How to Build Strength with Your Yoga Practice – Daily Cup of Yoga

By Kyle Shrivastava

When individuals take into consideration yoga, power isn’t all the time the very first thing that involves thoughts. However this doesn’t imply it might’t or shouldn’t be part of your apply!

Conventional asana practices typically function lengthy holds (which construct endurance) and passive stretching (which will increase passive flexibility). Nonetheless, as yoga evolves we’re seeing a shift in the direction of constructing energy and growing energetic flexibility by dynamic motion. Maybe essentially the most distinct shift is the power that yogis at the moment are cultivating. That is partly spearheaded by yogi’s bringing in classes and information from different athletic disciplines akin to dance, martial arts, and calisthenics. 

The bodily apply of yoga is definitely fairly well-suited for power constructing for 2 causes. The primary is that it makes use of repetition. After we repeat a movement, whether or not or not it’s a Chaturanga or Warrior II, we progressively fatigue our muscular tissues which permits them to develop again stronger. Secondly, every posture in yoga has quite a few modifications that permit us to make it simpler or harder. Due to this fact, as yogis construct power, it’s straightforward to seek out extra demanding and tough progressions that can permit us to proceed that development. By using fame and adaptation, we’re in a position to obtain the principal of progressive overhead (i.e. growing demand on the musculoskeletal system to realize power, dimension, and endurance) simply as we’d in every other athletic self-discipline.

Nonetheless, gaining power in yoga requires us to truly incorporate rules from train science into our method to structuring our yoga apply. So let’s talk about how learnings from gymnastics and power coaching may also help us create yoga flows that construct power (and permit us to grasp enjoyable new abilities). 

The Science

To in a short time summarize (earlier than we get into what all of it truly means) –– to realize power with yoga, we first want to consider how power is constructed. Let’s attempt to simplify this as a lot as potential.

Train science tells us that power is the same as neural diversifications –– how our physique responds to stimulus, plus cross sectional muscle development –– the dimensions of our muscular tissues (Lowe, 2016). The previous is extra influential on our total power (Nathaniel et al, 2017). When speaking about neural diversifications, we will assume when it comes to motor items (motor neurons despatched by the mind to the muscular tissues), and the kind of muscle fibers being activated. The 2 ends of the motor unit spectrum are Low Threshold Motor Items (LTMUs) and Excessive Threshold Motor Items (HTMUs). LTMUs correspond with sluggish twitch, endurance targeted muscle fibers and take a weaker electrochemical mind sign to activate. HTMUs correspond with power and energy. These innervate quick twitch muscle fibers and are activated by a higher-intensity electrical impulse within the mind. Put merely, which means that if we wish to achieve power (and nail that press to handstand), we want sufficient stress to activate HTMUs and quick twitch muscle fibers. Nonetheless with me? Nice, let’s get began!

Placing this into apply

First, let’s get this out of the way in which–-building power won’t make you overly muscular or essentially lower your flexibility (except you’re solely tossing barbells overhead within the weight room). So get that powerlifter picture out of your head, and assume extra in regards to the lean and muscular physique of a gymnast or circus performer. 

So how can we do it? And the way will this be totally different than how yoga is often practiced? Listed here are a number of concepts? 

  1. Start with a warm-up that doesn’t kill you. 

The concept behind this method is that a part of your strength-based yoga apply goes to be placing a heavier-than-usual stress on the physique, which implies it’s important to heat up completely with out losing vitality or exhausting your self. Simply heat up till your coronary heart price is elevated and also you’re sweating calmly. This might imply a number of Solar Salutations, or brief stream like certainly one of these

2) Do some skill-based work first.

Making an attempt to nail Eka Pada Bakasana (one-legged crow) or a freestanding handstand? Do it after your warm-up. That is going to be the time when you’ve got essentially the most vitality and focus to work on skill-based actions. In yoga, we regularly put these difficult positions as peak poses on the finish of a apply. Whereas not essentially dangerous, this doesn’t permit us to method them with our full potential since we’re typically already exhausted.

Please be aware that there are two exceptions to this method. Firstly, should you’re engaged on drills to help tough postures (i.e. handstand holds towards the wall, and so forth.), try this after your ability work. Secondly, should you’re engaged on positions that primarily require flexibility (versus power or stability), place these later in apply when you’ve spent extra time opening up.

3) Add some strength-based work early on.

After warming up and dealing abilities, now’s the time in your power work. Among the finest methods to do that is with a brief however difficult (assume very difficult) stream that you would be able to repeat 1-3 occasions. After every repetition of the stream, take an extended relaxation in Childs pose. Make the issue of this mini-flow match your (or your college students) stage, whereas throwing in a single or two “attain” actions or postures. You/they may finally adapt to the problem. For an instance of a difficult strength-focused stream for intermediate-advanced practitioners, take a look at a “Tremendous Human” Energy sequence here.

4) Transfer by the remainder of your common apply after power work.

After having used your most power in your mini-flow, be happy to maneuver by the remainder of your apply as you often would. This might deal with extra dynamic motion, sluggish endurance-focused postures, breath work, or no matter different priorities you’ve got. 

5) Finish with further mobility and adaptability work.

Because you’re placing an additional stage of stress on the physique throughout your tough strength-focused stream, you should definitely finish by giving these elements of the physique just a little further love. For those who have been hand-balancing, open up the wrist joints. For those who have been working the core, take a while in Sphinx pose. The additional work means you’ll want just a little further cool all the way down to guarantee that you simply’re in a position to keep away from damage and sustain along with your apply. 

Yogi’s are in a position to accomplish some wonderful feats. However to take action, we’ve got to be experimental and scientific about our method to apply. A part of this needs to be drawing on what we all know from different disciplines. Gaining power in yoga isn’t tough. Nonetheless, it does require us to construction our flows in order that we explicitly carry out strength-focused motion on the proper occasions, whereas utilizing repetition, and adapting to make use of progressively tougher variations of every posture as we develop.

Hopefully, these fast ideas may also help you alongside your journey? Have you ever tried our (or an analogous) method? Tell us about your expertise! 

Editor’s be aware: This can be a visitor put up by Kyle Shrivastava. Kyle is a yoga instructor based mostly in Washington D.C. and co-founder of, a useful resource web site for brand spanking new and aspiring yoga academics. Kyle is licensed in yoga anatomy and works to showcase the various numerous choices yoga can present from power, to purposeful mobility, to meditative focus.


Low, S. (2016). Half 1. In Overcoming gravity: A scientific method to gymnastics and body weight power. Houston, TX: Battle Floor Inventive. 

Nathaniel D. M. Jenkins, Amelia A. Miramonti, Ethan C. Hill, Cory M. Smith, Kristen C. Cochrane-Snyman, Terry J. Housh, Joel T. Cramer. Better Neural Variations following Excessive- vs. Low-Load Resistance Coaching. Frontiers in Physiology, 2017; 

Picture by Ginny Rose Stewart on Unsplash

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