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Build Strong Legs With These 10 Yoga Poses

Many yoga poses require strong legs. Standing postures and balancing postures, where you might feel the most sensation in your legs, also help build stronger bones while increasing strength and flexibility.

The physical yoga practice harnesses the body’s ability to cope with external stress and flexibility to build more resilience in the body.

This resilience shows itself in many different ways including: strong and flexible muscles, unshakable balance, and mobile joints, not to mention the emotional resilience that comes with effort.

This is especially the case for the part of the body with the longest bones and largest muscles: the legs.

You don’t need to deadlift or squat in order to have capable, strong legs. Many yoga practices, even gentle ones, help to build leg strength.

8 Yoga Poses That Double as Strength Training Exercises
 
 

Build Stable, Strong Legs With These 10 Yoga Poses:

Here are some familiar postures that help you build strong legs.
 

1. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

chair
Chair Pose is very similar to the common squat at the gym. It works the same muscles: quadriceps and glutes.

Let’s try it:

  • From standing, raise your arms and bend your knees
  • Imagine your tailbone drawing toward your heels to lengthen your low back
  • Look down and make sure you can see your big toes, and shift your weight into your heels
  • Roll your shoulders back while reaching your arms up, with your biceps by your ears
  • As you breathe, consider the power of your legs to propel you through life

 

 
 

2. Drinking Bird (Utkatasana Variation)

drinking bird
This variation of Chair Pose offers a unique opportunity to engage your calf muscles.

Let’s try it:

  • From Chair Pose, rock onto your toes as you lower your arms to your side
  • Find a solid drishti (gaze at one point)
  • Keep active through your hands and arms and keep your knees in line with your ankles
  • Breathe here and feel how even your little toe can help strengthen the biggest muscles of your body

 
What Is a Drishti and How Can It Improve Your Balance In Yoga?
 

3. High Lunge (Alanasana)

high lunge
This posture is great for building strong legs because in the front leg, this pose creates a lot of strength in the glutes and quads. Meanwhile, in the back leg, length is encouraged throughout the leg and in the front of the hip.

Let’s try it:

  • From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot between your hands (you can use your hand to help bring your foot forward)
  • Come high on your back toes, with your heel just above the ball of your foot
  • Once you feel sturdy in your feet, inhale and stand with your arms reaching overhead
  • Press through your back heel to engage your back leg and bend deeply into your front knee to feel your front leg fire up
  • Hold for a few deep breaths before repeating on the other side

 

4. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

bridge
Your glutes and quads will love this pose with the added bonus of light tricep strengthening, too!

Let’s try it:

  • From laying on your back, bend your knees to bring your feet to the floor, close to your seat
  • As you press into your feet, lift your hips and press into your hands
  • Roll your shoulders back to keep pressure away from your head and neck
  • Squeeze your core and imagine squeezing a block between your knees
  • Bridges form connections so notice all of the connections you can feel in this pose

 
Learn How to Practice 5 Beginner Backbend Poses Safely (Yoga Tutorial)
 

5. Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)

wheel
There is often a misconception that Wheel Pose is all about flexibility. But in actuality, Wheel Pose requires strength throughout the whole body – strong arms, a strong core, and especially strong legs!

Let’s try it:

  • From laying on your back, bring your hands next to your ears, with your fingertips pointing toward your shoulders
  • Bend your knees and press your feet firmly into the ground, roughly hip-width distance apart
  • On an exhale, feel your whole body work as you press into your hands and feet to lift your hips
  • Roll your shoulders away from your ears and actively resist the ground with your hands and feet. Instead of gravity pushing you down, feel yourself holding up the world

 

6. Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana III)

warrior 3
Not only is the standing leg working through the wobbles of Warrior III, but the lifted leg is engaged through the hamstrings and glutes, creating incredibly strong legs.

Let’s try it:

  • From standing, inhale and lift your arms overhead
  • Find a stable point to lock your gaze
  • Root down through your right foot
  • As you exhale, keep a straight line from your fingers to your left heel and begin to tilt your body forward as you lengthen your left foot back
  • Kick through your left heel and reach with your fingers
  • Feel the support in your standing leg from your big toe and the length in your whole body from fingers to toes
  • Hold for a few deep breaths before repeating on the other side

 

7. Side Lunge (Skandasana)

side lunge
While lengthening the straight leg, this pose is essentially a one-legged squat with all of the benefits of a squat and the intensity of any single-leg work. In other words, it definitely helps to build strong legs.

