Next to increasing flexibility, a regular yoga practice is mainly building strength in your entire body. No matter if you’re starting with easy looking postures like Plank Pose, or if you’re already strong enough to have a play with advanced inversions like Handstand. Here are 20 yoga poses for strength that you might want to know about.
20 Yoga Poses for Strength
Yoga styles like Vinyasa are combining yoga postures into a flow. These transitions challenge our balance, so we have to stay especially focused and keep our muscles engaged in between two yoga poses. If you are looking to build strength in your whole body, the 20 yoga poses for strength outlined below will definitely help you with this endeavor, and some of them are extremely fun to play with.
Dolphin is a nice change to your Plank routine and prepares your shoulders, back and arms for headstand. You can also play with lifting one leg at a time, slowly getting used to balancing on your forearms.
Upward Facing Dog
If you’re looking for toned biceps and triceps, this is the pose for you. Keep your knees lifted and your elbows locked. To avoid build up new tension in your upper back, keep your shoulders away from your ears. Change up your Chaturangas and vary between Upward Facing Dog and Cobra.
Downward Facing Dog
This is probably the most repeated pose of your Vinyasa or Ashtanga Class, as it’s such an integral part of the Sun Salutations. In Downward Facing Dog almost all our muscles are engaged. Before you have reached a certain openness in the hamstrings and mobility in the hips, you will have to carry most of the weight on your arms and shoulders, which can be tiring. Be patient, over time and once the flexibility of your entire body has increased, Downward Facing Dog will become more relaxing. I promise.
4-Limb Staff Pose
If we hold half way through Chaturanga and hover over the mat, body in one line, we are doing 4-Limbed Staff Pose. It’s very challenging and you can press up to Plank again a few times to give your triceps an extra boost.
Crow Pose is one of the more accessible arm balancing poses for beginners. It strengthens your biceps, triceps, shoulders, and core, plus you improves your balance. Engage your core and your pelvic floor to support your arms in carrying your body weight. If you already master Crow Pose, try Side Crow.
If you can balance in Crow, start straightening your arms to come into Crane Pose. It requires more strength in arms and core, as with straightening the arms, the little shelf that has supported your legs in Crow Pose will disappear.
Read More: 15 Yoga Poses to Burn Fat
Flying Pigeon is best accessed from Standing Figure 4 Pose. Bending forward from your hips, placing the hands on the mat, lift up the standing leg. It requires quite a bit of flexibility in your hamstrings and mobility in your hips. Once up in the air, this pose also builds up strength in your back leg and glutes, as the muscles have to work to keep the leg lifted.
Inversions are one of the most important poses of the entire yoga practice. Make a strength exercise out of them and try handstand. If you’re new to this, make sure you practice handstand in front of a wall. While in gymnastics you are ok to kick up into handstand, in yoga we try to lift up through our core strength only. I know this sounds impossible, but with practice and patience, you will eventually get there. The journey is part of the fun, enjoy it.
8-Angle Pose lets you hover closely over the mat, so for yogis with fear of falling, this is a good arm balance to start with. Practice some hip opening postures like Butterfly and Half Frog before attempting 8-Angle-Pose. Even if you don’t master it perfectly yet, it has the potential for a great picture. Plus, it’s easier than it looks.
Shoulder Press Pose
To give you some variety of arm strengthening poses - try Shoulder Press Pose. It takes openness in your hips and length in your hamstrings, but it’s fun if you like to experiment.
Locust is great to build up your back strength. Looking for a toned body, women often forget to work on their back. But it’s really important. Not only for a great posture but also to lose any additional fat on our back and waist. Locust can be modified to suit your level of strength in the back and core.
Lotus Pose is what many yogis strive to master, as no other pose is as symbolic for yoga as sitting comfortably with your heels resting on your thighs. Lifting up is an extra challenge that requests as much abdominal strength as engagement from your arms and shoulder muscles.
Boat Pose gives you the possibility to adjust the level of core work you want or can put into this pose. You can keep your legs on the mat or lift them up, keep them in table top position or straighten them. Play with the position of our torso to intensify the workout.
If you’re looking for toned legs and a firm butt, make Chair Pose part of your regular practice. You can bring some variety into Chair twisting to one side, and step back into Revolved Crescent Lunge. Stay mindful during the transition and engage your core for balance.
If you’ve got bored of Plank, try a few Side Plank variations. They are a great way to tone your oblique muscles, arms, glutes, and legs. From Side plank, you can also flip over into Rock Star Pose for another inversion.
Often practiced as counterpose to forward folds, our arms, shoulders, and legs have to work hard to keep our hips lifted in Upward Plank. You can straighten your legs, with feet reaching down, or keep the soles of your feet planted onto the mat.
Revolved Triangle gives you another balancing challenge. We really have to engage our legs and core to hold this twist. It’s opening the chest and - as every twist - gives our digestion a nice boost.
Revolved Side Angle
Side Angle Pose tones your entire body plus stretches the sides of our body from toes to the neck. In Revolved Side Angle you need to engage your muscles, even more, especially the core, to stabilize your body and prevent it from falling over. Plus: twists, digestion, you know what I mean?
Legs and glutes are the main target in Crescent Lunge, but as you have to focus on a gazing point for balance, this pose can also calm your mind. Try to keep your shoulders open and relaxed. You can also rest your hands on the opposite shoulder to give your arms and shoulders a rest and focus on leg strength.
Bridge Pose is a great posture if you are suffering from back pain, as we release tension by extending our spine. But it also builds up strength in our back muscles that are supporting our spine, and play a big role in preventing any ailments in the back.
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