How To Use Yoga For Strength Training: 5 Poses For Quick Results (Videos)

Alison Heilig
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If the thought of strength training conjures up visions of big meaty dudes with no necks, grunting as they lift insane quantities of weight on machines you’ve got no idea how to use, then listen up – this post is for you!!
 
My friends, the fact is that strength training is good and good for you for so many reasons.
 
First, strength training with resistance builds muscles and muscles are energy hogs – requiring far more calories to build and maintain than any other type of tissue. So as you build more muscle tissue, your body has to find a way to meet this increased energy demand which it does by opening up its fat stores to be used as a slow-burning and steady source of fuel. So even when you’re just sitting on the couch, you’re burning fat and your metabolism is humming. Sounds like a dream come true, right?
 
But that’s not all. It’s also a sure-fire way to make your body look and feel young while helping to avoid injuries in the future. When executed properly, resistance training moves help stabilize your body and minimize muscular imbalances created by all those repetitive movements we perform throughout our days.
 
And did I mention the confidence and body image boosting effects? If you think you saw your body differently after the first time you nailed Crow Pose, just wait until you see how capable you feel when you start seeing those strength gains.
 
But if that’s still not enough to convince you, know this – a regular strength training routine helps improve balance and coordination which, in conjunction with helping maintain strong bones, minimizes the risk of fractures resulting from falls as we age. It’s all fun and games until somebody breaks a hip, am I right?
 
So lifting weights is terrific for you and, trust me, it doesn’t have to be intimidating or scary. You can get the benefits of strength training in a non-intimidating way, I promise!
 
To prove it, I’ve come up with a few of my favorite strength moves that look an awful lot like stuff you’d see in your Power Yoga or Vinyasa Flow class.
 
You’ll need a pair of light to medium dumbbells but I’ll tell you what – in exchange – I’ll let you skip the shoes if you like – just promise that you’ll watch your toes when you’re handling weights.
 
To maximize your strength gains, do 3 sets of 8-10 reps and select a weight heavy enough that you REALLY have to work to get the last 2 reps of each set done with good form. When you can do 10 reps without much trouble, it’s time to up the weight.
 
Navasana (Bose Pose) Shoulder to Shoulder Presses

 
Virabhadrasana (Warrior) III Deadlifts

 
Utkatasana (Chair Pose) Arm Raises

 
Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) Windmills

 
Vrksasana (Tree Pose) Tricep Extensions

 
Each of these moves offers all those awesome strengthening and stretching benefits while forcing deep core engagement in order to stabilize your entire body.
 

 
The same alignment principles from your asana practice apply here as well. If you find yourself having to cheat the form, lighten the load or lose the weights altogether. It’s not worth risking injury.
 
Don’t get me wrong – yoga on it’s own can certainly be strength training; however, if you’re looking to lose a little more of “the squish” or if you want to add more lean muscle to your frame and your regular practice just isn’t getting you there, I’d suggest adding a bit more resistance and upping the intensity to see what happens.
 
Have any other awesome yoga-strength training fusion moves in your arsenal? I’d love to hear what you’ve got! Please share them in the comments below.
 

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Alison Heilig

Alison Heilig is the poster child for fitness fusion – an ultra-marathoner who loves to lift heavy stuff and practice yoga. From formerly unhealthy exercise-phobe to 70-pound lighter running coach, personal trainer, yoga teacher, fitness blogger and active adventurer, she encourages others to have fun with fitness. Check her out at mtgathletics.com and thepursuitofawesome.com

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