8 Yoga Poses That Stretch Your Quads

Your quadriceps are the group of four large muscles that make up the front of your thigh. These muscles tend to be tight in athletes, especially runners and cyclists. The following yoga poses offer a variety of ways to stretch the quads.

Crescent Lunge - Anjaneyasana

Crescent Lunge - Anjaneyasana
Crescent Lunge - Anjaneyasana. © Barry Stone

This is a good pose for beginners since you can easily modify it depending on your flexibility. Backing off the depth of the front knee will give you a less intense stretch. You can also go the other way by bending your back knee and pulling your foot towards your butt. If this pose bother your knee, here are some modifications.

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Hero Pose - Virasana

Hero Pose –- Virasana. © Barry Stone

A lot of yoga quad stretches also incorporate balance and/or back-bending, but not hero pose. No, all you have to do here is sit and breath into the discomfort in your thighs. If you need to modify this pose to make it less intense, sit your butt up on a blanket, block, or bolster. On the other hand, if you're not feeling much in an upright position, you can deepen the stretch by reclining.

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Pigeon Pose - Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Pigeon Variation
Pigeon Variation. © Barry Stone

This is one of the preparatory poses for full pigeon, which requires some openness in the quads in addition to a flexible back. For purposes of the thigh stretch, don't worry if you can't clasp your hands overhead. Just focus on drawing your back heel toward your butt.

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Sugarcane Pose - Ardha Chandra Chapasana

Sugarcane Pose - Ardha Chandra Chapasana
Sugarcane Pose - Ardha Chandra Chapasana. © Barry Stone

For those who like to multitask, you can stretch the hamstrings on your standing leg and the quads on your lifted leg by taking half moon into sugarcane pose. You can even get a little back-bend in there while you're at it.

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King Dancer - Natarajasana

King Dancer Pose - Natarajasana. © Barry Stone

You can keep the quad stretch from sugarcane (above) going by moving directly into king dancer. If that's not enough of a challenge, you can work up to the full version of this pose, in which you hold onto your foot with both arms raised over your head, all while balancing on one leg. It's probably one of the toughest poses you can try.

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Camel Pose - Ustrasana

Camel Pose - Ustrasana. © Barry Stone

Now we're moving into the back-bending poses. Since our focus here is the quads, modify whenever necessary to make the back-bend less intense. In camel, for instance, you can use blocks under your hands instead of bringing them to your heels. You can also place your hands on your lower back or sacrum.

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Bow Pose - Dhanurasana

Bow Pose – Dhanurasana. © Barry Stone

In bow pose, your grasp on your feet allows you to pull yourself into a deeper back-bend. It also makes for a great thigh stretch. Experiment here between flexing the feet and pointing the toes. Each gives a slightly different stretch, as will changing your grip from the outside to the inside of your feet.

Little Thunderbolt Pose - Laghu Vajrasana

Little Thunderbolt Pose - Laghu Vajrasana. © Barry Stone
Taking camel pose (#6, above) to its outer limits brings you into laghu vajrasana. Bringing your head to the floor results in a deep backbend and also requires very open quadriceps. This is definitely an advanced posture, so don't worry if it doesn't seem in the realm of possibility right now. Working on camel will offer the same stretch with less intensity.

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