Yoga Strength Training: 8 Poses That Build Serious Strength

When we think of yoga, flexibility often comes to mind. But did you know that yoga also promotes strength? In fact, flexibility and strength go hand in hand.

Moreover, a stronger core allows for deeper forward bends while increased upper body strength makes challenging poses like Chaturanga and Handstand more accessible. Yoga strength training is a well-known concept, and many yoga poses can double as effective strength training exercises. The key is to hold each pose for an extended duration compared to a typical yoga class.

Yoga Strength Training: Here Are 8 Yoga Poses That Double As Strength Training Exercises

Utilize these eight yoga poses as part of your strength training routine to experience the benefits of yoga strength training.

To make the most of these poses for strength training, challenge yourself by holding them for at least 10 breaths. This extended duration significantly intensifies the workout and enhances the strength-building capability of these poses.

1. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Warrior II is an empowering pose that effectively strengthens the legs, glutes, and arms.


How to practice:

  • Stand with feet wide apart, toes of the left foot facing the top of the mat
  • Bend the left knee over the ankle
  • Extend arms out into a T-shape and engage core muscles
  • Hold the pose for at least ten deep breaths before switching to the other side

2. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

This pose is excellent for building strength in the entire lower body, especially the thighs.


How to practice:

  • Stand at the top of the mat with feet together
  • Extend arms overhead and start to bend knees as if sitting into an invisible chair
  • Engage deep abdominals and hold the pose for at least ten deep breaths

3. Crescent Moon (Anjaneyasana)

This backbend pose is effective for strengthening the front of the thighs and engaging the abdominals.


How to practice:

  • Step left leg forward from a kneeling position, extend right leg back
  • Keep hips square and focus on stretching the front of the right thigh
  • Raise arms above the head, arching the back and engaging the core
  • Hold the pose for at least ten deep breaths on each side

4. Side Plank (Vasisthasana)

This seemingly simple pose is actually a complex full-body workout that engages muscles through a balancing act, including the abdominals, legs, shoulders, and arm.


How to practice:

  • From Downward Dog position, shift weight onto one hand and stack feet on top of each other
  • Extend the free arm upward, strengthening through the supporting hand
  • Engage the entire body to maintain a straight line and hold the pose for at least ten deep breaths

5. Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)

Boat Pose is ideal for working the muscles in the hips and abdominals while also engaging the back muscles for a comprehensive core workout.


How to practice:

  • Sit on the floor with legs extended, lean back, and lift legs off the floor, balancing on tailbone
  • Engage abdominals and maintain a V-shape with the body, holding the pose for at least ten deep breaths

6. Locust Pose (Salabhasana)

Locust Pose effectively works all the back muscles, from shoulders to waist, as well as the muscles in the back of the legs and arms.


How to practice:

  • Lie on the belly with arms beside the torso and legs stretched behind
  • Raise the head, upper torso, and arms, engaging the back muscles
  • Hold the pose for at least ten deep breaths

Enhance Your Yoga with Strength Training Poses

While yoga is often associated with flexibility and relaxation, it also offers remarkable strength training benefits. Incorporating strength-building poses into your practice not only increases muscle tone but also supports your journey towards mastering more advanced asanas. Here are eight poses that will empower your practice and improve your overall strength:

1. Boat Pose (Navasana)

Navasana increases core strength and engages the abdominal muscles, a crucial foundation for all other yoga poses. To perform this pose, sit on your mat, lean back slightly, and raise your legs while lifting your chest. Hold for several breaths and feel the burn in your core.

2. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

This foundational standing pose is ideal for strengthening the legs, particularly the quadriceps. The pose also engages the core, shoulders, and arms. Take a wide stance, bend your front knee, and extend your arms parallel to the ground while gazing over your front hand.

3. Plank Pose (Phalakasana)

Plank pose engages multiple muscle groups, including the core, arms, and shoulders. This pose builds overall upper body and core strength. Start in a push-up position and hold for several breaths while keeping a straight line from head to heels.

4. Upward Plank Pose (Purvottanasana)

Also known as reverse plank, Upward Plank strengthens the wrists, arms, and shoulders. Sit with your legs extended, place your hands behind you, lift your hips, and open your chest towards the sky.

5. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

Chair pose primarily targets the quadriceps, glutes, and core muscles. Begin in a standing position, bend your knees, and reach your arms overhead while keeping your back straight. Engage your core and hold the pose for several breaths.

6. Wheel Pose (Chakrasana)

Wheel pose is an advanced backbend that strengthens the arms, legs, and back muscles. From a supine position, lift into a backbend while actively pressing into your hands and feet, and breathe deeply in this challenging, heart-opening pose.

7. Three-Legged Dog (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana)

This variation of the classic Downward-Facing Dog focuses on the arms and legs. Lift one leg while maintaining balance, engaging the standing leg and keeping the shoulders strong. Alternate sides and hold for several breaths to intensify the exercise.

8. Crow Pose (Bakasana)

As an arm balance, Crow Pose primarily targets the arms and requires core engagement. Transition from a forward fold to place your hands on the mat, balance on the balls of your feet, and shift your weight forward, ultimately supporting your body on your hands.

Incorporating these strength-building poses into your regular yoga practice will undoubtedly enhance your physical strength, leading to improved flexibility and the ability to master more advanced poses. Keep in mind that consistent practice and patience are essential to progress in these challenging postures.

Remember, every pose is an opportunity to build physical and mental strength, so take your time, listen to your body, and enjoy the journey of self-discovery and empowerment through yoga.

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