One of the least appreciated parts of our bodies are our ankles. No one notices the huge amount of work they do every day until we twist or sprain one. This relatively small but complex body part supports the weight of our entire body and so must remain strong and flexible to do its job properly.
Try these powerful yoga poses to build sturdy ankles and keep you moving.
- Stand in Mountain pose with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale and raise your arms toward the sky. Keep the arms parallel, palms facing each other.
- Exhale and bend your knees. Focus your weight in your heels while sitting back as if you are about to sit in a chair. Lean the torso slightly forward over the thighs. Keep the thighs parallel to each other.
- Keep your torso long. Press your shoulder blades together.
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute. Release the pose by straightening your knees with an inhalation. Exhale and release your arms to your sides.
Extended Side Angle Pose
- Stand in Mountain Pose. Exhale and step or lightly jump your feet 3.5 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach your fingertips to the sides. Press your shoulder blades apart. Face your palms to the floor. Turn your left foot in 30 degrees to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the heels. Make your thighs strong. Press your right thigh outward. Press the left hip slightly forward, toward the front. Press your upper torso back to the left.
- Exhale and bend your right knee to 90 degrees. Bring the right thigh parallel to the floor.
- Firm your shoulder blades back and down. Extend your left arm straight up toward the sky while turning the left palm to face toward your head. Inhale and reach the arm over your left ear, palm facing the floor. Stretch and lengthen the entire left side of your body. Fix your gaze on the left arm. Create length along both sides of your torso.
- Ground your left heel to the floor and aim to lay the right side of your torso down onto the top of the right thigh. Press your right fingertips or palm on the floor just outside of your right foot. Press the right knee back against the inner arm. Breathe easily.
- Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length
- Stand in Mountain pose. Step your left foot back about 4 feet apart from your right foot. Turn your left foot in 45-60 degrees and turn your right foot out 90 degrees pointing forward.
- Align your right heel with the left heel. Exhale, bending your right knee to 90 degrees, rotate your torso toward your bent thigh and square your pelvis forward as much as possible.
- Raise your arms parallel to the floor and push your shoulders back and down. Lift our chest and keep your gaze over your right fingertips. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat on the other side.
- Kneel on your mat. If needed for the calves and thighs, use a folded blanket or bolster for support. Touch your knees together then slide your feet apart. Press the tops of the feet on the floor. Breathe easily.
- Exhale and sit back halfway. Use your thumbs to draw the skin and flesh of the calf muscles long. Slowly sit down between your feet.
- Aim to rest your buttocks comfortably on the floor. Sit on a block if your sit bones do not reach the floor. Allow a thumb’s-width space between the inner heels and the outer hips. Press your thigh bones into the floor with your palms. Then lay your hands gently in your lap, palms up or down.
- Sit up with your spine long and straight. Press your shoulder blades back and down and lift your chest. Press the shoulders down and away from the ears. Anchor the tailbone into the floor.
- Hold the pose from 30 seconds to one minute. Gradually extend your stay up to 5 minutes. To come out of the pose, press your hands against the floor and lift your buttocks up off of your heels. Cross your ankles underneath your buttocks, sit back onto the floor, then stretch your legs out in front of you. Shake the legs and knees up and down a few times on the floor.