5 Simple Yoga Exercises to Stretch and Strengthen
Yoga is not one of the first forms of exercise that comes to your mind when you think about strength. Most people believe that weight-lifting and training at the gym helps you to gain strength. Weight-lifting might help you get bulked up or get those 8-pack abs, but true strength involves much more than that. Yoga focuses more on everyday activities like bending over, lifting, walking, sitting down and standing up by using both isometric and eccentric contractions to simultaneously strengthen a muscle as it stretches and creates functional strength. Yoga uses our own body weight to strengthen the muscles and involves various forms of stretching exercises to attain flexibility.
Here, we will discuss 5 simple yoga exercises which will help you in strengthening your body and living a healthy life:
- Chair Pose (Utkatasana): The chair pose focuses on hip flexors, glutes, adductors and quadriceps which help to provide strength in the legs. To perform this pose, you can begin by standing erect with your feet placed together. Stretch your hands to the front with palms facing downwards, bend the knees as if you are sitting in an imaginary chair, sit straight and lengthen your spine. Hold for five breaths and then release and come back to the standing position.
- Boat Pose (Navasana): In the boat pose, the focus is on the rectus-abdominus (6-pack muscle) along with the strengthening of hip flexors, quadriceps and erector spinae muscles of the back. For performing this asana, you require certain core strengths. You need to sit on your buttock with the legs stretched out in the front. After that, you need to bend your knees and lift your feet off the ground, lengthen your spine and try to lift your feet using the strength of thigh muscles. Reach and stretch your arm along with the raised legs. Hold the pose for 5-8 breaths and then ease back on the ground slowly.
- Locust Pose (Salabhasana): The locust pose works as an overall body strengthening asana that relieves fatigue and tension in the back. It strengthens the vertebral columns, shoulder, hips and arms. To perform this pose, you have to lay on the floor with your torso facing downwards and raise your legs and arms above the ground parallelly. Hold the pose for 5-8 breaths and then ease back on the ground.
- Crane Pose (Bakasana): The crane pose is a balancing pose that focuses on strengthening the abdominal organs and wrists. To perform this asana, one needs to sit in a squatting position, and then lift the legs up from the squatting position by bending your torso forward and holding the raised body midair by balancing on the wrists placed on the floor in between the inner thighs. Hold the pose for 4-5 breaths and then ease back to initial squatting position.
- Triangle Pose (Trikonasana): Triangle pose is a lower body strengthening asana and focuses on the strength of legs, knees, thighs, hips, calves, buttocks and ankles. This pose is performed to make the lower body as strong as the upper part of the body. To perform this pose, a person needs to stand with legs stretched apart at a one-arm distance. Then, the right foot is turned outside at a 90 degrees angle, and the horizontally stretched arm make a vertical line when you bend on the right at the hip with your face looking upwards. This position makes a perfect triangle or trikon. Hold the pose for 5-8 breaths and then ease back in the initial position.
All the aforementioned yoga exercises focus on the strengthening of individual body parts. Explore the various types of poses to find the one that best meets your physical needs, so that you can benefit from yoga stretching. Yoga poses increase your strength and flexibility levels by placing your body in unusual positions for extended periods of time. They contribute to overall body strength in a manner that is long-lasting, natural and healthy.