Article by Jahnavi Patwardhan
We are witnessing a wave of change in the perspective of individuals towards fitness. While the earlier health targets were restricted to weight loss and body toning, today we observe the focus shifting to building body strength and improving stability. A lot of people might not feel instantly drawn towards yoga, especially when it comes to building strength. The popular choice for strength still remains weight training. Sarva yoga is here to support and nurture the steadily growing curve of individuals leaning towards yoga for strength & stability.
In yoga, an individual utilizes their own body weight and can target even the smallest stabilizing muscle in the human body, which are otherwise easily missed in other forms of weight training. Yoga poses use isometric and unconventional contractions, a type of muscle contraction in our human body, to strengthen a muscle as it stretches. The asanas also build focus as the practitioner concentrates on holding a pose, thus increasing balance and stability by building a mind-muscle connection.
Include the following recommended asanas to achieve body strength & stability:
A. Utkatasana or the Chair Pose
This asana might look easy but requires tremendous effort to hold the pose for even a minimum of 20 counts. The pose works great to increase strength and improve body stability and balance. It works on strengthening the thigh region; the glutes, the knees, calves and ankles thus proving to be a great lower body exercise.
B. Bakasana or the Crane / Crow Pose
This asana can be categorized as an intermediate-level one and serves as a great balancing act. This asana requires you to have a strong upper body strength and an active core. Once attained successfully, Bakasana strengthens the wrists and the abdominal core region. The crane or the crow pose is also a great asana to tone and strengthen the shoulders and arms.
C. Navasana or the Boat Pose
Navasana works wonders for the core region. It results in the toning and strengthening of the core area and also works on the lower back muscles. The pose also enables the strengthening and stretching of the spine. In addition to strengthening the abdominal muscles, Navasana also improves digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive juices.
D. Setu Bandh Asana or the Bridge Pose
The Sethu Bandh works wonderfully on the hips, thighs, stomach, and back. Additionally, it strengthens the hamstring and the glutes. The pose also engages the core to stabilize the spine as it moves into extension. The Bridge Pose is a wholesome strength building and stability-gaining pose.
E. Vrikshasana or The Tree Pose
Vrikshasana is all about focus and balance. It is a simple asana that resembles the posture of a tree. The asana helps one in building concentration and stability of the body. The beginner level Hatha Yoga pose should be done at least for a minute every morning with a 30-second hold on each foot. To challenge yourself a step further, try the Vrikshasana with your eyes closed.
To sum up, even though weight training, crossfit etc are great ways to build muscle mass or bulk up, the quiet strength that yoga builds with lean and supple muscles can last you a lifetime. It's an added bonus that yoga does wonders for your mental health as well!