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. These yoga poses offer a variety of ways to stretch them. You will need a yoga mat and basic props such as a blanket and blocks for additional support.

Before you start, warm up with a few rounds of Cat-Cow (Chakravakasana) stretches and sun salutations (surya namaskar A). If you're brand-new to yoga, work with a certified instructor and learn beginner-level postures. Do not attempt intermediate or advanced poses until you've familiarized yourself with the basics.


Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana)


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  • Targets: Quadriceps, ankles, hip flexors, core stability, spinal flexion
  • Level: Beginner

Crescent Lunge 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 increase the quad stretch by bending your back knee and pulling your foot toward your butt.​ Placing a blanket beneath your knee can offer additional support.


Hero Pose (Virasana)


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  • Targets: Quadriceps, ankles
  • Level: Beginner

A lot of yoga poses that stretch the quads also incorporate balance and/or back-bending, but not Hero Pose. The goal here is to sit and breathe into the stretch and through any sensations you experience.

To modify this pose, sit on a blanket, block, or bolster. Alternatively, you can deepen the posture by lying back into Reclined Hero Pose (Supta Virasana), which is more advanced.


Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)


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  • Targets: Quadriceps, hip flexors
  • Level: Intermediate

Pigeon Pose is a preparatory pose for One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), which requires more flexibility in the quads in addition to a flexible back.

But for purposes of a thigh stretch, focus on finding stability and support in Pigeon Pose. Use props like a block or a blanket under your hip or a bolster beneath your torso to make this pose more accessible so you can hold it for a longer duration.


Sugarcane Pose (Ardha Chandra Chapasana)


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  • Targets: Quadriceps, chest, balancing, back-bending
  • Level: Intermediate

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 (Ardha Chandrasana) into Sugarcane Pose. You can even get a little backbend in there too.


Dancer's Pose (Natarajasana)


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  • Targets: Quadriceps, legs, core, balance
  • Level: Intermediate

Dancer's Pose gives the quadriceps of the lifted leg a serious stretch. It also tests your balance and stability.

For an extra challenge, you can work up to King Dancer Pose, in which you hold onto your lifted foot with your hands with both arms raised overhead. However, the basic version of Dancer's Pose can still get the job done.


Camel Pose (Ustrasana)


Watch Now: How to Stretch with Camel Pose

  • Targets: Quadriceps, chest, abdomen, back-bending
  • Level: Intermediate

Camel Pose is a big back-bending posture that can be supported with props. Since your focus here is stretching quads, you can modify the pose by placing your hands on your lower back or sacrum.

​Other options include placing a blanket beneath your knees for additional support and putting a block between your feet to help keep your thighs in alignment. You could also try placing blocks beneath your hands instead of bringing hands to heels.


Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)


Watch Now: How to Do a Bow Pose

  • Targets: Quadriceps, chest, and back muscles
  • Level: Intermediate

In Bow Pose, grasping your feet allows you to draw yourself into a deeper backbend. It also makes for a great thigh stretch.

Experiment between flexing the feet and pointing the toes. Each gives a slightly different stretch, as will changing your grip from the outsides to the insides of your feet.


Little Thunderbolt Pose (Laghu Vajrasana)

Little Thunderbolt Pose

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

  • Targets: Quadriceps, chest, abdomen, back-bending
  • Level: Advanced

Little Thunderbolt Pose can be accessed from Camel Pose (above). Bringing your head to the floor results in a deep backbend and also requires very flexible quadriceps.

Doing this pose before you are ready for it could cause injury to the spine. Working on different variations of Camel Pose will offer the same stretch for your quads with less intensity.

This is the most advanced quad stretch in this series, so only attempt it once you're well-practiced with the other poses. A certified yoga instructor can show you how to gradually build your way into this advanced posture.

1 Source
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  1. Bender PU, Luz CMD, Feldkircher JM, Nunes GS. Massage therapy slightly decreased pain intensity after habitual running, but had no effect on fatigue, mood or physical performance: a randomised trial. J Physiother. 2019;65(2):75-80. doi:10.1016/j.jphys.2019.02.006

By Ann Pizer, RYT
Ann Pizer is a writer and registered yoga instructor who teaches vinyasa/flow and prenatal yoga classes.