Poses and exercises that require you to lift both legs at the same time can strengthen your abdomen, lower back and legs and loosen tight hips flexors. Yogis believe double leg-lifting poses can also help relieve stress and improve digestion. For most double leg-lifting poses, the higher your lift your legs, the easier the pose will be.
Full Boat Pose
Full Boat pose can help improve your balance as much as it can strengthen your core. Sit with your legs extended in front of you and your back straight. Lean back slightly, tighten your abdomen, extend your arms in front of you and lift your legs so that they form a 45-degree angle to the floor. Your arms and legs should point in the same direction and at the same angle. The tighter your abdomen, the less likely you’ll fall backward. “Yoga Journal” recommends beginning yogis hold this pose for between 10 and 20 seconds before resting, slowly building up to holding the pose for one minute.
Superman pose in yoga can help stretch and strengthen your chest, shoulders, arms, legs, core and lower back, according to Art of Living India, a foundation aimed at teaching ways of decreasing stress. To access this pose, lie on your stomach, extend your arms in front of your body and hover them about six inches off the ground. Lift your chest off the ground, press your thighs, legs and ankles together and lift your legs about six inches off the ground. Hold the pose on your inhalation and lower your legs and arms to the ground on your exhalation.
The Pilates 100 is a core- and leg-strengthening basic exercise you’ll encounter in most Pilates classes. Lie flat on the ground with your arms at your sides and your legs fully extended. Lift your arms a couple of inches above the ground and hover them there. Press your thighs, legs and feet together and lift your legs about six inches off the ground, though the higher your lift your legs, the easier this exercise will be. Do not lift your lower back off the ground at any point during this exercise. Point your toes and tighten your abdomen. Pump your arms five times while exhaling and then rest your arms on the ground for one or two breaths. Repeat this exercise until you’ve pumped your arms 100 times. Lower your legs to the ground at the end of your Pilates 100.
Pilates Double Leg Lift
A double leg lift in Pilates can help loosen tight hips and strengthen your core and your quads. Lie on your back and stack your hands under your head so that your elbows point in either direction. Press your thighs, legs and feet together and lift your legs straight up toward the ceiling. Tighten your abs, press your back and shoulders into the ground and slowly lower your legs to the ground. Hover your legs slightly above the ground, hold here for one breath and then lift straight back up. Repeat this exercise between eight and 10 times. The slower you lower and lift your legs, the harder this exercise is. To decrease the challenge, place your hands under your butt instead of under your head.
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.