Do you want a tighter core, lean and sculpted legs, and strong arms? Not only does yoga make you more flexible, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve your cardiovascular system, but it also makes your body strong.
Starting with poses such as half handstands and dolphin push-ups, you can start to tone and build muscles throughout your body and your mind will also get a nice workout. Get yourself a yoga mat and start on a new journey to a better body with yoga.
Yoga Poses for your Core
In order to tighten your stomach and strengthen your back, you can start with a variety of simple but challenging poses.
This is a very commonly seen exercise, even if you have never done yoga before — this plank helps you to build strength in your shoulders, arms, legs, and your core.
When you move into the plank, inhale deeply in order to broaden your chest through the shoulders and middle back — as you exhale, use that energy to engage your abs to strengthen the pose.
Modifying this pose: If you need to modify this pose until you can accomplish it in full, place your knees on the floor and bend your elbows slightly.
When to skip this pose: Avoid the plank pose if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or wrist sensitivities. This plank can be hard on your wrists. Also, skip it or modify the pose if you have lower back pain.
Side planks rotate the body 90 degrees from a traditional plank in order to strengthen the sides of your abs.
Keep your chest open to make sure you aren’t collapsing into the shoulder that is closest to the floor. Expand your chest on your inhales and strengthen through the abs on your exhales.
Modifying this pose: To ease some of the pressure on the upper body, drop the knee of the closest leg to the ground. You can keep your lifted arm at your side to help with balance if need be. To ease pressure on your wrist, you can also drop to your elbow rather than balancing on your wrist.
When to skip this pose: Skip if you have wrist pain or weakness (or modify it)
Dolphin push-ups are a full-body exercise that can build strength even with a couple of repetitions.
First, keep your shoulders broad — make sure your elbows stay shoulder-width apart and do not point outwards. Aim to increase how long you can hold this pose as the days go by rather than achieving a certain number of repetitions at once.
Modifying this pose: If you begin to fatigue in the dolphin push-up at first, focus on the plank pose first and foremost. As you begin to stay in plank position longer, try the dolphin push-up again.
When to skip this pose: If you have elbow issues, you may wish to skip this pose.
Yoga for Strong Arms
The series of poses below will tone your shoulders, biceps, triceps, and uses your bodyweight to strengthen your arms.
The Crow Pose is an empowering pose that makes one feel as if you are flying. This pose builds strength in the shoulders, arms, and abs.
Keep your spine straight and look at a spot in front of you about one foot in front of your hands. Engage your abs and image that every muscle in your body is connected to your core and tighten them.
Modifying this pose: If your wrists are bothering you, keep your feet on the ground and lean forward into your upper arms without actually putting your full weight onto them.
When to skip this pose: If you have wrist pain, this pose does put all of your body weight on your wrists, so be careful and modify as necessary, or skip it altogether.
The Side Crow pose take the Crow Pose previously and rotates it 90 degrees. You will be flying again, but this time, on your side.
If it is your first time doing this pose, place your arms closer together and try not to clench your face, neck, or shoulders. Find a point to look at in front of you for balance.
Modifying this pose: Instead of lifting off to side crow, stop at the twisted chair pose.
When to skip this pose: Just like the traditional crow, if you have wrist discomfort, this is not a pose you should try.
Yoga for a Strong Mind
Strengthening your mind is important when practicing yoga – it is not all about the physical journey.
Set your intentions
Yoga courses typically open with a bit of time that will allow you to set your intentions for the yoga exercises in front of you. This is often called “intention-setting.”
To use this time wisely, take a moment as you start to clear your mind. Shift your focus from the world around you and focus more regarding your body.
As you move through your different yoga poses, always make sure to breathe in and out rhythmically, and consistently. You can throw yourself off of your poses and concentration by breathing erratically.
End with rest
Don’t hit the road as soon as you finish your last pose. When you are done with your practice, take a moment to lie flat in the corpse pose — flat on your back in supine form. This is the perfect time to rest your mind and body.
To truly relax, try to think about your physical body melting into the floor and becoming one with all around it. When you are ready, come to a seated posture. Take another moment to prepare yourself or getting back to your day.