5 Strengthening Yoga Poses
These 5 poses are a great place to start if you are hoping to build strength in the arms, legs and core. Be sure to warm-up and cool-down after you practice these poses.
- High Lunge. In this pose you are standing firmly on your front foot and on the ball of the back foot, with your hips facing forward, arms lifted overhead and your front knee bending to as close to 90 degrees as possible. You will quickly feel heat building in the thighs and arms. Try holding the pose for 30 seconds, and work up to one minute or more.
- High Plank to Low Plank (Chaturanga Dandasana).
This flow back and forth between a high plank and Chaturanga is good for arm and core strength. When lowering to Chaturanga, be sure the tips of the shoulders do not sink lower than the elbows. The elbow and shoulder should be in line. Also be sure to keep the gaze downward – do not strain the neck by looking forward. If the flow is too difficult on the toes, drop down to the knees. Aim to go up and down between the poses 5-10 times. See if you can hold the low plank for a count of 3-5 seconds.
- Side Plank. The side plank builds strength in the arms and core muscles. Like in the high and low
plank, if the pose is too difficult, take your bottom knee to the mat. Whether your are on your feet or knees, try to avoid letting your hips sink towards the floor. Aim to hold the pose anywhere from 10 seconds to 1 minute before switching to the other side. If you really want a challenge, try moving straight from the high and low planks into the side plank on each side without a break!
- Warrior II. This pose will build strength in the shoulders and legs, especially when held for a number of breaths. Aim to bring the knee to a 90 degree angle without letting the knee come over the ankle. If the knee does come over the ankle, widen your stance until the knee is directly over the ankle. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Dolphin. Dolphin pose is essentially a downward dog on the forearms. It will likely feel more difficult to bring the heels to the ground in the pose than it would be in downward dog. It is a good pose for strengthening the
arms and opening the shoulders. Try performing the pose 3 times, holding for 10 seconds each time. As your strength improves, see if you can hold the pose for up to 45 seconds each time.