Five Standing Yoga Poses to Increase Lower Body Flexibility

Flexibility in the lower body is not always the easiest to target. Tight hips, hamstrings, and beyond can be irritating in a yoga practice and even more so in day-to-day life.

When we try to stretch very tight hamstrings while seated, this can cause the pelvis to tilt as the shortened hamstrings pull at their point. This can lead to compression of the lower back without actually stretching the muscles.

Standing poses can be a great way to increase flexibility in the lower body while still maintaining alignment. Five standing yoga poses can be used safely to stretch and lengthen lower body muscles without compromising your body or the pose.


This standing balance posture opens the outer hips and inner groins and increases the external rotation of the hip joint on the raised leg.

Practice Tips

There are a few different options: 1) place the ball of the foot on the floor and your heel onto your left ankle; 2) place your entire foot onto your left leg; or 3) place your entire foot onto your upper left leg.

To stabilize your core, draw the pit of the belly toward your spine. Use the same energy to push your leg firmly into your raised leg. These forces should be in equal opposition.

Breathe into the openings in your hips and groin. Repeat the steps on the other side when you are ready.

Eka Pada Utkatasana (Standing Figure Four Pose)

This is another balancing posture that creates a deep openness in the outer hips.

Practice Tips

Cross your right ankle over the left to form a figure four shape. Keep your legs as straight as possible, and your seat should be reaching up and backward.

Switch legs when you are ready.

Natarajasana is a pose for a dancer.

This back-bending standing balance opens up the hamstrings and hip flexors as well as the back, shoulders, and back, creating more space in multiple parts of the body.

Practice Tips

Keep your gaze fixed on a single point to maintain balance. To protect your lower spine, engage your abdominal muscles and draw your knees towards each other. As you begin to bend your spine, allow your torso naturally to move towards the floor.

As you expand your chest, draw the shoulder blades towards each other. Standing on your left leg, press the floor with your left heel and lift your kneecap to activate your quadriceps. Breathe into the spaces you are creating. When you are ready, release slowly and repeat the process on the other side.

Utthita hasta padangustasana

This standing balance challenge creates deep openings at the hips, hamstrings, and groins.

Practice Tips

You can choose from a few options: 1) you can hold onto your right knee, drawing it in toward your chest; 2) you can wrap a strap around the ball of your foot; or 3) you could use your right hand to lock your big toe with your right hand. There are a few ways to do this: 1) hold your right knee and draw it toward your chest; 2) wrap a strap around the foot ball; or 3) hold your right big right toe in a yogi-toe lock.

Stand with your leg firmly planted and do your best to maintain your hips at a level. Engage your core, and keep your spine as long as possible. Reach your crown of the head and your sitting bones in opposite directions.

Avoid the tendency for the right hip to pop up towards the sky. Try to relax your right hip toward the floor while you lengthen your spine and draw your belly in. Keep a steady and slow breath. When you are ready, switch your legs.

Prasaritha padottanasana is a wide-legged standing forward fold.

This standing forward bent creates a large opening in your hamstrings without any compromise to the lower back.

Practice Tips

Your feet should be aligned. Point your toes straight ahead or “pigeon toe” your foot with your toes facing inwards and your heels facing outwards. Spread your toes out and evenly distribute your weight on all four corners.

Keep your quadriceps engaged by lifting your kneecaps. Keep your back in a neutral S shape to stretch your hamstrings when you do forward folds. This is especially important if your hammocks are tight.

Rest your hands anywhere that is comfortable. You can rest them on your legs, blocks, the floor, or even hold your waist. As you stretch, breathe deeply, keeping a neutral spine and active, strong legs. As you exit the pose, maintain a long spine.

Standing poses can help you achieve greater flexibility in your lower body, as well as strengthen the legs and core and bring balance to the body. Standing poses can be a great way of loosening up tight muscles.

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