You might have been in awe by all those yoga poses and asanas on Instagram, and slightly intimidated at the same time. Yoga can be intimidating for new students, but it’s a great way to build and develop one’s physical strength.
For people who attempt yoga for the first time, it might feel as though the yogis and yoginis who effortlessly transition from one yoga pose to the next are naturally strong and born that way. The fact is, you don’t need to be athletic or some kind of a gymnast to master yoga; however, with consistent practice, one develops profound levels of physical, mental and emotional strength than one could have ever possibly conceived.
The yoga poses or asanas below are easy for beginner yoga students who want to build body strength. The key to becoming better at achieving these poses is accepting where you are and simply persisting. Yoga poses are not an end in itself, as yoga is a process of self discovery.
Yoga integrates isometric and eccentric contractions which help to simultaneously strengthen a muscle when it stretches. This creates functional strength which helps us in daily activities such as walking, bending, lifting, and standing up. Strengthening yoga poses rely on one’s body as the “weight” and targets the smaller muscles which are commonly overlooked when using traditional weight training methods.
Here are three yoga poses for building strength:
1. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
This pose builds powerful strength in the legs as it contracts the glutes, hip flexors, quadriceps and adductors. Begin by standing with your feet together. Inhale and sit deeply back as though sitting in a chair. Reach toward the sky and feel the shins as they move back, with the weight shifting from the toes. Hold this position for 5 breaths; release and return to standing position.
2. Crescent Lunge (Ajaneyasana)
This pose will strengthen the lower limbs such as the glutes and quadriceps, engaging the erector spinae muscles on the back. The Crescent Lunge also stretches the hip flexors of the back leg while the front leg contracts. Enter this pose by standing with your feet together and take a big step back into a lunge. Ensure that the front foot goes ahead and the knee aligns with your ankle. Keep your hips placed forward and raise the arms up. Draw in your front ribs and hold for five breaths.
3. Dolphin Plank (Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This pose is a full-body exercise that will engage the entire core group, the transverse abdominus (one of the deepest core muscles that helps stabilize the spine) and the rectus abdominus (the six-pack muscles). The Dolphin Plank will also sculpt and define the shoulders while engaging the chest, thighs, glutes and calves. Go into a tabletop position and come down on forearms. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart while maintaining the elbows in line with your wrists. Take a step back at a time and actively push down through the forearms while drawing the front ribs in. Maintain your hips low without lowering the back. Next, extend the tailbone toward the heels. Try to draw the toes forward towards the elbows and bring the elbows back to the toes. Begin with 5-8 breathes and work up to one minute.