Yoga and Meditation

Yoga Poses That Improve Strength

Yoga has been known as the thing to do when you want to get more flexible. But yoga can also improve strength in most of your muscles when you choose the right poses. You don’t need a lot of space or equipment, just your own body weight. Building muscle improves bone density and boosts your metabolism.

1.Adho Mukha Svanasana: Downward Facing Dog

Instructions

Step 1

Start in a plank with your shoulders over your hands, core engaged, feet hip-width apart, and toes tucked. Lift hips to form a straight line from shoulders to heels.

Step 2

Lift your hips back and up to form a pyramid shape with your body. Focus on creating a straight line from hands to hips. Squeeze your upper thighs and abdominal muscles toward each other. 

Step 3

Rotate the biceps slightly forward to open your shoulders and release tension in the neck. Squeeze your arms and shoulders toward each other to engage the upper body. Relax your neck to look back at your feet.

Step 4

Release heels toward the floor to stretch the calves. Hold the posture, inhaling as you lengthen and lift and exhaling as you deepen the stretch and increase engagement.

2. Phalakasana: Plank

Instructions

Step 1

Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana. Then inhale and draw your torso forward until the arms are perpendicular to the floor and the shoulders directly over the wrists, torso parallel to the floor.

Step 2

Press your outer arms inward and firm the bases of your index fingers into the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back then spread them away from the spine. Also, spread your collarbones away from the sternum.

Step 3

Press your front thighs up toward the ceiling, but resist your tailbone toward the floor as you lengthen it toward the heels. Lift the base of the skull away from the back of the neck and look straight down at the floor, keeping the throat and eyes soft.

Step 4

Plank Pose is one of the positions in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. You can also perform this pose by itself and stay anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute.

3. Vasisthasana: Side Plank

Instructions

Step 1

Begin in Plank Pose. Roll onto the outside edge of your right foot, and stack your left foot on top of your right.

Step 2

Swing your left hand onto your left hip, turning your torso to the left as you do. Support the weight of your body on the outer right foot and right hand. Align your body into one long diagonal line from your heels to the crown of your head.

Step 3

Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, so it is in line with your shoulders. Keep your head neutral, or gaze up at the left hand. Stay in the position for several breaths, then return to Plank and repeat on the other side.

4. Paripurna Navasana-Full Boat Pose

Instructions

Step 1

Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Press your hands on the floor a little behind your hips. Lift through the top of the sternum and lean back slightly, making sure your back doesn’t round. Balance your weight on the tripod of your sitting bones and tailbone.

Step 2

Exhale and bend your knees, then lift your thighs so they are angled about 45 degrees above the floor, with your knees still bent. If possible, slowly straighten your knees, raising the tips of your toes slightly above the level of your eyes. If that is not possible, keep your knees bent, your shins parallel to the floor.

Step 3

Keeping your heart open and your spine long, draw your shoulders back and extend both arms forward alongside the legs, parallel to the floor, with your palms facing in. Try to keep your lower belly flat and firm.

Step 4

Point your toes or flex through your heels, and breathe. Try to stay in the pose for 10 to 20 seconds, slowly increasing your time to a minute.

5. Virabhadrasana 2: Warrior 2 Pose

Instructions

Step 1

Start in Mountain pose (Tadasana) at the top of your mat. Bring your hands to your hips, then take a step back with your left leg, turning the body and pointing your left toes to face the long edge of the mat.

Step 2

Look down at your feet and align the left heel with the right heel. Firm your thighs and press ground down through the four corners of your feet.

Step 3

Inhale and extend your arms parallel to the mat, palms facing down. Keep your shoulders relaxed and neck lengthened. 

Step 4

Exhale and bend the right knee, keeping the right thigh parallel to the mat and knee just over ankle. If you feel unstable in this position, adjust your stance or lift your right thigh higher until you feel grounded.

Step 5

Draw your lower belly in and up to lengthen your spine, making sure not to lean your torso to the left or right. keep both sides of the body equally long, with the shoulders directly over the pelvis. lengthen the tailbone down to the ground, and look over your right hand. Stay in the pose for 5-15 breaths, drawing strength from your legs and belly. To exit the pose, press onto both feet, inhale and straighten your legs. Repeat the same pose on the other side.

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