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Get killer legs with yoga! Here's how!

Last updated on: April 17, 2014 21:09 IST

Get killer legs with yoga! Here's how!

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Shameem Akthar

There's nothing quite like a pair of super-sexy, toned legs, is there? Shameem Akthar shows you five yoga poses that can help you get the legs you've always dreamed of!

All the hottest legs in the world -- whether they belong to Deepika Padukone or Madonna -- can be tracked back to yoga practice. 

Yoga is by far the best way to tone up the legs without injuring yourself, as you can with other such activity.

The sister practices -- like Pilates -- have borrowed heavily from yoga. So it does not matter what you do -- including martial arts like Muay Thai.

Ultimately, it all comes back to the basics of yoga. This explains why yoga is the favourite activity of the world’s most beautiful people.

For yoga to work, you must practice daily. At first, attempt the poses for a short duration. But the time for each pose, if held static, must be regularly increased.

If doing the pose dynamically, the number of repeats in a pose must also rise dramatically. To tone up the legs, the muscles in the legs must be pushed to the point of fatigue. Lackadaisical practice will not serve here.

All poses are also very safe for the knees. This cannot be said of most other activities.

So, the trick is to work the pose in both methods -- statically and dynamically -- so different textures of muscle fibres are developed. This will help firm the skin.

At least 20 minutes of the entire yoga practice must be dedicated to just leg raises, as listed below.

You also need to keep adding new variations after six weeks, to ensure the muscles do not get “bored”, in which case they will hit a plateau and refuse to tone up!

Propping up this work-out with a sensible diet is essential.

Good fats help the skin remain firm, especially important when body fat is being discarded. Otherwise, you can develop ugly stretch marks and the skin may sag.

It is equally important to include a rich dose of antioxidants. This helps repair the skin that is being affected by the weight loss.

Proteins are as important to complete this repair work.

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre offers five basic leg raises from yoga, to sculpt your legs.

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Image: Simple yoga poses can get you the legs you always wanted says Shameem Akthar.
Photographs: Rediff Archives

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Supta hasta padasana (Lying leg pose)

  • Lie on your back. Extend both legs.
  • Lift the right leg. Inhale. Hold it with both hands as shown. Above the knee is ideal.
  • Flare the elbows lightly outwards. Exhaling, draw the leg down, as much as you can without bending the knee too much. Keep the other leg straight on the floor, especially at the knee. Hold for 15 seconds initially.
  • Continue normal breathing. Exhaling, drop the right leg back down.
  • Repeat for the left leg. Relax the neck and back. Do thrice.
  • After constant practice, extend the final pose duration to a minute for each leg.

Avoid: Raising the head up if you have a neck problem. You can do the pose with the head down.

Supta hasta padasana

Benefits: Superb tone to the legs, especially the back of the leg.

Heals and controls all knee-related problems.

Controls insomnia.

Is used as therapy in many chronic ailments, including heart related problems and spinal disorders.

 

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Image: Supta hasta padasana (inset) for sexy, toned legs like Kareena Kapoor
Photographs: Still from Tashan; Shameem Akthar (inset)
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Poorna Naukasan (Full boat pose)

  • Sit with both legs extended. Hold the legs lightly at the knees, bending them slightly.
  • Lift feet off the ground, maintaining balance on your hips. See if you can hold this pose for a while with comfort.
  • Then straighten both legs out. Continue holding the legs, higher than the knees. Flare the elbows lightly outwards or hold the big toes, or the feet, straightening the legs gently. 
  • Hold final position for a few seconds, but build up stamina to a minute or more. Breathe normally throughout.
  • To advance in practice, draw the head and legs towards each other. This pose has greater impact and may be acquired with regular practice of the basics as explained above.

Poorna Naukasan

Avoid: If having any problem with the tailbone or the lower back.

Benefits: Tones the legs, especially the softer and difficult to control areas of the thigh, and the upper legs.

Removes depression.

Controls digestive problems, and diabetes.

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Image: Poorna Naukasan (inset) for sexy, toned legs like Deepika Padukone
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar; Shameem Akthar (inset)

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Ardha Padma Ekapadanaukasana (Half lotus, half boat pose)

  • Bend right leg at the knee.
  • Place right ankle into the left hip joint, as shown.
  • Bend the left leg lightly at the knee. Hold it over the knee with both hands. Firm the hold of the hands at the leg, and slowly flaring the elbows outwards walk the hands up the left leg, simultaneously straightening the leg as shown.
  • It should be straight out. Stay for a few seconds to ensure balance. Then inhale, exhale, move the head into the leg as shown.
  • This stage may require a few weeks of practice in the basic pose. Hold for 30 seconds or so. Release the leg.
  • Repeat for the other leg. Breathe normally throughout.

Ardha Padma Ekapadanaukasana

Avoid: If you have severe lower back problem.

Benefits: Same as Poorna Naukasan

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Image: Ardha Padma Ekapadanaukasana (inset) for sexy, toned legs like Priyanka Chopra
Photographs: Still from Exotic; Shameem Akthar (inset)

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Padachakrasana (Leg rotation, seated version, with both legs)

  • Sit with both legs extended out.
  • Fold legs at the knees. Inhaling, lift the legs straight up, as shown. Exhaling, rotate the legs in a circle in front. Try to keep both feet lightly touching from inside.
  • Complete the rotation, by bringing the feet as close to the ground, but not touching it. It should be a complete circular rotation.
  • Do five times forwards, then five times in the opposite, backwards direction.
  • After a few weeks, increase the number of rotations.
  • Ensure you are breathing throughout. Keep the rotation as complete and perfect as possible to ensure that the toning effect is assured.

Avoid: If having severe lower back problems.

Padachakrasana

Benefits: Tones the lower part of the body, from hips on, challenging all the muscle groups.

Improves nervous co-ordination of the legs, which may initially shake a lot in the first few attempts.

Tones the abdomen and ups your energy levels by building stamina.

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Image: Padachakrasana (inset) for sexy, toned legs like Bipasha Basu
Photographs: Cover of MW; Shameem Akthar (inset)

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Padachakrasana (Leg rotation, seated version with single leg)

Padachakrasana as shown on the previous slide, but do the rotation with one leg only, raising it high, and rotating forwards and backwards equal number of times. Do for both legs.

Padachakrasana

Contraindications: As above.

Benefits: As above, with true challenge to all muscle groups in the legs. Additionally, helps align the left and right brain hemispheres.


Image: Padachakrasana (inset) for sexy, toned legs like Lisa Haydon
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com; Shameem Akthar (inset)

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