There are so many benefits of Yoga for the body, as well as many different types of Yoga.
If you could look into a consistent Yogi’s Yoga journal you’d find an array of experiences and benefits listed. Our favourite being the simple fact that you can walk onto your Yoga mat as a stressed out human and walk off your Yoga mat feeling completely different (different in a good, calm, present way).
The different kinds of Yoga, from Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, Power Yoga, Hot Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Flow Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga and more all provide a great movement practice and forms of exercise that can be done from home or in a studio, as well as valuable health benefits.
Depending on your style and Yoga teacher, some will feel like a cardio workout where you feel your heart rate increase (think fast Vinyasa flow), whereas others will feel gentle and restorative.
However, you may be wondering if Yoga can strengthen your muscles as much as lifting weights, given that Yoga asana (that is the Yoga poses), involves only using the body weight and sometimes, small pieces of equipment.
You might wonder: how effective is Yoga for toning? Can Yoga create a toned body? Can Yoga actually build muscle?
Toning pretty much implying a chiselled body. A body where muscles can be ‘seen’.
And we get it, we live in a society that tells us the way we look is one of the most important things about us. But really, this isn’t true. In fact, the way you look is the least interesting thing about you.
So before we tell you that yes, a Yoga practice is great for toning your body and can create muscle tone, let us first tell you that your body is already amazing.
You see, the way we practise Yoga inside MerryBody, involves a self acceptance practice as well. We’ve spent far too many years working out just to lose weight and look a certain way. We’ve struggled with body image issues and it was Yoga and Pilates that helped us change this.
Both of these practices, being body and mind connection practices, helped us realise that we are so much more than the number on the scales and the reflection that looks back at us in the mirror.
Ok, now that we’ve covered that. We can absolutely share with you some of the best Yoga poses for toning and strengthening.
And remember, to feel and create strength is so important… not for the looks but for the functionality of our bodies!
Next time you walk onto your Yoga mat, we really do encourage you to try and welcome this self accepting mindset with you. If you want to see what we’re talking about, then sign up to our Free Yoga class we have available here. When you sign up, you’ll get direct access to our Desk Worker Yoga Upper Body Yoga class. A 20 minute flow that really makes you feel great.
Yoga Poses for Toning and Strengthening
There are several Yoga poses that are going to promote muscle growth and strengthening of the muscles. Here are some of them.
Bridge Pose or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
The Bridge Pose is going to target and strengthen the muscles in your thighs and your glutes.
Your starting position should be lying on your back and with your arms flat at your sides, palms facing down.
Bend your knees, and place your feet hip width apart. Try to get your heels close to your butt (you should be able to touch them with your fingers).
Take a deep breath in, then as you exhale, press your heels into the floor to lift your lower booty, lower back and mid spine off the Earth. Press your chest toward your chin and feet into the ground.
For a bigger backbend, you can shimmy your shoulders together and intertwine your fingers underneath you.
Hold the Yoga pose for 5-10 breaths and lower your body down. Repeat 3 times.
According to Adam Perlman, M.D., an integrative health and well-being expert at Duke University, he says “Do this pose to strengthen the muscles in your thighs and your glutes”
A total body workout: feel your abductors, obliques, glutens and shoulders get a workout due to the isometric nature of this pose. That is… you hold it in stillness.
Start on all fours, hands under shoulders with your fingers spread, knees hip width apart.
Step one foot back and then the other.
Your shoulders should be stacked over your wrists while your heels press toward the back of the room. Tuck your tailbone so your butt isn’t sticking up in the air and puff up the space between your shoulder blades to make sure that your chest isn’t sinking.
Squeeze your quads and glutes and breathe. Hold for 30 seconds to 3 minutes (go you!). Repeat 3 to 5 times, rest as needed between sets.
Also known as Chaturanga, this pose is going to engage and strengthen your arms, shoulders, and core muscles (pretty much all muscle groups!) which makes it perfect for strength training and toning muscles.
You’ll usually perform this during a Vinyasa or Sun Salutation and it’s followed by an Upward Facing Dog then Downward Facing Dogs.
Watch this tutorial on Sun Salutations here:
Let us know how you go with these Yoga poses and how you feel. Know that with consistency, with practise, is where you progress.
Emma + Carla