Proven Weight Training Techniques for Yogis to Build Muscle and Strength

Allison Grinberg-Funes
Proven Weight Training Techniques for Yogis to Build Muscle and Strength

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced practitioner, you’ve probably realized by now that yoga requires muscle strength and activation that you otherwise wouldn’t think about during other types of exercise and movement. Working to increase your muscle strength can help you improve your ability to achieve poses while maintaining alignment and integrity. As with asana, working to improve our strength doesn’t head results immediately but is a gradual process.

Here are 5 strength training exercises you can use to increase your muscle tone and strength and improve your asana.

Tricep Dips

A great muscle to activate and strengthen to help with poses from Chatturanaga to arm balances, the tricep muscle is one you can strengthen using your own body weight.

How to do it:

Hoist yourself onto a stable, flat surface and position the heel of your hand with your fingertips facing forward. With your shoulders under your wrists, roll your shoulders up and down your back, while crawling your feet forward from the flat surface. You can keep your knees bent or choose to extend the legs. Lower down until your elbows are bent and form a 90-degree angle with your forearm and upper arm. Squeeze your elbows towards each other to come up to complete one rep.

Transverse Abdominal Curls

The transverse abdominals act as a corset that hold our internal organs safely together. Strengthening the core helps to protect our spine in every pose, whether it’s Tadasana, Handstand, Bird of Paradise, and others.

How to do it:

From Side Plank, hold your upper arm in a half goal post. Keep your wrist in a direct line with your elbow. Keeping a soft grip on the weight, curl your arm beneath your torso, as if you’re threading the needle. Draw your belly button to your spine and uncurl back to neutral for one rep. Option to kickstand your bottom leg for a modification.

Low Lunge

Lunging comes into play throughout Sun A and B sequences, High Lunge, Chair pose, Eagle pose, and others. It’s important to work on quadricep and glute strength to support us through these movements.

How to do it:

From Down Dog step one foot between your hands and, taking your weights from the top of the mat, stand up to a high lunge. Keep a slight bend in your back knee and keeping your front knee over your ankle and your hips pinned back, slowly lower to 90 degrees. Contract your quad and glute muscles to stand back up and complete the rep.

Neutral Grip Shoulder Press

Our shoulders and latissimus dorsi support us in Dolphin pose, Forearm balance, Headstand and more.

How to do it:

Keeping your wrists in line with your elbows, hold the elbows facing forward, and push the dumb bells above the head, arms framing the ears. Slowly lower with control until the upper arms come below the shoulder line.

Bicep Curls

We use our biceps to support our bodies in Down Dog, Plank, Upward Facing Dog, and other poses such as inversions.

How to do it:

Standing upright with a slight bend in the knee, hold your elbow to your side. Keeping a light grip on the weight and your wrist straight. Bracing the core, curl the weight upwards. Once your forearm is at a 45 degree angle, slowly lower the weight back down to your side. Make sure to keep your core activated and breathe.

Building strength is something that is to be practiced, just like our asana. Over time, use these exercises to improve your muscle tone and strength and you will be able to maintain the integrity of each pose.