Yoga is known for its diverse range of benefits. One of those benefits is that yoga can be used to build strength. Moving through poses and exercises that place various strength-based demands on the body helps increase muscle tone, functional mobility, and muscular endurance. But not all yoga is the same and will yield different results based on the style of class and your approach to your practice. If you’re looking to build more strength through your yoga practice, look no further! These strategies will help you dial up the challenge and ramp up results.
One of the classes we offer at YogaSix is Y6 Sculpt and Flow, which incorporates yoga and weights in a fun and challenging high intensity interval training workout. When you use weights, you increase the demand on the body, which helps the body adapt to have more strength and stamina. Whether you are incorporating Y6 Sculpt and Flow into your yoga routine, picking up dumbbells during a home practice, or supplementing with strength training outside of yoga, adding weights is sure to show results.
Take Strength-Based Classes
Yoga comes in many styles, some that are effective at building strength and others that are not. Some classes such as restorative, yin, and other gentle approaches to yoga have little to no strength-building benefits, whereas styles such as power yoga and other vinyasa-based classes can be great for increasing muscular tone and endurance. All Y6 classes focus on building strength to various levels of intensity, so you really can’t go wrong, but we suggest Y6 Power if you want the biggest bang for your buck.
Make the Most of Chaturanga
Many yoga classes incorporate Chaturanga transitions, which involve moving from high to low plank. These transitions help build strength and stabilization through the whole body. If you want to get even more out of your Chaturanga transitions, there are variations you can take to make them more challenging. You may choose to take a few Chaturanga push ups instead of lowering just once, lift a leg, or hold in your low plank for an extra breath or two before finding your way back to Down Dog.
Find Strength in Stillness
During yoga classes, there are times when we are in motion and there are times when we are holding poses. When in motion, concentric and eccentric contractions occur as muscles shorten and lengthen through movements, but there is another type of muscular contraction that occurs during holds called isometric contraction. If you ever catch yourself holding a pose and thinking of it as a “break”, then focus on creating more engagement by hugging in, pressing out, or squeezing the muscles.
Challenge Your Edge
Your mindset has a huge impact on the results of your practice. If you want to build more strength, you have to be willing to face the challenges that come along with it. Much like other aspects of life, when you put more effort into your practice, you’re going to get more out of it. Looks for opportunities to go deeper, increase muscular engagement, or stay for that one extra breath.
Do More Often
To get more benefit from your yoga practice, visit your mat more frequently, or for longer practices. We recommend doing at least one hour of yoga 2-3 times per week to start seeing the compounding strength building benefits. You can also incorporate more yoga into your daily life by doing shorter sessions throughout the day such as during work breaks, first thing in the morning, or anytime you find yourself with a few extra minutes.
Set an Intention
You may have heard teachers say to set an intention for class. Setting an intention helps focus your energy in a particular chosen direction. Setting the intention to build strength is a great way to be open to seeing opportunities to find more strength during your practice. You may find yourself taking more strengthening options and going deeper than you would had you not set an intention around strength.
If you want to start seeing an increase in strength, take strength-based yoga classes at least 2-3 times per week. Look for opportunities to incorporate more strength by adding weights, focusing on muscular engagement, taking more challenging options, and working at your edge. What you focus on will expand, so if strength is what you are seeking, set the intention to build strength at the beginning of your practice. If you incorporate some or all of these techniques, you will be amazed at how much stronger you will be in even just a few short weeks! See you on the mat.