Among the many benefits of yoga, strength is a huge focus. So much so… that many people come to yoga solely to increase their muscle power.
- Do you want to practice yoga for strength?
- If so, what are the best types of yoga for strength?
- And what are the best yoga poses for strength that you can start with?
Join us as we answer all these questions – and discover what yoga can do for both your physical and mental strength.
Can You Practice Yoga For Strength?
Yes, you can practice yoga for strength, as well as flexibility, balance, mental fortitude, and more. Yoga poses help you build strength by forcing you to hold static positions using your body weight against an immovable force, such as the floor or the wall.
- Your muscles are fighting against your own body weight and gravity to keep you in the correct position.
- With regular yoga practice, your muscles will become stronger and more limber as time goes by.
- Not only that, but yoga also helps release tension in your muscles, preventing pain and pressure from accumulating in your body.
Apart from physical strength, you also grow mentally stronger when you do yoga. During situations when our body is under stress (i.e. while exercising), our mind often gives up sooner than our body.
For example, you may think that you can no longer hold a pose, but it’s really just your brain looking for a way out of discomfort.
Doing yoga regularly can help build your focus, determination, and mental strength – especially paired with yoga tools and accessories. As time goes by, you will learn how to push yourself further mentally. In turn, this will allow you to do more physically.
We also talk about yoga vs. strength training for weight loss in this article – if you want a comparison guide with pros and cons, to help you shed body fat.
What Are The Best Types of Yoga For Strength?
The best type of yoga for strength include Ashtanga, Iyengar and Power Yoga. They all contain poses that require muscle strength to hold a static pose for a certain period of time – helping tone and build muscle. Let’s cover each one below.
Ashtanga yoga is often referred to as the modern version of classical yoga.
- This yoga style is energetic, involving short poses with a vigorous pace, as well as synchronization of breath with movements.
- That said, ashtanga yoga is not recommended for beginners.
- It’s difficult to do and often requires an intermediate level in yoga.
In addition, a full series usually takes 90 minutes to complete, which is longer than other types of yoga classes. Nevertheless, ashtanga yoga is an excellent style for strength-building, especially in the upper body. As such, we consider it the best type of yoga for strength.
Iyengar yoga is characterized by extremely long holds, spanning from 1 to 5 minutes per pose.
These prolonged holds strengthen the muscles responsible for posture, such as the core, back, and legs. Furthermore, Iyengar yoga helps improve your alignment, timing, agility, and overall athletic ability. It’s another recommendation for those wanting the best type of yoga for strength.
Power yoga uses the core sequences of ashtanga yoga – but it focuses more on fitness and strength, incorporating more movement for muscle power and internal heat.
- Power yoga focuses on the flow from one position to the next with emphasis on breathing as you transition through poses.
- This builds muscle, encourages stability, and increases flexibility with regular practice.
- If you want to practice a style of yoga that can speed up your heartbeat and get you sweating, you’ll definitely want to head to try a power yoga class.
Yoga with weights
Traditionally, yoga is done without any props. But if you want to increase the amount of physical exertion you do with each yoga session, consider using weights while you perform poses.
Look for hybrid classes that incorporate the use of weights with classical yoga. Or if you want to build a beginner yoga workout at home, start with your lightest weights and move the weight up gradually as you gain more strength.
Results can vary, depending on intensity. Some people see strength results very quickly, and some studies indicate it can take 12 weeks.
The Best Yoga Poses For Strength
Now you know the best type of yoga for strength. But what about individual poses? If you’re practicing yoga for the benefits of strength, here are the best strength-building poses to incorporate into your routine:
The plank pose is designed to strengthen your core, shoulders, and lower back muscles. It’s often a part of non-yoga workouts to build abdominal strength. But in yoga, it’s usually done as a swift transitional pose. So, to build strength, hold the plank pose for at least one minute.
- First, start off on your hands and knees. Your shoulders should be directly above your wrists, and your knees should be a little further back (not directly under your hips).
- Slowly straighten your legs with your toes tucked and your fingers spread out.
- Soften your elbows to engage the support muscles in your joints.
- Your form should resemble a diagonal line from your head to your heels. Maintain the pose for at least one minute. If you can’t, bring back your knees to the floor and resume the pose again.
To put more focus on your shoulders, try the forearm plank with your elbows flat on the mat instead of your hands A thick yoga mat can help support you with grip and cushioning, especially as a beginner.
Utkatasana is also known as the fierce or chair pose. The goal is to strengthen the muscles in your calves, thighs, ankles, and spine, as well as to stretch the shoulders and chest.
- Start off in a standing position. Then, bend your knees, lean forward slightly at the hips, and reach your arms upward.
- Keep your weight toward the heels of your feet and hold your arms firmly.
- Hold the pose for at least 8 breaths.
- Return to a standing position by engaging your legs, then repeat the pose again.
The Virabhadrasana III, also known as the Warrior III pose, engages the gluteus maximus and hamstrings of the raised leg. It’s also a great pose for improving balance as it encourages you to hold your weight on one leg at a time. To learn more about how yoga improves balance, check out our complete breakdown of the topic.
- Starting from a standing position, fold your torso forward and place your hands on the floor. If you can’t reach the floor, consider using yoga supplies like blocks and bricks.
- Raise your left leg behind you slowly until it’s at hip height.
- Gradually lift your hands from the floor. Reach forward, towards the sides, or place your hands at your hips.
- Hold the position for 8 breaths.
- Put your hands back on the block or floor and return your raised foot to the original position.
- Repeat the pose with the other leg raised.
If you have back pain, you may also want to learn about using a yoga block for back pain to prevent additional discomfort.
The locust pose looks simple, but it actually engages a lot of your muscles, namely your hamstrings, glutes, upper back, arms, and back extensors.
- Lie on your stomach with your arms by your sides.
- Place your feet and legs at a hip-width distance.
- On the inhale, lift as much of your upper body as you can.
- Hold the position for at least 5 breaths.
- Lower yourself back on the floor and repeat.
Chaturanga is best done after the plank pose. In essence, it’s a more challenging version of the plank because it requires you to rest most of your upper body weight on your shoulders and arms. Like the plank pose, it helps build strength in your arms, shoulders, back, and core.
- Starting from the plank pose, shift your weight into your toes until your shoulders are directly over your wrists.
- Slowly lower your chest to the floor while bending your elbows back. Do this until your shoulders are in line with your elbows.
- Hold the pose for at least 8 breaths.
- Return to the plank pose and repeat.
Navasana or the boat pose is one of the best core builders in yoga. When doing this pose, you want to maintain a good V-shape. For beginners, it’s recommended to keep your knees bent. But as you build more strength (which Live Science agrees can be done with yoga), you can try to straighten your legs fully.
- Start in a sitting position with your knees bent and your feet flat on the mat. Keep your hands on your sides.
- Lean back then lift your feet off the floor. Your knees should be bent and your lower legs should be parallel to the floor.
- Raise your arms forward until they are at level with your shoulders. Face your palms together or turn them toward the floor, whichever is more comfortable for you. If you can’t keep your torso up this way, hold onto the backs of your thighs.
- Straighten your legs if you can maintain the V-shape. If you can’t, keep your knees bent for now. Hold the position for a minimum of 8 breaths.
- Place your feet back on the ground and repeat the pose. Alternatively, you can transition into the low boat pose, which is similar to the boat pose but with your back almost to the mat.
Final Thoughts On The Best Yoga For Strength
We’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the best yoga for strength. However, the guide above is a great starting point. For the best strength building yoga experience possible, shop these yoga kit bundles. These will keep you stay comfortable during your strength-building session!
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