Poses such as arm balances are more challenging than others like sitting or standing poses, so avoid those in the beginning. Yoga involves using your own body weight to improve balance and muscle endurance.
You can either find a yoga instructor to help you start a yoga practice that suits your needs, or use one of the many apps or guides available.
In this article we explore five yoga poses to build muscle that you will find most effective.
If you want to build strength with yoga, it may take a longer period of time than other workouts. However, by focusing on your core muscles, you have an excellent foundation for more intensive exercise. Along with muscle endurance, your body strength will improve significantly.
To build muscle with a regular yoga practice, targeting the right muscle groups is essential. There are countless yoga poses that all help different areas, so be sure to find a yoga class or app best for muscle growth.
Many apps have a particular focus and may have a wide variety of options, from power yoga to a more relaxing practice.
5 Great Yoga Poses to Build Muscle
While there are many benefits of yoga, some poses are better for some areas of the body. Whether you want to increase muscle mass or muscle strength, there are ways to maximise your efforts.
The following are some of the poses that will help you get started on developing an excellent foundation of strength.
1. Tree Pose
This pose’s benefits include leg and core strength, the hips’ opening, and stretching of the groin and inner thighs. It is also an excellent pose to start working with balance. If you have concerns, you can always use a wall or other surface for support.
- While standing, bring your palms together at your heart center.
- Distribute your body weight evenly between each corner of your foot.
- Start shifting your weight to the right foot, not locking your knee.
- Lift the left foot off the floor, bending your knee, and place the sole of your foot on your inner thigh.
- Press your foot and the back of your thigh towards each other with equal pressure, keeping both hips square to the front
- Find something stationary and focus your gaze on it to help keep balanced.
- After 5 to 10 breaths, lower your foot to the ground and repeat for the left side.
2. Chair Pose
Chair pose not only strengthens your spine, ankles, thighs, and knees, but it also provides a good stretch of the chest and shoulders. It helps to reduce flat feet and stimulates the heart, abdominal organs, and the diaphragm.
- Start by standing up straight with your arms by your sides and feet together, palms facing forward. (Tadasana)
- Taking a breath, raise your arms, keeping them perpendicular to the floor. You can either keep the arms parallel and palms facing each other or bring them together at the heart center.
- Exhaling, bend your knees and line your thighs up to be parallel to the floor. With your knees out over your feet and torso leaning forward, form a right angle between your thighs and torso.
- Reach your elbows back towards your ears, drawing the shoulder blades into the ribs and upper back.
- Bring your hips down a little more, shifting around 80 percent of your body weight to your heels.
- Gaze forward and hold the pose for 30 seconds to up to a minute. When finished, straighten your legs and lift your arms, exhaling back into tadasana.
You might also be interested in our explainer on does running make you lose muscle.
3. Bridge Pose
By stretching out the front of your body, the bridge pose helps to strengthen your glutes, legs, and lower back. This pose can also aid your metabolism and energy levels, and some variations can also target the quads.
- First, lie on your back with palms flat and feet to the floor, knees pointing to the ceiling.
- Press your arms and feet to the floor, and lift your hips to the ceiling.
- Avoid squeezing your buttocks while drawing your tailbone toward the pubic bone.
- Rolling your shoulders back and underneath, you can clasp your hands together or keep them against the yoga mat.
- Hold for up to one minute or 5 to 15 breaths.
- Release your arms, and roll your spine down as you exhale.
4. Side Plank
A side plank targets the upper body, especially the arms and back. It will also strengthen your core muscles, including the obliques that tend to get worked out with crunches or other ab exercises.
- Begin by lying on your side, resting directly over the shoulder on your forearm with your feet together.
- Raise your hips by contracting your core muscles and create a straight line from your feet to your head.
- Hold the position for up to 30 seconds. To finish, lower yourself down slowly, and return to lying on your back.
5. Chaturanga Push-up
Upper body strength is incredibly important, and chaturanga, while challenging, promotes stability in the arms, legs, and shoulders. Also toning the abdominals, this pose prepares you for more advanced poses such as arm balances or backbends.
- To first get into chaturanga, start in a plank, arms shoulder-width apart. Engage and tighten your core for the next step.
- Lower your chest while hugging in your elbows, pointing them straight back.
- Raise your body back to a plank, and repeat the process a few times, about 8-10 reps, if possible.
The Final Word on Yoga Poses to Build Muscle
There are a few more poses that are beneficial for building strength—included in that category are:
- warrior pose
- triangle pose
- boat pose
- plank pose
Regardless of what type of yoga practice you choose, Hatha, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga all have the same basic concepts. Each has a different focus, though, and what you pick will depend on your preferences.