Yoga Toning and Strength Training Exercises

by on February 26th, 2015
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People often think of yoga as a method to increase flexibility, but in fact yoga also provides excellent toning exercises and strength training. When poses are applied in an appropriate sequence, strength can be built in the upper body, lower body, and core muscle group. Yoga can provide a full-body workout when you cultivate stability and mindful challenge in your daily practice.

Always make sure to warm up at the beginning of your practice. Start by tuning into your breath and scanning your body, listening to areas that may need special attention or care. Warm up with some gentle, flowing poses like cat/cow and walking your down dog.

Toning the Upper Body

To strengthen the upper body, try poses like plank, crane, and one-legged downward-facing dog. You can practice these poses alone, or weave them into sun salutations. Half-plank with the knees down is an excellent option if plank feels out of reach. Make sure you align your body with shoulders over wrists, and you will develop muscles over time to make full plank a reality. If wrists are tired, try forearm plank instead.

Strengthen the Lower Body

To strengthen the lower body, focus on standing poses. Warrior one, warrior two, and side-angle pose tone and strengthen the legs. In side-angle pose, focus on lifting the body slightly up and activating the legs. Advanced standing postures like warrior three or half-moon pose offer balance and challenge as you tone and activate the feet, calf, thigh, and gluteus.

Improve your Core

Yoga is also a great way to tone your core. Almost every pose in yoga can include a mindfulness of the core. A few to include that specially target the core are chair pose, forearm plank, and dolphin pose. Otherwise known as “powerful pose,” chair is a versatile posture that can be done in many ways. Try lifting one arm in chair pose, then alternate lifting the opposite arm. Now lift both arms. Take a rest, standing all the way up. Go back into chair, this time bringing hands to heart. Twist to the right, hooking elbow to the side. Come back through center, and twist to the other side. Stand up, and breathe.

Before trying this or any exercise routine, make sure to check with your doctor. These postures were written for healthy, active adults with no injuries or health conditions.

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