If you’re looking for a way to tone your muscles, yoga is a great option.
Yoga can be challenging, but it’s also one of the most effective ways to gain strength and tone your muscles without lifting weights or doing repetitive calisthenic exercises. If you want to tone your upper body, yoga poses can get things done.
Yoga Poses For Toned Muscles
Here’s a look at seven such poses:
#1 Chair Pose
How to do it:
- Begin in Mountain pose (Tadasana).
- Exhale as you raise your arms over your head, bringing them together and interlocking the fingers.
- Inhale, and straighten your arms as you lean slightly forward with a flat back.
- Allow your weight to come down into a squatting position, and lower yourself till both knees are at an angle of 90 degrees. If that’s difficult for you, keep your knees bent till you build up the strength in your muscles.
#2 Warrior I
Warrior I is a yoga pose that requires a lot of strength, balance and flexibility. This pose can be done on a yoga mat or with the help of a yoga block.
Warrior I is a pose that strengthens your arms and shoulders. It’s also called the ‘warrior stance’. To perform this pose, begin by raising a leg and longing forward with it.
Keep your back arched, and raise your arms. Bring your palms together over your head, and hold for 15-30 seconds, or as long as possible.
#3 Upward Facing Dog
The Upward Facing Dog is a foundational yoga pose that’s great for building strength in your arms, shoulders and core.
It also stretches your chest muscles, which can help alleviate lower back pain. The pose resembles an inverted image of a dog stretching; it’s easy to see why. This pose is best performed after warming up with some sun salutations or other asanas (yoga postures). However, it’s also great for beginners, as it requires no previous experience or flexibility.
To do the Upward Facing Dog, begin in the Table Top position by placing your palms on the floor so that each hand rests directly beneath each shoulder joint. Next, lift your chest up into the air till it forms a diagonal line with the body; keep both legs parallel with each other throughout the entire process.
Tilt your head upward so that you’re looking toward either ceiling or sky depending on how flexible you are. Hold this position while breathing deeply through pursed lips till all those hard-earned muscles start burning like crazy.
#4 Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby)
Here’s how to do this exercise:
- Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Bring one leg up toward your chest, bending it at the knee so that your foot rests on top of or near your opposite thigh.
- The other leg can be straight or bent as well in any comfortable position for you (knees wide open or closer together). If that’s too difficult for you, bend both knees, and bring them in toward your chest instead of bringing one leg up toward the ceiling. That wiill make it easier to hold the pose while working out your muscles.
- Place a slightly rolled-up towel under each heel, if needed for comfort, and balance during the pose.
- Clasp both hands behind one knee (or both knees) above where they meet at the hipbone. You don’t need to pull very hard here – just enough so that they’re held firmly in place with no slippage.
#5 Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose)
The ‘Leg up the wall’ pose is a relaxing and effective way to stretch out your lower back, hips and hamstrings. It’s also great for relaxing your mind, and it can help you fall asleep at night.
To do this pose:
- Place a blanket on the floor next to a wall so that it’s comfortable for your body to rest against the wall in this position.
- Lie down with your back flat against the floor, and scoot down till you feel as though your butt is about two inches from the edge of the blanket as well as about two inches from where it meets with the wall (the space between should be wide enough for both feet).
- You may want to fold up an extra piece of fabric or towel, which will serve as padding between yourself and the floor. That will make lying here significantly more comfortable.
- Straighten out both legs by pressing down into each heel firmly.
- You may need someone else nearby who can support the legs while doing this step so that the legs don’t slip off position too quickly before you’re ready for the pose.
#6 Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
To do this exercise, begin in Dandasana (Staff Pose), and come onto your knees.
Bring your left leg forward; place it on the floor, and lift your right leg behind you. Bring both arms out in front of you with palms facing up. Interlace fingers with each hand around the wrist of the other hand.
Keep elbows straight but relaxed as you look over them at a point for balance (you can place a block or bolster between your elbows if it helps). Breathe deeply as you hold this pose for six to ten breaths before switching sides.
#7 Marjaryasana/Bitilasana (Cat-Cow Pose)
This pose strengthens the spine, stretches the spine and muscles, and improves digestion, and muscle toning.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists below your shoulders and knees below your hips.
- Rest your belly against the floor. Inhale as you lift up through the chest, looking up towards the ceiling or sky.
- Exhale as you round over like a cat tucking its tail under itself and bringing it closer to its body while pushing down into all four limbs (keep them straight).
- Hold for five breaths at each point of movement; repeat five times.
The yoga poses mentioned above are great for building and toning your muscles.
They’re simple enough to do at home or in the office, but they can make a big difference in your life.
Q. Do you do yoga?