Let’s try it:

  • From Warrior II, bring your hands to your heart center
  • As you exhale, bend into your back knee and straighten your front leg
  • Squat down as deeply as possible while keeping your back foot grounded through your heel
  • Option to lift your front toes or ground them
  • Press your elbow into your back leg to open your heart and stand taller through your spine
  • Breathe here and notice where you’re supported
  • Hold for a few deep breaths before repeating on the other side
    •  

      8. Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

      eagle
      Part of what keeps Eagle Pose so sturdy is the squeezing toward the midline throughout the whole body.

      Your legs house the biggest muscle groups in your body and, usually, big muscles are made for short bursts of massive energy.

      When you squeeze your legs toward center in a static, or long-held, posture, you are making these big muscles work extra hard and, therefore, creating stable, strong legs.

      Let’s try it:

      • From standing, bring your right leg over your left and bend your standing knee
      • Cross your right arm under your left arm until your hands touch (or grab opposite shoulders)
      • Inhale and lift your elbows off of your chest
      • Exhale and press into your standing leg
      • As your legs squeeze together to build your foundation, focus on your gaze
      • Hold for a few deep breaths before repeating on the other side

       

       
       

      9. Extended Hand-to-Big Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana)

      Big toe pose
      The focus for strong legs in this pose is the standing leg. Every muscle – from the ankle to the hips and core – is working to keep you in a sturdy, upright position.

      Let’s try it:

      • From standing, bring your right knee in toward your chest
      • Find a focal point to gaze at
      • Grab either underneath your right knee with your right hand or find a toe-lock around your right big toe
      • Inhale and stack your shoulders over your hips and press into your standing foot
      • Open your left arm toward the left, with your fingers wide
      • Begin to extend your right leg as much as possible (it never has to become completely straight – a bend in your knee is okay!)
      • Open your right leg to the right while keeping your torso facing forward
      • If you can, shift your gaze to your left fingertips
      • Imagine a string pulling you up toward the ceiling through the top of your head as you press into the ground
      • Hold for a few deep breaths before repeating on the other side

       

      10. Dancer’s Pose (Natarajasana)

      dancer
      There’s effort to balance in your standing leg and kicking from your lifted leg, so nearly every muscle in your strong legs are at work in this posture.

      Let’s try it:

      • From standing, bring your right heel to your seat
      • Reach up with your left hand and find your inner right foot with your right hand (with your thumb facing up)
      • Kick into your right hand with your right foot, drawing your inner legs together
      • Let your kick propel your torso forward with your left hand still reaching up
      • Gaze in front of your left hand and feel both legs resisting either the ground or your hand
      • Grace comes from strength, can you feel both in this pose?
      • Hold for a few deep breaths before repeating on the other side

       
       

      Yoga Is a Powerful Tool to Build Strong Legs

      As we flow through our Vinyasa practice, we move from pose to pose by following the breath. By focusing our attention on the breath, we not only remain in the present moment, but also provide our bodies with the tools it needs to build muscles and repair damage to our physical body.

      It might not seem like we’re doing much “body building” while we flow, but asana provides the perfect environment to build strong muscles (and, particularly, strong legs!) with very minimal long-term stress to the body.

      From stress relief to inner-connection, healing physically or healing energetically, yoga asana has so many benefits.

      If you’re looking to make your legs stronger, adding a yoga practice to your leg-day routine may help your legs grow as well as bring you many of the benefits of mindful movement. Here’s to strong legs, strong bodies, and strong minds!

      This article has been read 2K+ times. Feelin’ the love!

      Comments

      wonderful comments!

Teresa Adele

Teresa is a 200hr RYT, writer, and a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. As a teacher and coach, she focuses on self-love, body positivity, and embracing challenges. She loves writing about the science behind holistic healing modalities, creative sequencing, and making whole-body wellness more accessible for everybody.

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