Yoga is a great stress reliever and a way to focus your mind and meditate. Yoga is also great for increasing flexibility and gaining strength throughout your entire body. Your yoga instructor is a great source for poses that will help to increase the strength of the muscles. Yoga, as a holistic approach, uses weight training by its inherent nature as several poses require you to lift or balance with your own body weight as a force of resistance.
My wife has taken some yoga classes in lieu of having our second child, and it certainly did help her regain some strength and help her to relax. The trainer was very helpful in giving her tips on how to exercise and use yoga at home to help her body get back into shape. While going to classes has waned and the yoga ball stays in the garage most of the time now, occasionally I will see my wife striking a pose or two just to get the blood flowing.
Here is a quick guide to some yoga poses that will help tone your muscles. Remember that yoga is a process, and more advanced moves will first require some lower level training of your body and mind with less strenuous poses.
Doing an inversion generally makes some part of your body dependent upon your arms for upright support as opposed to your legs. Inversions also mean doing things upside down. Developing strong poses that you hold for longer and longer times will develop your muscles further. It’s almost as if you’re doing a big weight with not many reps if you were in weight training and you gradually are able to do more and more repetitions.
Inversions are great for beginners and more advanced practitioners. As you start out, make sure you are supervised to avoid any injury.
Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog is a simple pose for beginners that strengthens the whole body as getting into the pose itself causes some resistance. The pose starts by putting your hands on the floor, followed by your toes, and then reaching your buttocks straight into the air to form an inverted “v” shape.
Your arms experience resistance by supporting your body weight above the waist while your back and legs are stretched. Getting into and out of the pose will stretch your muscles and make them more flexible in the process.
A more advanced inverted pose involves a hand stand. Hand stands are great exercises for your arms as they remain in a locked position and support your entire body weight as a resistance force. You will want to use a wall for this pose.
Start with a Downward Facing Dog pose with your fingers facing a wall. The key is to spring upward by quickly putting your stronger foot on the floor and bouncing up so your back is to the wall and your arms support your entire weight.
Either of these simple poses will get your muscles working harder and more efficiently. The longer you hold the poses, the better your tone will get over time. Remember if you are new to yoga try these poses with supervision until you feel confident on doing them yourself.