find it's rounding away from the ground, try sliding further back or placing a rolled towel underneath your lower back to create a curve. Relax and enjoy for seven to 10 minutes.
What are your go-to moves for toned thighs and lean legs?
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