7 Yoga Poses to Build Strength

The following poses are great for runners and cyclists who are looking to build more strength in order to maximize their performance. This is an excellent way to add some cross training into your particular sport and prevent injuries. From endurance athletes to weekend warriors these will help strengthen muscles while increasing balance and flexibility. Do this sequence a couple of times a week after an easier ride or run staying in each pose for a few breaths.

Downward Facing Dog How to:  1. Start in a high push up position with the shoulders over the wrists and feet about hips width distance apart.  2. Lift the hips up and back and press the heels towards the floor to come into an inverted “V” shape. The heels should disappear behind the toes.  3. Spread your fingers and press your palms and knuckles into the mat. Pull your navel in towards your spine and gently press your chest back towards your thighs which  4. Stay here for a few breaths and to release slowly lower your knees to the floor.  Benefits:  Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands Strengthens the arms and legs Plank 1. Start on hands and knees with shoulders over the wrists. 2. Spread your fingers and press your palms and knuckles into the mat pressing the floor away from you. 3. Tuck all ten toes under and step your feet back hips width distance part so that entire body is parallel to the floor. 4. Pull your navel in towards your spine and draw the shoulders blades away from each other lengthen your tailbone towards your heels. 5. Stay anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute and gently lower your knees back to the floor to exit the pose. Benefits:  Strengthens the arms, wrists, and spine and tones the abdomen. Side plank 1. From plank start to shift your weight into the right hand as you roll to the pinky edge side of your right foot. 2. Stack the left leg on top of the right and take the left hand either to your hip or extend the arm up towards the ceiling. 3. Engage your core and lift the hips up away from the floor. 4. Press firmly into the right hand while keeping the arm extended. 5. Stay for 30 seconds to a minute and switch sides. Benefits:  Strengthens the arms, belly, legs and core muscles.Stretches and strengthens the wrists. Improves sense of balance. High Crescent lunge 1. From a standing position, step your left foot back as much as you can. 2. Bend your right knee so it’s directly above your ankle and keep your left leg strong and active with the heel lifted away from the floor. 3. Draw the arms up and overhead while you allow your shoulders to relax into the back. 4. Pull your navel in while lengthening your tailbone towards the floor. 5. Stay for a few breaths and to release bring the hands down to frame the right foot and step the left up. Repeat on the left side. Benefits:  Stretches the groins and strengthens the legs and arms. Warrior 3 1. From high crescent lunge with right leg forward, keep your navel drawn in as you start to hinge your torso forward keeping the chest lifted. 2. Press more firmly into your right foot as you shift your weight forward lifting the left foot off the ground. 3. Begin to extend your arms directly forward as your chest and left leg become parallel with the floor while you stand on the right leg. Keep a gentle bend in the right knee to prevent from locking out in the joint. 4. Keep the front of the hips pointed down towards the ground, energize through the left leg and flex your left foot so the toes are pointing down and the heel is pressing back. 5. Stay for a few breaths and to release slowly lower left foot down to meet the right and stand tall. Benefits: Strengthens the ankles, legs, shoulders and muscles of the back and tones the abdomen. Improves balance and posture. Chair  1. Stand with feet together, toes pointing forward and stretch the arms overhead allowing the shoulders to relax down the back. 2. Start to bend the knees and send the hips back (as if sitting in a chair) keeping the tailbone reaching towards the ground and navel drawn in. 3. Shift the knees back over the ankles as much as possible and hold for a few deep breaths. The weight should be more in the heels of the feet allowing the toes to be relaxed or lifted off the ground. 4. To release, extend the knees and stand tall. Benefits: Strengthens the ankles, thighs, calves, and spine. Stretches shoulders and chest. Locust 1. Lie on your belly with the legs together and arms extending back towards feet palms facing up. Let your forehead rest on the ground to start. 2. Begin by lifting the head and chest and floating the feet off the ground. Start to lift the arms and continue reaching them back towards your feet. 3. Allow your glutes to stay relaxed and reach strongly through the legs all the way out to the toes. (If it’s too much to lift the toes, keep the feet on the ground.) 4. Stay for just a couple of breaths and slowly lower back down. Benefits: Strengthens the muscles of the spine, buttocks, and backs of the arms and legs. Stretches the shoulders, chest, belly, and thighs.

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