Power -- or Ashtanga -- yoga is an intense style of yoga based on a series of flowing, heat-building poses to build strength and flexibility. According to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater website, power yoga involves synchronizing the breath with these poses, referred to as vinyasas, to increase perspiration, which helps detoxify the body and improve circulation. You can perform specific power yoga poses to help trim and tone your thighs and promote increased leg strength.
Stand with your feet parallel to each other, big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Firm your core and thigh muscles. Relax your shoulders. Align your head and neck with your spine. Inhale and on your exhale, bend your knees, bringing your buttocks as close to parallel with the floor as possible. You should feel like you're about to sit down in an imaginary chair. Raise your arms over your head. Do not allow your knees to extend over your toes. Hold this pose for several breaths, then inhale and return to standing. Repeat the pose three times, synchronizing your movements with your breath.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, feet facing forward. Broaden your chest and shoulders. Align your head, neck and spine. Contract your core muscles to increase your stability. Inhale, and as you exhale, step your right foot about 4 feet in front of your left foot. Bend your right knee, coming into a lunge position. Inhale and raise your arms straight over your head, keeping your palms parallel. Do not raise your shoulders during this movement -- keep your shoulders relaxed. Keep your right foot facing forward and rotate your left foot out to the side, bringing it perpendicular to your right foot. Press your left heel into the ground. Look up at your palms. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, then inhale and return to a standing position. Repeat on your left leg.
Standing Triangle Straddle Bends
Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart, with your left foot pointing forward and your right foot pointing to the right. Align your head, neck and spine and tighten your core muscles. Relax your arms by your sides. Expand your chest without arching your back. Inhale and raise your left arm over your head, keeping the arm close to your ear. Rest your right hand on your right thigh. Engage your thigh muscles and on your exhale, bend over to your right. Slide your right hand down your right leg, bringing it to rest on your shin. Hold this pose for 15 seconds, then inhale and return to your starting position. Repeat three times.
Stand with your feet 3 feet apart. Rotate your feet so your heels are facing each other and your toes are pointing away from each other. Exhale and bend your knees. Squat down to bring your thighs parallel with the floor. Engage your core and thigh muscles for stability. Keep your knees in line with your ankles -- do not allow the knees to extend past your toes. Raise your arms straight out at your sides, then bend your elbows, fingers pointing up. Expand your chest. Hold this pose for several breaths, then inhale and return to a standing position.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.