Primarily known for its ability to increase flexibility and mindfulness, yoga is also an effective tool in strength-exercising, weight-loss, and working your core. While yoga alone will not give you the physique of a professional bodybuilder, done in coordination with other workouts, its effects have been proven to be beneficial to building muscle.
Much like lifting weights, increasing sets and repetitions will lead to building more muscle. And although you cannot increase the amount of resistance you’re working with, you are using your own bodyweight and different poses to build strength and amass more muscle.
Here are some yoga poses to add to your routine to help you build strength, while also allowing you to increase flexibility, balance, and posture:
Also called Vrksasana, the tree pose will help you feel more… rooted! Here’s how you do it.
Stand up straight and shift your weight to your left foot while you bring your right foot up in front of you, placing it high up on your inner thigh (if you can’t reach that high, you can place it just below your knee). Be sure you remain standing straight, bring your hands into a prayer pose or lift them over your head and spread your fingertips towards the ceiling. Hold the pose for 10-15 seconds and switch legs.
The Horse Pose is a great way to tone your inner thighs and build core muscle. Stand with your feet spread three to four feet apart (depending on your height) and keep both feet facing out at a 45 degree angle. Bend your knees (keep them pointed the same way as your toes), being sure to align them with your heels, and lift up from your belly keeping your torso straight. Place your hands in the prayer pose and hold for 60 seconds. Take a breather and repeat!
Also called Virabhadrasana I, the Warrior Pose is great for toning your arms while working your quadriceps and back muscles - there’s basically not a part of your body this pose doesn’t work at least a little.
Stand up straight and step forward about four feet with your right leg. Bend your front knee, keeping your left leg straight and your left foot turned at a 45 degree angle (keep your front foot straight). Raise your arms straight up overhead Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift
your chin to look at your hands. Hold the pose for 30 seconds and repeat - this time stepping with your left leg.
One of the more difficult poses to master, the Crow Pose works your wrists, forearms, abdomen, and core. It’s an intimidating pose, but being confident, and learning how to adjust your weight around, will have you in the correct position before you know it.
Get in a squatting position and walk your hands forward. Lift your hips up so your hands are comfortably flat on the floor. Move your hands back so they are about a foot in front of your toes. Be sure your hands are spread the same length as your shoulders and your fingers are spread wide. Look straight ahead and slightly bend your elbows. Put your knees on the back of your upper arms and slowly begin leaning forward. Push down with both hands and continue leaning forward until your toes come off the floor, keeping your feet pressed together and pushed towards your hip. Hold for as long as you can, break, and repeat.
These four yoga poses can help take your workout to another level entirely. While some are more challenging than others, they all work your body and build muscle utilizing gravity and your own weight and balance.
Please remember, before beginning a new exercise routine always consult with a medical professional.