Yoga Moves to Strengthen Your Body

yoga moves

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced athlete, yoga poses help improve balance, flexibility and strength. Performing the basic yoga moves helps strengthen muscles that can improve your posture and reduce injuries, says Dr. Soffer.

This balancing pose opens the chest and shoulders while stretching the hips. It also strengthens the legs and ankles.

Downward Facing Dog

The Downward Facing Dog helps to relieve stress, improves digestion and strengthens the back, arms, shoulders and legs. It also stimulates the brain, improving memory, concentration and eyesight. It is typically used for a pause in sun salutations and vinyasa flows.

To practice the pose correctly, beginners should be mindful of their feet positioning. It is important for the feet to be placed hip distance apart, not as wide as the mat. This will prevent the lower back from tightening, as well as reduce strain on the wrists and hands. For those with poor wrist or hand strength, it is possible to come down onto the forearms instead of the palms.

Mountain Pose

A fundamental yoga posture, Mountain Pose (Tadasana) sets the stage for the rest of your practice. It strengthens your legs and ankles, stretches the calf muscles and tones the shins and feet. It also improves your balance and posture.

Encourage students to keep their back straight and their torso elongated, and to use their arms to help them hold the pose. Ask them to notice if they are pronating or supinating their feet, or if their knees are locked, which can cause pain and damage to the joints.

This pose is helpful for people with pulmonary conditions, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Ankylosing Spondylitis, as it opens the lungs. It is also a good pose for seniors and pregnant women, as it helps them balance.

Pyramid Pose

Pyramid pose, or Parsvottanasana, strengthens and stretches the hips and hamstrings. It is an excellent pose to help those with tight hamstrings because it prevents the pelvis from tucking forward, which is common with other standing poses and causes stress on the back and knees.

The balancing act of Pyramid Pose requires patience and concentration. It helps develop grace that endures. This pose also stimulates the abdominal organs and improves digestion.

This pose is more challenging than other standing poses because the feet are closer together than in Warrior I or Triangle Pose. Those with hip or knee injuries can modify this pose by placing blocks under their hands to support the back foot.

Warrior II

The Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) is a standing yoga pose that strengthens the legs, core, hips and shoulders. It also stretches the ankles, calves and groin. It is an energising yet calming pose as it cultivates strength and stability.

This yoga pose represents the rage of the mythical warrior Virabhadra and is a powerful stretch for the legs, groins and chest. It also improves posture long term and increases stamina.

Some teachers advise that the front knee should be parallel to the floor, but this is a subjective guide and each body has its own expression in Warrior 2. You can use a wall for support if you find it difficult to bend the back leg.

Cat-Cow Stretch

This simple movement, also known as Bitilasana, not only improves posture and balance but also helps relieve back pain by increasing spine flexibility. It also stretches the muscles of the hips, shoulders, and chest. It can even reduce bloating by massaging the abdominal organs and improving digestion.

This calming pose combines spinal flexion and extension as you alternate between Cat Pose and Cow Pose. This synchronized breath movement increases coordination, fosters intentional focus, and invigorates prana. It also reduces stress by activating the parasympathetic nervous system that promotes rest and digest. The calming effect is increased when done for a minute or more.

Wall Pose

Known in Sanskrit as Viparita Karani, this restorative yoga pose promotes blood flow to the brain and relieves fatigue and headaches. It also helps prevent lower back pain, according to a small 2019 study.

The pose reverses the downward force of gravity on your legs and feet, improving lymphatic and venous fluid movement. This reduces swelling of the ankles and feet and alleviates low back pain.

In addition, extended time in the posture stimulates your parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous response. This improves digestion and can help you fall asleep at night. It also eases insomnia, stress and anxiety. The position also relaxes the neck and shoulders, reducing a hunched back or drooping shoulders.