Build overall body strength with these challenging yet effective yoga poses.
When we think of building strength, yoga may not be the first fitness exercise that comes to mind. However, a few static stretches and poses can boost strength considerably. Working with your own body weight is an effective and safe workout. It also delivers results that could match—or even surpass—using weights for building resistance and strength.
Here are five yoga poses that look deceptively simple, but actually help to build strength. Practice them daily and you will have a stronger body in 2017!
When we think of building strength, yoga may not be the first fitness exercise that comes to mind. However, a few static stretches and poses can boost strength considerably.
#1: Boat pose or paripurna navasana
Strengthens: Abdominals and hips
How: By balancing on the tripod of your sitting bones and the tailbone, the boat pose targets the rectus abdominus. It also engages the hip flexors, quadriceps and the back’s erector spinae muscles.
The pose: Sit on the mat, lengthen your spine and bend your knees. Engage your thigh muscles by lifting your feet off the floor; your knees can remain bent, or straighten them if flexibility allows. Reach your arms forward but ensuring that shoulders are away from the ears and relaxed down. Hold for five to eight breaths.
#2: Side plank or vasisthasana
Strengthens: The core, especially the oblique muscles
How: Due to its position, the side plank activates a whole range of muscles, from the shoulders down to the wrists, abdominals, and legs.
The Pose: Beginning from Downward Dog pose, shift your body weight on to the edge of the left foot, and stack your right foot on top of the left foot. Balance your weight on your left arm and hand as you turn your torso to the right, lift your right arm and extend it upward. For extra support, the lower knee of the right leg can be kept on the floor or bring your left leg forward of the body to step on the ground. Hold for five to 10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
#3: Chair pose or utkatasana
Strengthens: Arms, legs and torso; stimulates diaphragm and heart
How: The chair pose is achieved by mimicking the action of sitting on a chair, but without an actual physical chair. The hip flexors, adductors, quadriceps, and glutes are activated for this pose. The rectus abdominus along the body’s front is engaged, as are the arms.
Get in the Pose: Stand grounded with your feet together. Then lower yourself down into a deep sitting position with your arms stretching upwards. Shift your weight away from the toes and move your shins back to prevent placing stress on your knees. Hold for five breaths before releasing and returning to standing position.
#3: Warrior I pose or virabhadrasana I
Strengthens: Lower body
How: This is a strong pose that requires firm balance. It engages the quadriceps, glutes, hip flexors of the back leg, and the erector spinae muscles along the back.
The Pose: Stand with your feet together. Take a big step forward with one foot, keeping the foot facing forward with the knee staying aligned with the ankle. Angle your back foot at 45-degrees and position your hips squarely. Draw in your ribs and raise your arms straight above your head. Hold for five breaths, return to standing positon, and repeat on other side.
#4: Four-Limbed Staff pose or chaturanga
Strengthens: Upper body
How: Similar to a plank, except that the balance is on the toes, the chaturanga pose tones the abs, biceps, triceps and wrists. In the process, it lengthens the spine and engages the shoulders, thighs, butt, and feet.
The Pose: Start from a standing position and bend forward so that your forehead touches your legs. Step into the push up position, and slowly lower your body to the floor while keeping your body in a straight line. Bend your elbows at 90-degrees and keep them close to your rib cage. For a simpler variation, bring your knees to the floor before you lower the body. Hold the pose for one to four breaths.
Besides building strength, the poses also help with conditioning flexibility. Keep in mind that to reduce or prevent injury, ensure that your postures are done with proper alignment and form. Also, remember to breath.
Start practicing these five poses daily, and soon enough, you will be stronger than you are now. Good luck!