Yoga poses require a surprising amount of strength. From twisting to back bending, the exercises strengthen muscles and improve posture and balance. This helps the body spend more time in the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
Bridge pose builds upper back strength to counteract hours spent parked at the desk. A variation of the Cobra pose, low bridge offers beginners a gentle way to explore backbends without straining.
The head to knee yoga pose or Janu Sirsasana is a forward-bending posture that opens the chest and back. It also helps to strengthen the hips and thighs. The pose can be a challenge for beginners as it requires a lot of practice and patience. But once mastered, the asana reduces anxiety levels of the body and mind.
The asana also stimulates the pancreas, spleen, and kidneys. It improves their function and prevents diseases associated with them, such as bloating and constipation. It also brings in fresh blood to the diaphragm, which helps the lungs work better. This pose is a good option for women who have menstrual cramps and heaviness in the abdomen. It is also helpful for people who have back pain and a tight lower back.
Pyramid Pose (also known as Intense Side Stretch Pose) strengthens the legs and feet, stretches the hip muscles and back, and improves balance. It also stimulates the abdominal organs and aids digestion. It is a difficult balance pose because it requires balancing forward bending and backward bending at the same time, but it can be made easier with consistent practice.
Start by standing with your feet hips width apart and facing the short edge of your mat. Place the front foot on top and the back foot behind it, ensuring that both heels are aligned with one another.
The arms can be clasped behind the back in reverse prayer or, if your shoulders are mobile enough, bring the palms together to rest on opposite elbows. Alternatively, you can release your hands to the floor.
Extended Side Angle
Extended Side Angle Pose, also called Utthita Parsvakonasana or Urdhva Dhanurasana is a full body stretch and strengthening pose that strengthens the legs and back leg while stretching the hips and sides of the torso. The pose activates the heart chakra and helps to promote balance, compassion, and awareness.
It’s important not to lock the elbows in this pose as it puts too much stress on the shoulder joint and decreases the strength-building potential. Beginners can rest the upper arm on a block or the front knee to support the pose.
To practice this posture start in Warrior II and then extend the left hand on the floor or a block besides your front foot. Move the torso to the right over the front foot and twist the shoulders.
Chaturanga (cha-thur-anga dandasana) looks like a low pushup, but this pose requires a significant amount of strength to lower the body from plank pose toward the floor. This is often an area of challenge for beginner yogis, or those managing shoulder and wrist issues.
Proper form is important, and even experienced yogis can experience some discomfort in the shoulders when this posture is not performed correctly. Thankfully, there are some modifications to this yoga exercise that can help to alleviate these issues.
Try lowering down onto a bolster for a simple and effective way to build strength in your arms and shoulders without straining the joints of the upper body. This modification is a great way to strengthen this yoga pose while building up the confidence and strength required to eventually move into a full Chaturanga.
Triangle Pose, also known as Utthita Trikonasana, is a calming pose that reduces stress and strengthens the legs and back. It also helps reduce lower back pain, indigestion and headaches.
It’s important to note that this is a side stretch, not a backbend, and students should always practice within their limits. Those with neck injuries should avoid turning the head to look upward and those with high blood pressure should not bend their front knee.
It’s common to mistakenly set the stance too wide in this posture, but keeping the feet a hip’s width apart will help prevent hyperextending. For stability, students can rest the bottom hand on a block or the big toe of the back foot. The top arm can hover above the floor, rest on the shin or ankle, or be wrapped around the chest to deepen the stretch.