Building strength is one of the benefits of a regular yoga practice. Yoga uses both isometric and eccentric contractions to build functional strength that assists us in everyday activities like bending, lifting, walking, sitting down and standing up.
The five poses outlined below will help you develop the strength and stamina needed to build core strength in your yoga practice. Try to hold all these poses for at least 30 seconds to begin. As you get stronger, work your way up to holding for a minute.
This pose strengthens ankles, thighs, calves, and spine. It also stretches the shoulders and expands the chest. Exhale and bend your knees, trying to take the thighs as nearly parallel to the floor as possible. The knees will project out over the feet, and the torso will lean slightly forward over the thighs until the front torso forms approximately a right angle with the tops of the thighs. Keep the inner thighs parallel to each other and press the heads of the thigh bones down toward the heels. Firm your shoulder blades against the back. Take your tailbone down toward the floor.
Downward Facing Dog
Downward facing dog helps increase the range of motion in the shoulders while strengthening the arms and upper body. Begin on your hands and knees with your hands will be directly under the shoulders and your knees will be directly under the hips. Engage your belly and walk your hands forward. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips up. Spread your fingers wide on the mat and press down with all four corners of your hands. Draw the hips up and back and release your heels to the mat as far as they will go.
The side plank pose is great for strengthening arm, core, inner thigh, and back muscles. From Down Dog or plank pose, shift onto the outside edge of your right foot and stack your left foot on top of the right. Swing your left hand onto your left hip, turn your torso to the left, and support the weight of your body on the outer right foot and right hand. Extend your left arm to the sky and gaze up. Lower back to Down Dog; switch sides.
Plank pose is a great way to build wrist, arm, abdominal, shoulder, and back strength. Begin on your hands and knees then tuck your toes and lift your hips so you make a straight line on the entire backside of the body. With your shoulders stacked over your wrists, engage your arms by keeping a tiny micro bend in the elbows, and draw your shoulders back toward your feet. Engage your abdominal muscles by drawing your navel in toward your spine.
Boat pose strengthens the hip flexors, abdominal muscles, and thigh muscles. Begin by sitting with your knees bent about hips distance apart and your feet flat on the mat. Draw your arms up so they are parallel to the mat and your fingers are reaching in front of you. Lift your legs up like a V and point your toes. Engage your abdominal muscles and lift your chest.