The intricate working mechanism of a human body is composed of about 700 muscles organized for the healthy movement of its internal and external mechanism. Anatomically, the muscles in the head and neck are responsible for their movements, speech, facial expressions; muscles of the upper back and chest are important for controlling the motions and vital functions of the upper body; muscles of the abdomen and pelvis play a critical role in protecting the delicate parts of the abdominal cavity and muscles of the leg and foot play a balancing and supporting role.
In whole, the muscular system plays a major role in the well-being and optimal functioning of the body. Therefore, doctors and health professionals highly recommend strength training as an integral part of the fitness routine.
The science of yoga employs the method of yoga poses for stretching the muscles and developing functional strength to assisting the practitioners in safe daily movements like bending, lifting, walking, etc. The emphasis on isometric and eccentric contractions during the yoga practices effectively strengthens the muscles. Also, the systematized performance of yoga postures relies on the body as its ‘weight’ and targets the muscles that are otherwise overlooked in other forms of strength training.
Let’s look at the five best yoga poses for strong muscles along with their steps and specific benefits.
1. Chair Pose (Utkatasana): Chair Pose is designed for developing a powerful muscular system in the legs by contracting the hip flexors, quadriceps, glutes, and adductors. The pose also builds strength in the trunk by engaging the front body muscles.
Steps: Enter into a chair pose in a standing position with feet together. Take a deep breath. Reach the arms upward towards the ceiling and sit back as if sitting on an imaginary chair. Shift the weight away from the toes to prevent stress on the knees. Keep the legs strong and hold the pose for five breaths. Slowly release the pose and come into a standing position.
2. Boat Pose (Navasana): Practice boat pose for strengthening the rectus abdominis of the core, the hip flexors, quadriceps, and erector spinae muscles of the back.
Steps: Start the Navasana in a seated position on a yoga mat. Legs straight and hands on the ground behind the hips. Bend the knees. Lift the feet off the floor and strongly engage the thigh muscles to straighten the legs. Keep the toes above the eye level. Reach the arms forward and roll the shoulder blades down from the ears. Stay in this pose for at least 30 seconds.
3. Forearm Plank (Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana): Forearm plank is an overall muscle strengthening posture that conditions the muscles of the spine, abdominis, shoulders, calves, chest, and thighs.
Steps: Begin in a tabletop position. Come on your forearms and pull your front ribs in. Place the hands shoulder-width apart. Tuck the toes, extend the legs backward (one at a time) and lengthen the tailbone. Keep the hips low but do not collapse them into the lower back. The body should be parallel to the floor. Look down at the ground. Hold this pose for 20 seconds or more as per your flexibility.
4. Bridge Pose (Setu-Bandhasana): Bridge pose strengthens the muscles of the hips, glutes, and hamstrings. It engages the core muscles as well as stabilizes the spine.
Steps: Lie on your back with feet hip-distance apart. Take a bend at the knees and place the heels close to the hips. Inhale and lift the hips in an upward direction. Clasp the palms underneath the lower back and firm the shoulder blades against the back to open the chest. Hold the pose for 6-9 long breaths.
5. Locust Pose (Salabhasana): This pose targets the posterior muscles (hamstrings, spinal muscles, glutes). Additionally, it opens the shoulders and chest.
Steps: Come into the prone position. Rest the forehead on the ground and internally rotate the thighs. Exhale, raise the upper body (head, torso, chest, arms) and legs of a yoga mat. Only lower ribs, front pelvis, and stomach will rest on the ground. Elongate the back legs and stretch the arms forward. Gaze slightly upwards. Hold this pose for 10-15 seconds.
You can have too much fat, but you can never have too much muscle, unless it has been artificially synthesized or strengthened is what the experts quote.
Hence, Mat-on! Get stronger with a dedicated sequence of yoga asanas for strong muscles.
To know about these yoga poses in further detail, explore our Yoga Teacher Training In India.