When you think of ways to build up muscle and total body strength, yoga probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. Of course, hitting the weights is one of the best ways to bulk up, but building up muscle and total body strength goes way beyond six-pack abs.
Yoga helps build up muscle and total body strength by using both isometric and eccentric contractions to simultaneously strengthen your muscle while they stretch. The next time you plan on hitting the gym to do some muscle-building exercises, take your yoga mat with you and try out these simple poses...
Practise these three yoga poses to build up muscle and total body strength
#1: Forearm plank
The forearm plank works your entire core group, including your erector spinae muscles (located along your spine on you back), transverse abdominus (one of the deepest layers of your core musculature, which keeps your spine stabilised) and rectus abdominus (your six-pack muscles). As a bonus, this pose helps tone up your shoulders and engages your chest, thighs, calves and glutes.
How to do it:
From table top position, come down onto your forearms. Place your hands shoulder-width apart, keeping the elbows in line with the wrists. Step one foot back at a time to forearm plank.
Push actively down through your forearms as you draw your front ribs in. Keep your hips low without collapsing in your lower back. Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels. To increase the contraction, visualise trying to draw your toes forward toward your elbows and your elbows back toward your toes.
Start off with five to eight breaths and eventually work your way up to one minute.
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#2: Chair pose
The chair pose helps build up muscle in your legs by contracting your glutes, adductors, quadriceps and hip flexors. It also creates powerful strength in your trunk by working your rectus abdominus along your front body and your erector spinae along your body.
How to do it:
#3: Crescent lunge
Start standing with your feet together. On an inhalation, sit deeply back as if sitting in a chair and reach your arms up toward the sky. Feel your shins moving back as the weight shifts away from the toes, which will prevent undue stress on the knees.
Hold for five breaths and then release and come back to a standing position.
The crescent lunge builds up muscles in your lower limbs, including your glutes and quadriceps. It’s also great for engaging your erector spinae muscles along your back and stretching out your hip flexors in your back while your front leg is contracting.
How to do it:
Start with your feet together and take a big step back into a lunge. Make sure your front foot tracks straight ahead and your knee aligns over your ankle. Position your hips squarely forward and raise your arms overhead. Draw your front ribs in to engage the core.
Hold for five breaths.
There you have it – three yoga poses to help build up muscle and total body strength.
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