Think yoga’s “too easy”? Or just for granola crunching hippies?

If you believe yoga’s all about “blissing out” and getting in touch with your navel, then you’ve gotta try our series of Shapeshifter Yoga Challenge Poses.

We’ll start with an easy one, just so we don’t scare ya off… <insert innocent whistling here>

Raised Leg Pose is a relatively simple movement, but when you slow it down it takes on a whole new level of difficulty.

It’s normally performed with the natural breath. Inhale and lift one leg as high as possible while keeping your abdominal muscles engaged, the passive leg in contact with the floor, and the active leg completely straight. Exhale and lower

Doesn’t seem too difficult, right?  What’s so hard about lying on your back and lifting up your leg?

The challenge is to perform the same movement slowly over multiple breaths. Give this variation a shot and you won’t believe how heavy your leg can feel!

  1. Begin lying on your back with your body in line and with your palms turned down.
  2. Your right leg should be passive, holding no tension, and the entire leg should rest against the floor. Engage your abdominal muscles throughout the movement.
  3. If you notice any pain or discomfort in your lower back, modify the position by bending your right leg (ie. the passive leg in this example).

Raised Leg Pose Start Position (Full)

Raised Leg Pose Start Position (Modified)

  1. On an inhalation, begin to lift your leg slowly, counting to 10 as you reach the farthest end of your range of motion. The leg should be straight throughout the movement. If your knee begins to bend, then that’s as high as you can go at this time.
  2. Breathe naturally as you lift your leg.

Leg Lift Beginning Stage (Full)

Leg Lift Beginning Stage (Modified)

Leg Lift Final Stage (Full

Raised Leg Final Position (Modified)

  1. Pause at the top of the movement.
  2. On an exhalation, begin to slowly lower the leg to a count of 10, keeping your abdominals active as you return to the starting position.
  3. Breathe naturally while lowering your leg.

Although the movement is primarily meant to strengthen the abdominal muscles and organs, you’ll also feel a profound stretch in the hamstring muscles of the lifted leg.

When you’ve mastered the movement on a 10 count, increase your count to 15 and really feel the challenge!

Gravity really kicks in while performing this movement. I think you’ll agree that your leg never felt heavier.

Give it a try and let us know how you did in the comments below!

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