Did you know that more than 10% of the entire United States population practices yoga? In fact, about 36 million Americans practice yoga.
One of the biggest reasons for yoga’s explosion of popularity is because it appeals to so many different needs, including increasing your body strength.
If you want to develop flexibility and body connectivity, yoga is for you. If you want to relieve stress, build strength, or avoid injuries, then yoga is for you.
And if you want to develop powerful muscles, then adding strength training yoga to your yoga practice is also for you.
Each kind of yoga exercise or pose emphasizes a different strength training benefit. To learn how to perform yoga for strength training, read this summary below.
Yoga Training For Strength
Yoga workouts are varied. To enjoy strength benefits from your pose practice, you’ll need to make sure to use the right poses, while de-emphasizing cardio yoga or poses that may under-emphasize muscular development.
Poses for Arm Strength
Downward facing dog is one of the most famous yoga poses, known for its ability to develop flexibility. It also trains strength to some degree, but with a quick adjustment, you can turn this classic into a powerful muscle building exercise.
Downward Dog Splits
Downward dog splits starts like downward dog, but you then lift one leg off the ground. Try to lift it high enough that it lines up parallel with your upper body. Stretching it up high like that is a great glute exercise that can really make your booty pop.
Additionally, because this pose takes away one of your leg supports, it leaves the arms to pick up the slack. You’ll feel your triceps and especially your shoulders in this pose.
This pose works out one of your glutes at a time and emphasizes one of your arms more than the other, too. For a balanced workout, make sure to switch back and forth between which leg you raise off the ground.
The Four Limbed Staff Pose
The four limbed staff pose, or Chaturanga Dandasana, starts in the plank position, with your elbows and feet supporting your body. However, to perform the four limbed staff pose, you will then put your hands on the ground back between your chest and your waist.
As you shift your weight forward and keep your elbows at a 90 degree angle, you’ll feel this pose train your chest, triceps, shoulders, and abs all at the same time.
Make sure to keep your body rigid and straight and hold the pose for at least 5 – 10 deep breaths or as long as you can.
As you develop enough strength, you can try to lift your feet off the ground, supporting yourself on only your arms. This will greatly intensify your arm workout while also engaging your glutes.
The Fallen Triangle Chaturanga
The fallen triangle chaturanga also starts in the plank position. Like with the four limbed staff pose, you’ll place your hands on the ground near your chest with your elbows at a 90 degree angle.
Next, however, you will bring one leg forward under your body. Your foot will cross under your torso and stretch past the opposite arm. But this is only the beginning.
From this position, you will then switch to downward dog splits. Take the same leg which is now crossed under your torso, and push it back into the air, simultaneously pushing with your hands so that your leg can go as far as possible.
You can think of this yoga pose as a combination of a donkey kick, the shoulder pushup, and an ab twist all at the same time!
Go back and forth between the two positions multiple times and you’ll really feel the burn. You’ll have to switch over and perform the exercise the other leg next, at which point you should work up a real sweat!
From Plank to Dolphin Plank
Moving from the plank to the dolphin plank is a great way to engage your core and arms.
Start in the plank position. Then lean onto one elbow and place the opposite arm’s hand where its elbow used to be on the ground.
Once you’ve lifted one side of your body off the ground, lean towards that side and put the opposite arm’s hand down where its elbow used to be.
You will then reverse the process to return to the plank. Repeat this exercise 8 to 12 times. And don’t forget to add a side plank to build strength in your core, shoulders, obliques and legs.
The Crow Pose
The crow pose is another intense pose that may require some practice and some strength development before you can perform it. It requires both balance and strength.
Start in downward facing dog, but then bring your feet up closer to your hands. You’re going to then bend your elbows, which will lower your upper body.
By lowering the upper body and bring the lower body forward, you’ll shift more and more of your weight onto your shoulders and arms.
The next step is to place your knees on your triceps above the elbows. As you continue to bring your body weight forward, try to lift your feet up off the ground, supporting your entire body on just your hands.
Holding this pose is a serious workout for the shoulders and triceps. Your core will do most of the work balancing you, which will help it develop as well.
Once you’ve successfully mastered the crow pose, you can switch back and forth between it and downward facing dog to further challenge yourself.
Poses for Leg Strength
Developing toned and muscular legs looks good, but it doesn’t just look good! Strong legs make your daily routines feel effortless and enjoyable.
You may never realize how much constant effort we use to walk until you develop your legs to be able to do so without any strain. That’s just one reason among many to make yoga part of your daily routine!
Strong legs are also key for helping to avoid injury and falls.
The Warrior II Pose
The Warrior II pose, or Virabhadrasana II, is a great pose for working out your quadriceps, while simultaneously toning your shoulders and arms.
Starting from the mountain pose, exhale and bring one of your feet forward 3 to 4 feet. Let your forward leg bend close to 90 degrees, while your back foot will rotate until it’s perpendicular to your forward leg.
Meanwhile your arms will stretch in opposite directions, one held straight in front of you, and one held straight behind you. Both should be parallel to the ground to maximally activate your shoulders.
Hold this pose for up to 1 minute, and you’ll feel your muscles working to maintain it. After you’ve completed one side, switch and do the other.
The Tree Pose
The tree pose is a wonderful tool for developing the muscles all through the leg and foot. It has the additional benefit of being adjustable to make it harder, so that you can develop more strength over time.
To perform the tree pose, start in the mountain pose. Lift both hands above your head and place your palms together.
Then lift one of your feet off the ground by bending your leg. You can rest your lifted foot against your standing leg.
Hold this pose for about 1 minute. When you’re ready to make it more difficult, try standing on just your tiptoes with your supporting leg. This will push your calf muscles and engage your core.
The Extended Side Angle Pose
The extended side angle pose, or Utthita Parsvakonasana, is a great exercise for your quadriceps.
Start in mountain pose and then extend one foot 3 to 4 feet to the side. The foot you left in place is your grounding foot.
Then stretch your arm from the same side as your grounding foot so that your arm, torso, and grounding leg are all one long, continuous line.
You can either rest your other arm on the bent knee of your lunging leg, or you can hold it to the side. Holding it to the side will force your back muscles to work to keep your torso aloft.
After holding this position on one side, return to mountain pose and then lunge with the other leg to keep your body’s development balanced.
The Importance of Mobility for Strength Performance
One of yoga’s benefits is that even when you’re using it to develop strength, it will still help you increase your flexibility at the same time.
Flexibility is more important for athletic performance than many people realize. According to Bridge Athletic, “hip flexibility and mobility allows athletes to become more powerful and perform athletic movements efficiently.”
Fortunately, yoga can work on mobility and power at the same time! No matter how you train your muscles, yoga flexibility training can be a powerful tool to help you get to the next level of performance!
A Powerful Body
Whether you use yoga as your main strength training or as a supplement, your muscles will thank you for taking up yoga. We hope you learned something from this piece about using adding strength training to your yoga practice. To learn more about yoga and fitness, check out our other articles including this one about th 10 benefits of morning yoga.