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5 Yoga Poses That Build Muscle
The stretching and holding of yoga poses can help you build muscle strength. As you move from one asana, or pose, to another, your body grows stronger, more toned and more flexible. Several yoga poses are done slowly or you maintain a posture for several breaths. Shakta Kaur Khalsa, author of K.I.S.S. Guide to Yoga, suggests this challenge to your muscles is more effective than other forms of building body mass. The following yoga poses are among several that build lean muscle and build it fast.
Tree Pose requires significant muscle control so you do not tip over. Because the weight of the entire body is balanced on one foot, the muscles of that leg are strengthened and toned. In this pose you stand straight on your left leg, bend your right leg and place your right foot on your inner left thigh. Your right knee should point to the right, and your arms should be raised with your hands together above your head.
Warrior I Pose
According to Rodney Yee, author and co-director of the Health and Wellness Initiative of the Urban Zen Foundation, Warrior Poses are great for strengthening leg muscles.
- For the Warrior I Pose, from a standing position, jump your feet apart, one in front of you and one behind you.
- Turn your back foot 45-degrees, and extend your front leg with your front foot pointed straight ahead.
- Inhale while bringing your arms straight overhead.
- Exhale and bend your front knee to move into a lunge position.
- Lifting through your core, hold the pose for several breaths.
Warrior II and III are muscle-building yoga poses also recommended by Yee.
The Sanskrit word associated with the shoulder stand, sarvangasana, means all-limb or whole-body posture. According to Yee, inverted poses like this one are very effective in building lean muscle. While effective at muscle-building, most inverted poses also carry a risk of neck and back injury. Do not attempt this pose if you have any disorders such as osteoporosis or arthritis that have resulted in weakness or injury to your neck or spine.
- Lying flat on your back, inhale.
- Exhale as you raise both of your legs straight up and keep them together so that your weight is balanced on your head, neck, shoulders and upper arms. You may support your hips with your hands or leave your hands flat on the floor.
- Breathe gently as this posture is held.
Cobra Pose strengthens back muscles and tones glutes.
- Lying on your stomach, gently push up with your hands, lifting your chest, belly and pelvis off the floor, feeling the stretch in your chest, shoulders and abs.
To strengthen and build muscle mass in your legs, Yee recommends Triangle Pose. You can build lean muscle in your hips and abs as you begin in a simple standing position with Mountain Pose.
- Spread your feet three to four feet apart sideways, keeping your left foot pointed forward while turning your right foot and knee outward.
- Inhale, raising your arms straight out to the sides to shoulder height.
- Exhale as you lean over to the right, extending your body out over your right leg and placing your right hand on the floor.
- Finally, raise your left arm overhead and look up toward your hand.
- Hold for five to 10 breaths.
According to Yee, building muscle mass is probable with many yoga poses, because in many yoga poses, you are lifting your own body weight and positioning your body to work your muscles. In so doing, you build lean muscle.