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Yoga Sequences

Try This Lower-Body Strength Yoga Sequence for Stable Legs

Vinyasa yoga teacher Irene Pappas shares her favorite practice for building lower-body strength and stability.

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Build a Strong Base

THE WARM-UP

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Pilates-style Bridge work

Lie on your back in prep for Bridge Pose and place a block between your thighs. Squeeze the block as you lift your hips up and then lower them back down. Repeat for 10 reps. Lift your hips back up and do small pulses without completely lowering back down for another 10 reps. Then lift up and hold for 5–10 breaths.

Glute and hip warm-up 1

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From all fours, lift one leg and bend it halfway. 

See also A Glute and Hamstring Strength Drill Yogis Really Need

Glute and hip warm-up 1

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Flex your ankle and keep your hips even while you kick your foot up for 15 reps. 

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Glute and hip warm-up 2

Pull your navel to your spine and keep the movement small to protect your lower back. 

See also This Yoga-Pilates Hybrid Sequence Will Give You the Glutes of Your Dreams

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Glute and hip warm-up 2

Next, lift your raised leg out to the side while keeping your hips and shoulders even for 10–15 reps. 

Downward-Facing Dog

Downward-Facing Dog

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High lunge, variation 1

Inhale and reach your arms overhead.

See also Stand Tall & Steady: 10 Yoga Sequences for the Legs

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High lunge, variation 2

Exhale and lower slightly and bend your back knee. Do 8-10 reps.

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Plank Pose

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Chaturanga four-limbed staff pose

Watch + learn: Chaturanga to Upward Dog

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Urdhva mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)

Learn Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

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High lunge, variation 1

Inhale and reach your arms overhead.

See also Stand Tall & Steady: 10 Yoga Sequences for the Legs

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High lunge, variation 2

Exhale and lower slightly and bend your back knee. Do 8-10 reps.

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Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III)

Hinge your weight forward into Warrior III. 

See also Step-by-step instructions on moving from High Lunge to Warrior III 

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Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III)

Tap your toes down and return to upright. Repeat 3 times.

SQUATS + LIFTS

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Shrimp Squat

From a Low Lunge, bend your back leg so that your knee and lower leg are resting on the ground. (You can rest your knee on a blanket or folded mat.) 

See also Open-Up-Gently Flow for the Hips + Chest

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Shrimp Squat

Reach your arms forward and rise to standing while balancing on one leg. (You can modify by pushing down through your back foot to lift to stand.) Repeat for 5–8 reps. 

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Pistol Squat

From a standing position, extend one leg out in front of you and slowly bend the other leg as much as you can while keeping the heel of your standing foot grounded.

See also The Pistol Squat, Deconstructed: How to Build the Strength, Flexibility, and Mobility You Need for This Pose

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Pistol Squat

At first, you can lower halfway and eventually work your way down. You can use blocks under your hands for extra grounding. Do 5-8 reps.

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Wide-angle seated forward bend

Lengthen your spine and keep your legs active. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

See also Seated Forward Bend

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Hip-flexor lift

Lift each leg for 10 pulses. Repeat 1–3 times on each leg. To modify, rise onto your fingertips and bring your hands closer to your hips. For more, come onto flat palms and move your hands farther away.

Want to up-level your flow? In Focused Vinyasa: 11 Fresh Sequences and Drills to Advance Your Practice, Irene Pappas, cofounder of Bodhi Yoga Boulder, hits pause at key teaching moments in your vinyasa to break challenging poses down into moves you can practice and master. Learn more and sign up today!

Within the past decade, many different styles of yoga and movement have influenced Irene Pappas’s practice and teaching. “I started with weightlifting, then found Rocket and Ashtanga yoga, and eventually added in gymnastics-style strength training and calisthenics,” she says. Her teaching incorporates concepts from each of these movement styles into a yogasana-based flow designed to build strength and improve mobility.

This creative sequence from Pappas includes her favorite squats and leg lifts within a vinyasa flow, but each move can also be practiced on its own. She likes to warm up with a few minutes of light cardio and a wrist routine, but she says you can also start with some Sun Salutations or even just a Downward-Facing Dog.

Watch also A Glute and Hamstring Strength Drill Yogis Really Need.

This practice is meant to be a challenge, so don’t get discouraged if you find it difficult. “You might not be able to do all of these exercises the first time you try them— I definitely couldn’t,” Pappas says. “The first step is committing your mind to doing the hard work, and the physical strength will follow!”

Watch it Follow this 20-minute practice on video at yogajournal.com/irenepappas. Then, sign up for 10 more video practices with Irene at yogajournal.com/focusedvinyasa.

About our teacher

Irene Pappas has studied Ashtanga Yoga, Rocket Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Animal Flow, and other functional movement styles. She has also studied with hand balancers, circus performers, movement artists, and contortionists to expand her understanding of the body and apply that knowledge in her practice and teaching. For more information, go to fitqueenirene.com.