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5 Yoga Poses to Build Strength

Yoga is an incredibly dynamic and versatile practice. It’s perfect if you’re looking to relax, and just as equally refreshing if you’re looking for an opportunity to build some heat and sweat. If you’re interested in building sustainable strength in your personal practice, follow along with my top five mini flows.

Upper Body: Dolphin to Chaturanga to Plank

While on your mat, start off on your hands and knees. Drop down to your forearms and plant your palms firmly. Extend your legs back behind you and tuck your toes, transitioning into a forearm plank. Keep your arms parallel to one another as you start to bend the knees and walk the feet in toward your elbows, lifting your hips up and back for dolphin pose. Hold here for two breaths, then press your chest back toward your thighs.

From dolphin, begin to shift your weight forward, lifting your elbows off the ground and tucking your elbows in toward your rib cage for Chaturanga. Reach the crown of your head forward as you draw your shoulders back. Strengthen your arms and engage your core as you press straight up to plank pose. As you lift your hips up and back into your Down Dog, drop down once again onto your forearms for dolphin pose. Repeat this cycle 10x, 3 circuits. If you’re feeling extra strong and want a challenge, reverse the flow and repeat 10x for an additional 3 circuits.

Core: Navasana (Boat Pose) to Ardha-Navasana (Low Boat Pose)

 

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Come to boat pose on your mat. Lift your feet off the ground, point your toes, hug your knees in toward your chest, and bring your hands underneath your knees. Find a tall spine, draw your shoulder blades down your back, and hold the pose. If you feel comfortable, extend your arms forward. Keep lifting your chest.

From here, extend your legs out in front of you and drop down to a low boat. Zip your legs together, keep your low back on the ground and lift your upper back away from the ground as much as you can. Scissor kick your legs from side to side 10x, and without using your hands (if possible), rock yourself back up to a high boat pose. Hold for 20 seconds, then drop back down to low boat for 10 scissor kicks. Repeat 5 times for a burn, 7 times if you want a challenge, and 10 times if you want to push your limits.

Upper Body: 3-Legged DownDog to Side Twists

Come to a Down Dog on your mat. On your inhale, lift your right leg up and back. Keep the hips square and extend through the right side of the body. Come up high onto the ball of your left foot as you lift your right leg up higher. From here, shift forward, stack your shoulders over your wrists and swing your right knee to your outer edge of your right elbow. Round your spine, hollow out your low belly, and lift your knee higher toward your right shoulder. (Optional strength builder: Bend your elbows, lower half way down into a Chaturanga and pop back up with straight arms). From here, extend your right leg up and back, bend the knee and drop your heel, moving into a scorpion Down Dog.

Take a breather.

Straighten out your right leg to square off the hips, come up high onto the ball of the left foot, and swing your knee to the outer edge of the left elbow. Take a breath and lift it up higher toward the left shoulder. Option to drop down to your Chaturanga and pop back up again. Extend your right leg up and back, squaring off through the shoulders. One last time, send the knee forward to the nose, rounding your spine and pressing your upper back toward the ceiling. Repeat this cycle 5x on each side, 3 circuits.

Upper Body: Forearm Plank Push Ups

Start on your hands and knees. Drop down to your elbows, make sure your hands can reach your elbows. From here, interlace your hands in front of you and press them firmly into the mat. Slide your feet back and tuck your toes to lift the hips up for a strong forearm plank. Press down into your forearms and draw your low belly in for a tight core.

From here, sink your chest down toward the ground, collapsing between your shoulder blades. This is basically the opposite of what you would normally do in your forearm plank. After you let all of your upper body weight sink down (while maintaining a strong core and a flat back) press down through your forearms to lift your chest away from the ground, pressing your heart through your upper back. Repeat this for 3 reps of 60 seconds each, and your shoulders and upper body will be on fire!

Lower Body: Warrior 1 Variation to Warrior 3 to Reversed Warrior 1

Find your alignment for a strong Warrior 1. Start with the right foot forward with your ankle over the knee and your back heel down at a 45 degree angle. Reach both arms out in front of you, interlace your fingers, and point your index finger forward for kali mudra. Draw your shoulder blades down your back and start to reach your fingertips forward leaning all of your upper body weight forward over your right thigh with your chest hovering over your thigh. Continue to draw your right hip back. This is a huge strength builder for the quads! Hold here for 20 seconds (Option to close the eyes for more of a challenge).

After 20 seconds, lift your back heel off the ground and start to lean forward into your  Warrior 3. If keeping the arms forward is too much, you can bring your hands to your heart. Hold here for 2 breaths, then softly bend into your right leg to step back into your Warrior 1 and reverse it. Extend your right arm up and overhead as you drop the left hand down the back leg toward the ground. Keep bending generously into your front knee. Repeat this cycle 3 times on each side. Stay on the same side to feel the burn, or alternate if you need a break!

About the Author:

Aurora has been teaching & studying yoga in Portland & San Francisco for the past 6 years. She creates light-hearted, all-levels classes with an emphasis on strength, alignment, creative sequencing, vulnerability, and authenticity. Aurora teaches for NIKE and has worked with Lululemon, WeWork, Relay for Life, and dozens of companies & organizations around the country. As the Founder of Rooted & Rising, she blends her background in mindfulness & her passion for mental health advocacy through personal stories & yoga guides for anxiety & depression. Her goal in openly sharing her struggles with mental health is to connect with others and de-stigmatize the culture & conversation surrounding mental illness. You can connect with Aurora and download free yoga guides and resources on her website, therootedandrising.com

Instagram: @auroralyrayoga

 

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