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Back in 2008 the Department of Health and Human Services designated the month of September as National Yoga Month.  As we’ve all witnessed, yoga has become a huge fitness trend in the past 10 years!  New yoga styles are cropping up regularly, and yoga classes are now a standard offering at most gyms.  Those of us who’ve tried yoga can attest to its benefits to the body and the mind.  Yoga can also be very beneficial in supporting a regular strength and conditioning routine. Certain poses can stretch and lengthen muscles in ways that traditional static stretching can’t!

Many of the most popular yoga styles like Bikram (hot yoga), Power Vinyasa and Ashtanga are demanding and challenging workouts unto themselves!   If you’re already doing a hardcore well-rounded fitness routine like Athlean-XX for Women, you may not have time for full 90 minute yoga classes several times per week.  It may also not be beneficial to your body to incorporate more strength-based activity like one of these more physically demanding styles.  However, it’s not necessary to go long and hard to reap the benefits of yoga.  Performing just a few specific yoga poses following your workout and help you stretch spots you weren’t aware existed!

In celebration of National Yoga Month, here are 5 yoga poses to complement your length strength training routine.

Perform these yoga poses immediately following a legs or glutes training session to benefit from the deep stretch and lengthening action they offer.


1) Warrior 1 Pose

Warrior 1 pose builds strength in the ankles, calves and thighs and offers a stretch to the hip flexors and the front of the thighs.

Get into a lunge position with the front knee bent and the back leg straight.  Your back foot should be flat on the floor angled slightly outward (no more than 45 degrees) for correct alignment.  Next raise your arms and bring your hands together over your head stretching upward with chest forward and shoulders drawn down and back.  Gaze up toward your hands. Hold the pose for 5 to 7 long breathes and switch to the other leg.


yoga stretches2) Triangle Pose

Triangle pose stretches the hamstring, inner thigh, outer hip and obliques.

Stand with your legs about 3 feet apart with your left foot facing forward, angling your right foot out to the side 90 degrees (it should be parallel with the plane of your body).  Extend your arms out to your sides reaching in both directions with both hands, palms facing down.  Now, drive your left hip toward the left and tilt your torso toward the right bring your right hand to meet your right knee, straightening your body and lifting the left arm upward toward the ceiling.   Turn your head to gaze toward the left hand.  If you can, sink deeper into the pose by sliding your right hand down your right leg until you feel a comfortable stretch.  Hold the pose for 5 to 7 long breathes and switch to the other leg.


3) Pyramid Pose

This pose stretches the low back, calves, hamstrings and glutes.

Stand with feet staggered, right foot about two feet in front of left.  Right foot should face directly forward while left foot should be angled slightly outward, no more than 45 degrees.  With hands on hips and hips squared to the front, place your weight in the right heel and hinge forward at the hips.  Keep your back straight and be sure to keep your right leg straightened as well to get the full breadth of the stretch.  Hold the pose for 5 to 7 long breathes and switch to the other leg.


4) Pigeon Pose

Pigeon pose offers an incredibly deep stretch  for both the glutes and hip flexors.

Starting in plank pose with hands and toes on the floor, swing your right leg forward and onto the floor, bending it so that the right knee is near the right hand and the right foot is as close to the left hand as possible.  Next, bring your lower body onto the floor and place the top of the left foot flat on the floor.  You can remain here with your arms pressing away from the floor and your chest up.  Or, to deepen the stretch, come onto your elbows or bring your upper body completely to the floor.  Hold the pose for 5 to 7 long breathes and switch to the other leg.


yoga poses stretching5) Tree Pose 

This pose offers a balance challenge and a gentle stretch to the inner thigh and hip.

Start by standing with feet together and then bend your right knee to bring your right foot to press on the inside of your left thigh.  You can use your hands to bring the foot up farther on the leg if it’s comfortable.  Next, straighten your body and stand as tall as possible, raising the hands in a prayer position at your chest.  Use your muscles to push your right knee backward to deepen the stretch.  Hold the pose for 5 to 7 long breathes and switch to the other leg.


These 5 stretches will complement your leg strength routine and help you stretch the legs more deeply. Want to incorporate more yoga into your weekly routine, but need more of a stretching yoga than a cardio/strength variety?  What types of yoga are best to support a heavy training schedule?  Iyengar Yoga or Yin Yoga might be your best bet.  Iyengar Yoga focuses on specific poses, held longer, one at a time, rather than flowing quickly from one pose to the next.  Different approaches are created for each student according to his or her body employing props such as blankets, blocks and belts.  Yin Yoga involves holding stretches for minutes at a time with no strengthening or standing work involved.  The focus of yin is on stretching the deep connective tissue in the joints, which helps give greater range of motion.

Many of our ladies on Team Athlean report that just a few yoga poses per day or week help to support their Athlean-XX for Women training program.  Our workouts are just 30 minutes long, but they are challenging and incorporate all of the muscles of the body in intense circuit training sessions.  Our nutrition plan involves eating 5 – 6 healthy smaller meals per day to support your training sessions and boost your metabolism.  Join us on Team Athlean to see just how good you’ll look and feel after 90 days!

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