Yoga Sequences for Beginners – Leg Pain Relief

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Painful, overworked legs?

Inflexible, stiff legs?

This yoga sequence for beginners is designed for anyone (inflexible and flexible alike) who may have pain in their legs from working out, working, or general stiffness.

The poses in this yoga sequence are practiced lying down. Please grab the following yoga props before getting started:
Yoga Strap (OR a belt, tie, or dog leash)
Yoga Bolster (OR a couple bed pillows)
Optional – Scented Eye Pillow

As you practice these exercises, remember to BREATHE.

Focus on how your body feels, and always back out of the stretch if it becomes too intense!

Scroll down for written instructions for each pose or try the video below for a short practice!

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1. Knees to Chest Pose – Apanasana

~Laying on your back, bring both your knees in towards your chest and loosely hold your knees or the back of your thighs.

~Take some deep breaths and let the tension release from your legs.

~Spend two full breaths mindfully wiggling your toes and spreading them wide.

~Then, start to point and flex your feet for a couple breaths.

~Slowly circle your ankles in one direction and then the other.

~When this feels complete, bring your feet back to the floor.

Benefits: This pose helps to release your lower back, while bringing gentle movement to your feet and ankle joints.

2. Open Your Hips

~Bring one knee into your chest and start to move that knee side to side. You can pause and breathe where you feel any “sticky” spots in your hips.

~Hold your knee with your hand and start to make circles – beginning with small circles and working your way up to larger circles.

~Take your time and stay here as long as you want. Repeat on the other side when this feels complete to you.

Benefits: This pose brings gentle movements to your hip sockets and prepares your hips for the next pose.
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3. Leg Stretches with a Strap

~Grab a yoga strap or a DIY strap – a belt, a tie or a dog leash.

~Wrap the strap around the ball of your right foot and raise your leg to a comfortable place. It can be straight up towards the ceiling, or the knee can be bent.

~Experiment with pointing and flexing your foot. As you press your heel towards the ceiling, you’ll feel more of stretch on your hamstrings. When you find your edge (the point where the stretch becomes intense), bend the knee just a little to “back off” from the edge. Now use your exhales to relax the tension in your leg for 5 full breaths.

~On the last exhale, let your leg begin to slowly drop to the right. MAKE SURE that your whole buttocks stays on the ground. Again, 5 full breaths, letting gravity help your hip to open and see if you notice a stretch in your inner thigh.

~On an inhale, bring your leg back up to center, then as you exhale, let that leg cross over the body, again keeping your whole buttocks on the ground. You might feel a stretch now on the outside of your thigh – the IT Band. Stay here for 5 breaths.

~Inhaling, bring your leg back up and remove the strap from your foot. Let your leg relax long on the ground, rocking it side to side and taking a moment to notice the effects of the stretch and the difference between both legs.

~Repeat with the other leg.

Benefits: The 1st part of this pose stretches your hamstrings, the 2nd part opens the inner thigh muscles, and the 3rd part stretches the IT band on the outside thigh. Laying down and relaxing your leg muscles allows gravity to gently help increase your stretch and your overall flexibility.

4. Reclined Pigeon Pose

~Bend your knees and bring your feet to the floor.

~Cross your right ankle over your left knee.

~Reach your right hand through the triangle between your legs, and hold the back of your thigh, pulling the left leg in towards your belly.

~Notice where you feel your edge, then back off just a little and hold for 5 breaths.

~Repeat on the other side.

TO MODIFY – Wrap a strap around the back of the thigh if you are unable to reach comfortably with your hands.

Benefits: This pose stretches your piriformis, a small muscle deep in your buttocks that runs from your sacrum to your thigh bone. Stretching the piriformis can help improve sciatica, ease knee and ankle pain, and also help with the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.

5. Resting Pose – Savasana

~Grab your bolster (or pillows) and put it under your knees. Make sure your lower back is comfortable.

