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If you currently do yoga, or it’s something you’d like to begin, but you also want to build muscle, there’s no need to get dumbbells and resistance bands (unless you want them!). Yoga can actually be an excellent way to increase muscle and improve strength. To learn more, we’re sharing how yoga builds muscle, the benefits of it, and even a few poses to get you started.
How Can Yoga Build Muscle?
Depending on the pose, you are using your body weight to naturally engage your muscles, similar to doing planks, squats, or press ups. There are two ways you can do yoga to increase muscle mass and build strength:
- Progressive Overload: Basically, you increase the weight you’re lifting to increase resistance – like adding weights to a barbell. However, you can’t exactly add five pounds to your body each week, so instead, you would increase the challenge of the pose. This will create a similar tension in your muscles that will strengthen them over time.
- Workout Volume: This is generally the easier option where you simply add reps or increase the duration of how long you hold a pose. For example, you could add an extra sun salutation or other series and grow on this.
You can also learn “power poses” that use several groups of muscles that will strengthen over time.
Benefits of Yoga for Building Muscle
Strength training can be an excellent way to combat bone loss and core strength is key to maintaining balance, stability, and supporting your back as we age. While there are a variety of workouts that do this, yoga can be a low-impact experience that’s ideal for older people or people who are going from a sedentary lifestyle while still building strength. Best of all, you’ll get the benefits of yoga – relaxation, focus, reduced stress, and more.
Poses for Building Muscle
Let’s look at some common poses that can also be incorporated into a strength training regimen.
Warrior I Pose (Virabhadrasana I)
Warrior I pose is a commonly used pose in yoga that’s good for beginners and those with experience. It stretches your chest and stomach, opens your lungs, and strengthens your back, arms, and thighs while improving balance.
- Start in Downward Facing Dog and step your right foot up to the inside of your right hand.
- Pivot your left foot and drop your heel to the ground with your toes turned at a 45 degree angle.
- Bend the right knee so that it is directly over the right ankle, taking care not to over-extend and keeping your right thigh parallel to the ground.
- Staying in the lunge position, bring your arms to the side then up toward the ceiling, your hips square to the front.
- Palms can touch overhead or you can keep them straight up at shoulder width apart as you lift your gaze upward and roll your shoulder blades back slightly. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
- Round down through your left foot, keeping your right thigh parallel to the floor and bring your hands down to the mat. Step your right leg back into Downward Facing Dog, and take a few deep breaths.
- Repeat, extending your left leg on this cycle.
This standing pose strengthens your leg muscles, improves balance, and engages the core.
- From a standing position (Mountain Pose), step your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping your feet facing out to a 90 degree angle from your torso.
- Inhale and reach your arms overhead, pressing your palms together.
- During your exhale, bend the knees 90 degrees, and bring your hands to your chest, rolling your shoulder blades downward.
- As you hold this pose for 30 seconds, keep your knees pointed with your feet and your tailbone tucked under your body.
Boat Pose (Navasana)
Boat pose is an excellent opportunity to strengthen your core muscles, build balance, and focus on abdominal strength which will help you move into other poses.
- You start while sitting on your mat with your knees bent and pointed up and your feet flat on the floor.
- As you lift your feet off the floor, keep your knees bent with your so your shins are parallel to the floor.
- Your torso will lean back, but keep your spine straight, rather than rounding forward.
- If you can maintain your upper body position, stretch your legs out to a 45 degree angle from the ground. The goal is for your body to form a V-shape with your legs and torso and your backside as the base of the V.
- Roll your shoulders back and lift your arms (palms up) so they are parallel to the floor as you balance on your sitting bones. Some people may center their weight just behind the sitting bones, but keep your chest lifted to add balance.
- Hold the pose for three to five breaths, then gently lower your legs on an exhale.
Visit Our Smithfield Yoga Studio for Strength Building Yoga
At our yoga studio, we have a variety of classes available, including classes that focus on strength building. To learn more, check out our class schedule or give us a call at 919-971-1431