Sunday, 9 October 2016
image: attractiveness/ 3
looking at legs:
Thighs are the last place where I put on weight, but I have a sister who puts weight on there, first. And I put weight on my calves fairly quickly, whereas my sister doesn't. I'm sure that everyone else has body quirks like this. Either way, our legs actually need only a bit of looking after.
The ankle exercise, 3 variations, here, also give great muscle shape to our calves. They can be used for our calves, knees, thighs, buttocks & abdominals, too. If you can do them on a step (hold onto something for balance if needed), it's actually better. As you go up onto the toes, pull up from your ankles to your waist. Pull up & tighten simultaneously. Relax the muscles as you lower the ankles. To really tighten everything, you could keep the tension on throughout, but.....you would need to do hamstring, quads, buttocks, calves & abdominal, stretches afterwards. If you are doing these on a step, finish them by dropping the ankles over the edge of the step, & holding to stretch out your calves. Even if you don't do this, do a standing forward "hang" with arms either dangling down, or arms folded, or holding onto legs, ankles or big toes, to stretch out the hamstrings. If you are not keen to do all 3 variations, just do the up on toes, then heels to floor.
Our ankles are intimately connected with balance & are a key area to keep strong as we get older, as balance can decline with age. However, as a yoga teacher, I can truthfully say that almost everyone when they first comes to yoga, has bad balance. Standing on 1 leg at a time, for a short period at first, then for maybe 20-30 seconds each, is the way to learn to balance. There are tricks to doing it: do not do it when you are hassled in any way; push the standing foot firmly into the floor if you can; & gaze at one point as you go into the balance, & as you hold it. I know that there are people who balance on one leg whilst brushing their teeth, or similar, but that is too frenetic for me. Balance poses are supposed to induce calm......
The standing poses of yoga, including leg balances, are excellent for shaping, strengthening, & lengthening leg muscles, as is downward dog/mountain. Hold each pose 3 breaths each if you are doing them everyday, or 5-10 breaths if doing them a couple of times a week.
To be honest, the best legs that I ever saw in my life, were from 2 women who each did squats each day. One did 20 squats with feet hip width apart & facing forwards (for thighs & buttocks), & also did 20 squats with feet further apart & toes turned out - like little plies (for thigh, inner thighs, buttocks) & if you push into the feet to come back up, the buttocks are more firmed. They were done fairly fast, with either no weights, or baked bean cans. Easy peasy.
The other woman was a yoga teacher. She also walked, a lot. In her class we did so many different types of squats, to start the class. We did each one far less times than the previous lady, & of course in yoga, one moves a bit slower. The yoga teacher used other poses also. Of course. But mostly squats. When we do the up & down on the toes, and the squats already described, it greatly magnifies the effects if we also visualise our legs & buttocks being in perfect shape. This amplifies the body-mind connection, & is very effective.
There are excellent reasons to do squats, & I personally prefer them to the big wide legged standing yoga poses such as triangle, warriors. Next we shall look at why.
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