~Lay back and relax all of your muscles. Feel the floor supporting you.

~Either close your eyes, or if you’re feeling decadent today…. Place your scented eye pillow over your eyes.

~Your arms can lay on the floor next to you or you can place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Feel your breath moving through your body or moving your hands up and down. Concentrate on that feeling or maybe repeat a mantra to yourself as you relax.

~Stay here for at least 5 minutes. Feel free to stay in this pose for as long as you like without falling asleep. If you feel like this might happen, bend your arms so that your fingers point to the sky, and as your arms fall, you will wake up.

Benefits: This pose allows your muscles to “turn off”. Hopefully, as you lay quietly focusing on your breath or your mantra, your mind will also have an opportunity to turn off and reset. In this place of stillness, your body can begin the healing to ease your leg pain.

15 comments

  1. This will be an additional poses that I will add on my routine. As I have posted yoga poses on my website that is helping me relieve my back pain. as well.
    I will definitely try this one too.

    1. Hi Gillian, I’m so glad these can be added to your routine. Our bodies are completely interconnected, so even though the pain is localized in your back, stretching your legs can bring some relief to your back as well. Please let me know how these stretches work for you moving forward!

  2. Hi! This is a lovely selection of stretches, with detailed explanations. I wonder if you could include a print out so that people don’t have to keep refreshing their screen, or even better a video?!
    I have always enjoyed yoga, well done for spreading the word!

  3. Great article!

    I especially like how simple these stretches are and how effective they can be. I try my best to do these types of stretches everyday when i get home from work. I usually run during my lunch break and don’t have much time to stretch after. I will definately be using these stretches!

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. I do crossfit and yoga helps me a lot with my tight muscles. I love these poses ! Will have to do it more regularly. Very helpful Post.

    1. Hi Dini, Yoga is a great way to balance a strong practice like CrossFit! I’m so glad you like these poses – I hope they help you with your tight muscles!

  5. I have wanted to start doing yoga for various reasons. I guess what has held me back was the fact that it would be difficult to do the stretching stuff and that my balance is horrible. These exercises are ones I do now. So this make me really want to get started with yoga. It is supposed to help with balance right?

    1. From all the Instagram pics of super flexible yogis, yoga has become a little intimidating for some people. What I hope to convey to people in my writing is that the mind/body connection and effort is more important than the actual pose. Practicing balance poses in yoga will certainly help you!

  6. Thanks for these simple exercises, and especially for including such helpful illustrations. Question: would you recommend modifying any of these (or avoiding them altogether) if one has had lower spinal surgery?

    1. Hi Desa, You are so welcome! If someone has had lower spinal surgery recently, I would recommend they ask their doctor before trying any of these. If their body is healed and feeling good, I would recommend going SUPER slow and really being mindful of any pain or discomfort. Exercise #3 could be modified to only taking the leg straight up, not out to the side or crossing it over the body.

  7. I’m a desk jockey and lift free weights, a combination that very easily leads to inflexible lower body muscles and stiff hips. I especially have problems with the iliopsoas from all the sitting. This leads to mild lordosis and lower back pain. I’ve learned my lesson and stretch my legs and glutes every day and I’ll be definitely trying these poses on my routine! Thanks for the tips.

    1. Hi Jukka, you are so welcome! I’m glad that you will be able to use these poses in your stretching routine! Please check back in and let me know how these work for you!

  8. Hello Andrea,
    Thanks for such a great article. These exercises/poses are so ‘up my alley’. I couldn’t have found them at a better time. I was doing some research on how to relax tired legs and you showed up in my search. Thanks.
    I work all day on my legs and sometimes I am able to ‘take a load off’, but not for long. SO, needless to say, when I get home, my legs are ‘putty’.
    I will definitely try some of these poses. I think I will fall in love with the last one…something tells me that not only will it relax my legs, but also me…lol
    Great job and thnx again,
    Michelle

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