Yoga may not be the first exercise that comes to mind when talking about strength training. Pilates, weights, even resistance training are the go-to for building strength. However, it is much tougher to hold a static yoga pose than it looks. By using only body weight, it is a safer way to train strength than with weights. Done at least three times a week, these five yoga poses will accelerate your strength building quickly.
1. Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)
This yoga pose builds strength in the abs and deep hips, as it requires balancing on the tripod of the sit bones and the tailbone. The Boat Pose also trains the rectus abdominus, hip flexors, quadriceps, and the erector spinae muscles of the back for strength.
The Boat Pose is entered from a seated position—lengthen the spine and bend the knees. Engage the thigh muscles and lift feet off the floor. Knees can remain bent, but if flexibility allows, straighten them. Straighten the arms and reach them forward, soften the shoulders and keep them away from the ears. Hold for five to eight breaths.
2. Side Plank (Vasisthasana)
This yoga pose strengthens the entire body by conditioning the core, and especially the oblique muscles. It builds strength in the shoulders, arms, wrists and abdomen, and the legs are also completely engaged in this yoga pose for strength training.
Start in the downward dog position, also known as adho mukha svanasana. Shift the body weight onto the edge of the left foot, and stack the right foot on top of the left foot. Swing the right arm onto the right hip and at the same time, turn the torso to the right. Support the entire body weight on the edge of the left foot and left hand, and extend the right arm upward. For extra support, the lower knee can be kept on the floor. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.
3. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
This yoga pose not only builds strength in the arm and leg muscles, it also engages the hip flexors, glutes, adductors, and quadriceps in the legs, as well as the rectus abdominus along the body’s front. This pose also stimulates the diaphragm and heart.
Stand with the feet together then sit back deeply, as if on to a chair, with the arms straight and stretched upwards. Move the shins back to shift the weight away from the toes and prevent stress on the knees. Hold for five breaths, before releasing and coming back to a standing position.
4. Warrior I Pose (Virabhadrasana I)
This yoga pose completely trains the lower body by strengthening the quadriceps, glutes, and the erector spinae muscles along the back. As a bonus, this yoga pose also stretches the hip flexors at the back of the leg while the front leg contracts, all to build strength.
Stand with the feet together then take a big step back. Keep the front foot pointing straight ahead and align the knee with the ankle. Angle the back foot at 45 degrees from the back. Position the hips square and facing forward, and raise the arms overhead. Draw the ribs and abs in to engage the core. Hold this pose for five breaths.
5. Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga)
This yoga pose strengthens the core and also lengthens the spine. Apart from training strength in the abdomen, it also works on strengthening the biceps, triceps, and wrists. The thighs, buttox, shoulders, and feet are all engaged when in this yoga pose.
Get into a full plank position, then slowly lower the body towards the floor, while keeping the body in a straight line. Bend the elbows at a 90-degree angle, and keep them close to the ribcage. For a simpler variation, the knees can be brought to the floor before lowering down. Hold the pose for one to four breaths.
These five yoga poses not only strengthen the areas they target, they also provide flexibility conditioning too. To prevent injuries, perform these weight bearing yoga postures with proper alignment and form.
Hope these yoga poses help you build your core strength and core muscles 🙂