5 Poses to make you strong and flexible
When you think of strength training likely think of lifting heavy weights in a gym. It goes without a doubt that lifting weights and spending time in machines is an effective way of bulking up, but, strength-training is equally about endurance and flexibility. Yoga for strength building and flexibility can add a new, important element to your training.
Yoga is more than glorified stretching. It is a natural system of building strength. As you practice both isometric and eccentric contractions are involved to create muscle strength that assists you in day-to-day activities. Additionally, When the practitioners hold the pose for longer duration using their own body weight, the smaller muscles in the body gets activated that are often neglected in the strength training regimen. The yoga poses performed in synchronization with the breath are a great additive to strength training as it helps the performer’s push/pull more weight.
Yoga is a more balanced approach to strength-training:
- Yoga is fun!
- The practice of yoga poses tone the overall muscles of the group, even the isolated ones. Whereas, the strength-strength training flex one muscle or muscle group at a time.
- The art of yoga relies on eccentric contractions, where the muscles are stretched when contracted resulting in increased flexibility, elongation, and sleek look.
- Flowing through the transitions and performing yoga asanas with variations aids in functional strength and toning of the muscles.
1. Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrikshasana):
Performing Handstand Pose assist in strength building in shoulders, arms, and core as well as leads to balance. And, the addition of push-ups facilitates in functional strength and more.
- Come into downward dog pose with your hands 2-3 inches away from the wall and hands shoulder-width apart.
- Bend the left knee and step the left foot closer to the wall. Keep the right leg active and extended.
- Sweep the right leg towards the wall and gently pull both the legs upwards.
- Involve your abdominal muscles to lift the hips over your shoulders.
- In the Handstand pose, try to lean forward while letting your elbows bent back to perform the push-up. As you go down and up, keep your back straight and avoid aggravating your shoulders.
2. Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana): The pose strengthens the arms and legs, stretches the calves, hamstrings and helps in coordination.
- Come on your hands and knees on a yoga mat. Knees should be under your hips and hands slightly forward of your shoulders
- Spread the palms and turn the toes under
- Exhale, lift the knees off the floor and gently extend your legs behind.
- Hold the head between your upper arms and look at the navel.
- Try to incorporate the hops into downward dog. For every hop, bring your feet closer to the top edge of the mat. As you hop make an ‘L’ with your legs.
3. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana):
The pose stretches the muscles of the lower body, tones the abdomens and prolonged holding of the pose increases stamina.
- Stand in Tadasana with feet-hip width apart.
- Step the feet 3-4 inches wide and align both the heels together.
- Take your right foot out at a 90-degree angle and point your left foot in at 45-degrees.
- Raise the arms parallel to the floor at shoulder-height, palms down.
- Exhale, bend the front knee and align it directly over the ankle, sink the hips low, and make the torso perpendicular to the floor.
- While in the pose, play with the arms, assuming you are holding small weight or dumbbells in your hands.
4. Tree Pose (Vrikshasana): This single-leg pose work on the stabilizer muscles around the ankles, knees, and hips of planted leg. The lifting of the heel works on the core and calf.
- Stand straight on a yoga mat with your feet together. Evenly distribute the weight across the feet.
- Transfer your body weight into the foot of the left leg. Balance yourself on the left leg and bend your right knee.
- With the support of your hand, place the right foot against the inner left thigh.
- Align the left and right hip and press the right foot against the thigh.
- Hoist your hands up towards the ceiling with palms facing each other.
- Look at a point in front of you
- Lift the heel of the standing leg and keep it raised for a few seconds.
5. Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana): The engagement of the arms, legs, and abdomen in the pose strengthen these body parts along with a toned core.
- Perform Adho-Mukha Svanasana.
- As you inhale, lean your torso forward towards the ground until the arms are perpendicular, torso is parallel, and shoulders are directly stacked above the wrists.
- Firmly press the fingers of the hand into the floor. Draw your shoulder blades back and widen your collarbone away from the sternum.
- Pull your abdominal muscles in and bring your body in a straight line from head to toe.
- Look straight down at the floor. Keep your head, and neck relaxed.
- Practice toe shift in the pose.
With regular yoga practice you will lengthen, stabilize, and create functional strength that assists you in your daily routines as well as overall wellness. Add yoga to your routine for strength and flexibility.
Author Bio : Bipin Baloni is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveler in India. He provides Yoga Teacher Training Certification In India. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas.