If you’re someone who swears by strength training with weights, you probably don’t want to spend time doing yoga because, frankly speaking, yoga is not really ideal for muscle building. Yoga is more about bringing flexibility in your body and balance in your life energies. However, some yoga poses do require a lot of strength, especially in the core. By including these poses in your routine, you can build a stronger core and loosen muscles that have become too tight with heavy lifting. Try these 7 poses to know the difference.
1. Boat Pose (Navasana)
Begin seated with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hands resting beside your hips. Draw your awareness inward and focus on your breath. Allow your inhalations and exhalations to be smooth, calm, and even.
Keeping your spine straight, lean back slightly and lift your feet, bringing your shins parallel to the floor.
Draw in your low back, lift your chest, and lengthen the front of your torso. Then, extend your arms forward, in line with your shoulders with your palms facing each other.
Balance on your sit bones, keeping your spine straight. Take care not to let your lower back sag or chest collapse.
Lengthen the front of your torso from your pubic bone to the top of your sternum. The lower belly (the area below your navel) should be firm and somewhat flat, but not hard or thick.
With an exhalation, straighten your legs to a 45-degree angle from the ground, bringing your body into a “V” shape.
Keep your breath easy, steady, and smooth. Focus your awareness within. Soften your eyes and your face. Gaze at your toes.
Spread your shoulder blades wide and reach out through your fingers, actively engaging your hands.
Stay in the pose for five breaths, gradually working up to one minute. To release the pose, exhale as you lower your legs and hands to the floor.
2. Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana)
From Table position, lower the forearms to the floor, tuck the toes under and lift the hips up towards the ceiling.
Spread the fingers wide apart with the middle finger facing forward, and the palms shoulder-width apart.
Press the forearms, fingers and the palms into the floor, and press the hips up and back. Keep the spine straight and long, reaching up high through the tailbone.
Keep the feet are hip’s width apart with the toes facing forward. Press the heels into the floor feeling a stretch in the back of the legs. The legs are straight, or you can have a small bend at the knees to keep the back flat.
Let the head and neck hang freely from the shoulders; the forehead can rest on the floor. Breathe and hold for 2-6 breaths. To release: bend the knees and lower the hips back to Table pose, or come all the way down to child pose.
3. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Come onto your fours. Form a table such that your back forms the table top and your hands and feet form the legs of the table.
As you breathe out lift the hips up, straightening the knees and elbows, form an inverted V-shape with the body.
Hands are shoulder width apart, feet are hip width apart and parallel to each other. Toes point straight ahead.
Press your hands into the ground. Widen through the shoulder blades. Keep the neck lengthened by touching the ears to the inner arms.
Hold the downward dog pose and take long deep breaths. Look towards the navel. To release, exhale, bend the knees and return to table pose.
4. Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
From a standing position with the legs 3 feet apart as in Five Pointed Star, turn the right toes to the right wall and the left toes slightly inwards. Inhale and press the left hips out to the left as you slide both arms to the right parallel to the floor.
Exhale and rotate only the arms, raising the left arm up and resting the right hand against the right leg, with the palms facing forward.
Press into the feet, pull up the knee caps, keeping the legs strong. Reach the fingertips away from each other, bringing the arms into one straight line with the shoulders stacked on top of each other. Press the left hip forward and the right hip back.
Breathe and hold for 3-6 breaths. To release, inhale and reach the raised hand up towards the ceiling as you press down into the feet using the whole body to lift back into 5 pointed star. Repeat on the other side.
5. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Stand with your feet together. Bend your knees slightly and fold your torso over your legs, moving from the hips, not the lower back.Place your hands next to your feet or on the ground in front of you.
Inhale and extend your chest to lengthen your spine. Keep your gaze directed forward.
Exhale and gently press both legs toward straight. Lift the kneecaps and gently spiral your upper, inner thighs back. Keep your legs straight without hyperextending.
On an exhalation, extend your torso down without rounding your back. Stay long throughout your neck, extending the crown of your head toward the ground. Draw your shoulders down your back.
6. Warrior I
Begin standing at the top of your mat in Mountain pose, or Tadasana. On an exhale, step your left foot back about 3 ½ to 5 feet (depending on the length of your legs and the level of openness in your hips).
Turn your left toes out approximately 45 degrees, and place the sole of your foot flat down on the mat. Press down firmly through the pinky toe edge of your back foot, and align the left heel with the right heel.
Bend into your right knee, ensuring that the knee is stacked directly over the ankle and isn’t splaying to the left or right. Move toward squaring your hips and shoulders towards the front of your mat, and lengthen your tailbone down to maintain a neutral pelvis.
On an inhale, extend your arms up alongside your ears. Either keep the palms shoulder distance apart or bring the palms together to touch, and send your gaze up between your hands or to your thumbs.
Relax your shoulders away from your ears and draw the low ribs in, keeping the core engaged. Remain in the pose anywhere from 5 to 10 breaths.
To come out of the pose, either lower the palms and make your way into Downward-Facing Dog, or step back up to the top of the mat. Repeat on the other wise whenever you feel ready.
7. Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
Start by coming to a plank pose, keeping the wrists under the shoulders, and heels pushing back. Keep your core engaged.
Start to roll forward with your toes, keeping your elbows tucked in close to the body. Keep going as far forward so that your arms come to a 90 degrees angle as you lower yourself towards the floor.
Drop the knees down if this feels too much for the arms. Lower yourself towards the floor, keeping the elbows close to the body, and stop once your arms are at a 90 degrees angle. Stopping here requires some serious arm power!
Exhale, and lower yourself with control onto your stomach, and continue onto cobra or an upward facing dog with the next inhale.