Yoga. I’ve always heard lots of things about Yoga. People usually say that yoga is great for meditation, also that it increases flexibility, movement, good for breathing, relaxing, calming your mind and body, etc. etc. And everyone seems to agree with these benefits. However, people usually seem to be divided when it comes to yoga helping you build strength or toning your muscles.
Yoga does help to strengthen your body, core, and muscles. It’s a great way to build flexibility as well as upper and lower body strengths. You know why yoga is amazing to build strength because it uses the best means possible to do just that – your own body weight! A weight equivalent of which you’ll never consciously choose to lift at any gym.
Women especially, (me definitely) have lower (read bad) upper body strength. I can walk a lot and still not get tired, something I learnt with my travels and shopping sprees. I can climb stairs without much difficulty but ask me to lift weights, do rock/ wall climbing (even the miniature versions), I would fare so bad in it.
So, here’s I’m presenting to you, 5 yoga poses that will help you build that much needed upper body strength required for our overall fitness. It’s ideal to start with each of these poses with a 30 second hold time. When you feel stronger, increase the hold by 10 seconds progressively.
This is one of the greatest exercises ever. In a plank pose, you’re building strength and your core. Plank activates most of your upper muscles and works wonders on your arms and abdomen. Plank is much common even outside the normal yoga practice. While you’re balancing your entire body weight on your arms and toes, your back, core, arms, shoulders everything gets strengthened.
To hold this pose, keep your knees and hands shoulder-width apart. The toes would curl outward on the mat, push your heel towards the behind you. Your wrists will be on the mat, directly below and in line with your shoulder. Your neck needs to be straight, so look ahead at the top of the mat. Be in this position as long as you can without lowering your hips, arms or knees.
Chaturanga is a step extra after plank. After getting in a plank position, lower body further down while exhaling and you’re now in a Chaturanga pose. Be careful that your upper arm and forearm makes a right angle at the elbow, don’t bend it any further than that.
It challenges your core further than the plank while also targeting triceps, biceps and shoulders. This pose tones and strengthens your upper body excellently and helps to give you great abs. Be sure to keep your elbows closer to your sides. You need to let the triceps do all the hard work.
This pose is a step ahead of Downward Dog pose. In this, you need to start on your arms and knees, curl your toes and shift your balance on your feet while lifting your knees. Bend your neck, so you form a downward V. Try to touch the soles of your feel to the mat, as much as your hamstrings allow. This is Downward Dog pose, to take it to the Dolphin pose, lower your arms further down till your forearms are resting on the mat. This will stretch your core further and will strengthen your arms.
To hold this position, you’re using all your upper back muscles to ensure that your weight is divided between your arms and feet while pushing your chest towards your thighs.
Let’s circle back to another plank position, side plank. This pose engages your arms, abs, legs and wrists. While it strengthens your upper body, it’s also great to improve balance and stability of the body.
From the plank position, you need to open your body from one side while rolling outwards and stacking your feet, knees, hip on top of each other and in a straight line. While balancing your body on one arm, reach out to the sky with your other arm, so that both your arms form a straight line. Initially, you might not be able to balance this position on just your arm, so feel free to bend your knee (the one which is closer to the ground) to help support your body.
This pose helps with the overall toning of the body targeting the spine, arms, and wrists. While great for your posture, it stretches your chest, shoulders, and abs as well as tones your butt.
From Chaturanga position, inhale and lift your chest outward and upward as you straighten your arms. Roll out your feet and hold your quads off the ground, engage them by pushing them up. Your wrists should be flat on the mat in line with your shoulders, fingers spread out. Relax your shoulders and draw them away from your ears. Look straight ahead, and chin should be parallel to the floor.
These are some of my favourite poses and trust me they’re effective. In the beginning, you might find them challenging, and it will take some time to reach there but don’t give up. Practice makes it better and easier. So, what’re you waiting for? Start today! What better way to celebrate International Yoga Day than starting your daily yoga routine.
Please share your comments and experiences in the comment section below… Happy Workout!
This post is a part of “Yoga Day Blog train”, hosted by Jhilmil and Sayeri. As part of this blog train, 11 bloggers are sharing their views on Yoga in different style. Thanks to Papri who introduced me on her blog, I’m now passing the baton (like relay race) to Snigdha, who is a beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogger and wants to live life on her own. Follow her blog to read her thoughts in words.