Increase Muscle Strength with 2 Yoga Poses

If you’ve been following your exercise plan for a while, you should have already started enjoying some benefits. For example-weight loss, an increase in muscle tone, and feeling healthier in your mind and body.

But after a while, you may feel as though your progress has stalled – or you may just be becoming bored with your usual routine. So why not consider introducing a couple of new elements to your plan? Such as changing your diet to include protein shakes, or even trying some yoga.

Even if you have tried yoga before, there are some specific poses which will help you to increase muscle strength in defined areas. These aren’t generally recommended for beginners, so if you haven’t done any yoga before, it’s worth getting a grip on some basic poses first.

Then, when you’re feeling confident, try including these two poses in your workout.

Downward facing dog
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  • Downward facing dog pose or Adho Mukka Svanasana

This pose can help to build arm muscles and strength. I like it to stretch out my calves, too!

With your feet hip-width apart, hinge your body at your waist, and lean the top half of your body forwards so that your hands are flat on the floor, and your bottom is in the air. Your legs should be as straight as possible. Your hands should be at one end of your yoga mat, and your feet at the other end.

If you find it difficult or uncomfortable to keep your heels on the floor, just raise them slightly, so that your weight is on your toes and the front part of your foot. As your flexibility increases, try and lower your heels to the floor as this will stretch out your calf muscles.

Bakasana (view 2)
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  • Crow pose or Bakasana

This is an arm balance pose and can be a little tricky at first. I am still struggling with this! Make sure you are fully warmed up and wearing comfortable clothes, such as black yoga pants as it is an active pose.

Squat on the floor with your knees apart and your elbows resting inside your knees. Place your hands on the floor at about shoulder width apart.  Spread your fingers wide to give you more stability. If you are just starting to use this pose, you may find turning your hands in towards each other helps with your balance.

Place your knees on your triceps. To move into the pose, bend your elbows slightly, lift up onto your toes, and then move your weight forwards. Try to position your knees onto your triceps.

If you’re finding it tricky to move into the pose, try putting a block or raised platform under your feet. This can help you get your knees into the right position with your upper arms.

Shift your weight by leaning your knees into your triceps and moving up onto the balls of your feet. Slowly lift one foot off the ground, then the other. Don’t rush.

Once you are in position, look forward. This will help with your balance, as if you try to look at your feet or arms you will fall over. If the fear of falling forwards is holding you back, just place a pillow or blanket in front of you.

Now, try and straighten your arms and round out your back. You will probably only be able to hold the pose for a few seconds at first. As you progress, try and straighten your arms as much as possible, pull your abdominal muscles in and hold the pose for longer.


Weekly Workout Wrap-up

I totally stole this idea from someone else’s blog…but I can’t remember which blog it was. If it was yours, THANKS!

Monday – I usually do C210K on Mondays, but after the race on Sunday I wasn’t feeling it. I went to a hatha yoga class at my gym and boy did I need that stretching. Then I did P90X Back&Biceps. I moved the peg down on the assisted pull-up machine, so I’m slowly-but-surely getting stronger.
I skipped abs and walked 3 miles home.

Tuesday – Brazil Butt Lift Bum Bum. If I were doing the entire BBL program, I’d have done another workout along with it, and I just can’t even imagine how. Bum Bum really kicks my Bum Bum.

Wednesday – C210K Week 5, Day 2. I wasn’t feeling it, but somehow I managed to finish it and run at 6.0. The feeling afterward is what keeps me going. Still don’t like running.
Then it was time for P90X Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps (aka the Most Humbling of All P90X workouts). A respectable 10 plyo push-ups (on my knees), but not a lot of progress on the weights or other exercises.
I did a couple of Blogilates videos and took the bus home since it was raining.

Thursday – I did my old Denise Austin yoga/mat pilates workout DVD, an old favorite. I like her baby talk in these two workouts; it makes them seem easier. I also walked ~5 miles.

denise austin

Friday – Back to the gym for C210K, Week 5 Day 3. This was a straight 20-minute run. I put my iPod on the treadmill and watched the Suze Orman Show while running. I started at 6.0, but after 5 minutes dropped down to 5.0. 5 minutes later, I went up to 5.5 for 5 minutes, then I finished out with 5.0. I guess I’m not yet at the point where I can maintain a faster pace, but still working on it. Or maybe I could have and just didn’t push myself enough? Not sure.
Then it was P90X Legs & Back, my least favorite workout. I modified this quite a bit for gym suitability (no way I’m doing the Groucho walk around in the gym).
A couple of Blogilates videos and a 3-mile walk home.

Saturday – Lots of Heavy Lifting in preparation for the move. That counts as a workout, right?!


WOTD – P90X Yoga

My guy suggested we do yoga today. We don’t do it nearly enough, and it really is important to overall fitness. We did pretty well, I think. I’m on the flexible side, but Yoga X isn’t about flexibility alone – it’s about being flexible while holding your own body weight for prolonged periods. That’s the tough part.

Yoga X

Daniel Haas is my hero in this video. While the rest of the cast breezes through the poses and movements, he’s struggling along. He’s hanging in there and working hard, so we can too.

Coincidentally, Pam the Blam tweeted about Yoga X today advising people not to give up!