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Three Effective Yoga Tips for Strengthening Your Whole Body

Most people don’t think of yoga when they think of strength training. Instead, they think of weights and barbells as the best way to build strength. While weight training is effective, another option is yoga.

Yoga strengthens muscles to help us in perform everyday activities, like lifting, bending, walking, sitting down, or standing up. Yoga uses the body as the weight and targets smaller muscles used in stabilizing, which are often overlooked in traditional weight training forums.

Below are three yoga poses to help you build overall body strength.

Yoga Tips # One: Downward Facing Dog

This beginner yoga pose offers an overall body stretch. It calms the nerves and energizes the body while strengthening the arms and legs. The downward facing dog pose is good for relieving symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort when done with the head supported. It helps strengthen bones, improves digestion, and relieves headaches, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue.

Downward-Facing-Dog-yoga Photo source: Popsugar.com
  • Step One: Start on the floor on your hands and knees with your knees hip-width apart and toes turned under. Your hands should be slightly forward of your shoulders with your fingers spread.
  • Step Two: Push off with your feet to pull your knees off of the floor, leaving them slightly bent and your heels off of the floor. Lift your rump towards the ceiling, feeling the pull in your inner legs.
  • Step Three: Exhale and push your heels down toward or onto the floor, feeling the pull in your thighs. Straighten, but don’t lock, your knees.
  • Step Four: Press your index fingers into the floor, feeling the stretch along your arms to your shoulders. Keep your head between your arms, rather than letting it hang.
  • Step Five: Stay in this pose for one to three minutes.  Bend your knees to the floor while exhaling and rest.

Increase Difficulty

After step four, increase the difficulty by inhaling and lifting your right leg so that it is parallel to the floor and in line with your torso. Hold for thirty seconds. Release while exhaling and repeat with the left leg.

Decrease Difficulty

Raise your hands off of the floor with a pair of blocks or the seat of a chair to raise the top half of your torso.

As a modification, you can secure a strap around your upper arms. Feel the slight pull inward and push the shoulder blades outward against the resistance.

Cautions

Do not attempt this pose if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, are experiencing diarrhea, or are in late-term pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure or have a headache, support your head on a block with ears between the arms.

Yoga Tips # Two: Chair Pose

The chair pose works the muscles in the arms and legs in addition to stimulating the heart and diaphragm.

yoga chair pose Photo source: Yoga.com
  • Step One: Stand in the mountain pose, with big toes touching, posture straight, and arms to the side with palms facing forward. Inhale as you raise your arms over your head, keeping arms parallel and palms together.
  • Step Two: Exhale and bend your knees, dropping as low to the floor as possible, preferably making your thighs parallel to the ground and keeping them parallel to each other. Your torso will lean slightly over your thighs to maintain balance, hands stretched forward. Feel the stretch in your back.
  • Step Three: Hold for thirty seconds to a minute before straightening your knees while inhaling, lifting arms straight up. Exhale, lower arms, and return to the mountain pose.

Increase Difficulty

Increase the difficulty and strength of your thighs by squeezing a block or thick book between your thighs during the pose.

Decrease Difficulty

Lower the torso, slowly increasing the depth of the knee bend with each attempt at the pose until thighs are parallel to the floor.

Cautions

Do not perform this pose if you are experiencing a headache, insomnia, or low blood pressure.

Yoga Tips # Three: Boat Pose

This beginner level pose works the abs and requires you to test your balance.

yoga boat pose Photo source: Yoga.com

 

  • Step one: Sit on the floor, stretching your legs in front of you. Place your hands, fingers forward, behind your hips on the floor. Lean back slightly, without rounding your back. Keep your sternum lifted and your neck in a straight line with your spine, letting your weight rest on your tailbone and two “sitting” bones of your legs.
  • Step two: Bend your knees, exhaling, and lift your feet off of the floor. Your thighs should be at a 45-degree angle with the floor, knees still bent. Tighten your abs and slowly straighten your knees so that your toes are slightly above eye level.
  • Step three: Stretch your arms alongside your legs, keeping both sets of limbs parallel to the floor. Breathe easy, keeping the lower belly flat and firm, but not hard.
  • Step four: Stay in position four for ten to twenty seconds initially, gradually increasing the hold for up to one minute.
  • Step five: While exhaling, lower the legs back to the floor. While inhaling, sit upright.

Increase Difficulty

At step three, straighten knees completely, making with the upper body and legs each at a 45-degree angle with the floor. The body itself will be at a 90-degree angle at the hips. Stretch your arms parallel with your legs, not with the floor.

Decrease Difficulty

Bend your knees and place a strap under the soles of your feet, holding each end firmly in your hands. While inhaling, lean back. Exhale while lifting and straightening legs, pushing your feet firmly against the strap.

Cautions

Do not attempt this pose without a doctor’s direct approval if you have any of the following conditions or symptoms of same:

  1. Asthma
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Headache
  4. Heart problems
  5. Insomnia
  6. Low blood pressure
  7. Menstruation
  8. Neck injury
  9. Pregnancy

 

Why Choose Yoga

Yoga is an excellent choice of exercise for strengthening your whole body. Most people choose it initially as a fitness option for flexibility and stress relief, but as time passes, they uncover deeper benefits of yoga. It offers an opportunity for self-reflections, self-awareness, and inner growth.

Always seek out a doctor’s opinion prior to beginning an exercise program.

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