Yoga gets a lot of credit for making people more flexible, but most people don’t appreciate how good yoga can be for developing muscle.

Many of the best strength-increasing yoga postures use balance, which forces your body to use smaller, supportive muscles that otherwise don’t get worked out. It’s the opposite of isolation training – encouraging your body to draw strength from as many muscles as necessary to support yourself in the asana.

The result is a more sculpted, well-rounded body with increased balance and flexibility. If you want to support muscle growth, you can find supplements at to accelerate the process and give you the best results.

1. Plank

A classic plank pose strengthens your core, your back, your arms and seemingly just about every other muscle in your body. Start with 10 seconds and work your way up to a minute or longer.

A forearm plank is stable and accessible for most yogis. Start on all fours and extend your legs back. Clasp your hands together, keeping your elbows below your shoulders, and support yourself over your forearms while keeping your back and neck straight.

2. Side Plank

To get into a side plank, start on all fours and roll onto one side, supporting yourself with one palm flat on the mat and the other extended towards the sky. Stack one foot on top of the other, and hold this pose, keeping your arm as high as possible and your weight aligned above your palm.

This pose is a powerful core-strengthener and targets all of the muscles on your side. Make sure to reverse and perform a side plank on each side for balance.

Endurance poses like the plank and side plank are great for developing muscle because you can push yourself to your mental and physical limits. When you can’t hold the pose anymore, you know you’ve reached your current limitations. There is always next time!

3. Warrior Pose

Warrior pose is simple and classic but does a lot to target the muscles in your core, legs, and shoulders. A full sequence of Warrior I, II, and III will require you to use most of the muscles in your upper torso in order to support your arms.

If you’re concerned about toning, the warrior pose is also useful for defining inner thighs, underarms, and gluteal muscles.

4. Tree Pose

Balancing in tree pose can help you strengthen your core, shoulders, back, arms, and legs.

Stand on your mat with your feet together, and use your right arm to guide your right left to your inner left thigh. Place your hands in a mudra of prayer in front of your chest. When you are finished, make sure to reverse and do the other side.

In this pose, you can really discover how breathwork can help strength training. Try to keep a solid balance while taking deep, regular breaths.

5. Chair Pose

Keeping your legs hip-width apart, raise your arms in parallel in front of you, and as you inhale, bend your knees and move your hips back like you’re about to sit down. Don’t expect to get to 90 degrees here – just move back until you feel the strain and try to hold the pose for as long as possible.

In chair pose, your body is exposed to a lot of gravity it isn’t used to, and you need to use all of the muscles in your legs and torso to support your arms. The more you practice this, the deeper you can go.

6. Squat

There is nothing that will strengthen your hips, legs and gluteal muscles like squats.

Take your feet to the sides of the mat, much wider than you would for a chair pose and place your hands in a prayer mudra in front of your chest as you move your hips back and down as low as they can, before using the strength in your legs to lift you back up. Repeat several times.

8. Crow Pose

This can be a challenging asana. If you don’t have a teacher, use caution, and don’t be discouraged if you’re not able to perform this at first. Working on your strength and balance in poses like planks and tree poses will help you get ready.

In crow pose, you use your hands to support the rest of your weight. Plant your hands shoulder-width apart and bend your elbows slightly. Bring your legs as high on the mat as you can, until your knees touch the back of your arms. Work your weight forward until your feet can easily lift up and you are balancing on your hands.

Crow pose is a lot of fun and a great strength builder for both your arms and your core. It’s also encouraging to see that you can support your whole body just with your hands!

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