Yoga Positions For Strengthening the Core, Stretch and Tone Muscles

Yoga positions can strengthen the core, stretch and tone muscles. But understanding the deeper meaning behind the shapes of poses can make practicing yoga even more nourishing for the body and mind.

Standing forward bends like Rag Doll pose stretch and strengthen the hips, calves and shoulders. This beginner yoga pose can also help improve balance and concentration.

Downward-Facing Dog

Downward-Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, is a foundational yoga pose that strengthens and stretches the back of the body. It also activates the core and opens the hips.

For a fun variation on the classic Downward-Facing Dog, practice against a wall. Begin in Tabletop Pose, then walk your hands down the wall until your torso is directly stacked over the wrists and take three breaths (a).

Beginners that are unable to move their bodies into Downward-Facing Dog can use blocks under the hands, which shifts some of the weight onto the legs, which are better conditioned to support the body’s weight.

Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose is an extremely calming pose that encourages deep breathing. It helps to lower your heart rate and can even help with headaches, migraines, and PMS.

The position is also a good way to build awareness of your breath as it forces you to breathe around your ribs instead of straight into the belly. This is a very useful practice for beginners and advanced alike.

To modify the position for an easier experience, bring your knees wider apart. If you find your neck is strained, use a pillow or yoga block to take pressure off of the spine and relax the head.

Warrior II

Warrior II, also known as Virabhadrasana, strengthens the feet and ankles and the inner thighs. It also stretches the hips, chest and shoulders. This posture also helps to balance the qualities of steadiness and ease — sthira and sukha — that are needed in yoga.

Some people can struggle with the front knee falling inward, so it’s important to keep the foot stacked directly above (not in front of) the ankle. Some teachers instruct students to bend the front knee to 90 degrees but each body has its own expression of this pose.

Tree Pose

Often a challenging pose for beginners, Tree Pose (Vrksasana) builds stability and improves posture while requiring core and lat muscle strength. However, this balancing pose is much more complex than it looks.

Yoga provides us with many skills that we can use to help keep ourselves centered and balanced during life’s challenges. One of those is Tree Pose, which can be a powerful reminder that we are stronger together than alone.

Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose is a back-bending yoga pose that strengthens and tones the abdominal muscles, while opening up the chest. It also strengthens the shoulder muscles, which improves posture and reduces backaches. This pose also improves balance and stability by toning the core muscles. It also stimulates digestion, energizes the body and enhances cardiovascular health.

Bridge pose offers many variations, depending on your skill level and physical needs. Some are more challenging than others, but all will strengthen the muscles and open the chest. Always work within your limits and use props if needed.


This yoga pose is a great way to relieve backaches and stiffness. It also helps you improve your posture. It can ease hamstring pain and reduce shoulder strain, especially for individuals who spend much of their time hunched over computers or phones.

This pose can also help you maintain a healthy weight by burning belly fat and promoting abdominal circulation. It also regulates the adrenal glands and helps prevent menstrual issues in women.

Beginners can practice this position by bending forward with their knees or using a strap around their feet to make the position more comfortable. However, it is important to avoid rounding your spine while performing this posture.


Savasana, or corpse pose, is the final resting position at the end of a yoga session. It is one of the most challenging poses because it requires that the body remain completely still in a supine position.

Incorporating the corpse pose in your yoga practice can help you manage stress, lower blood pressure, and relieve tension. It also promotes deep relaxation and meditation.

Although it may seem tempting to skip the final resting pose in a yoga class, disciplining yourself to relax and meditate after vigorous exercise can lead to a better mood that lasts long after you leave the studio.