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How to do Push-Ups in Yoga

Updated on April 8, 2021
LilianeNajm profile image

Yoga Wellness Educator. Hatha yoga, meditation, Pilates, Reiki. Oracle card reader. Gateway Dream Guide. Yoga Therapy Foundation program.

Image by bgs_digital_creator from Pixabay
Image by bgs_digital_creator from Pixabay

Push up Enhance Health and Vitality

Special yoga sequences are used to strengthen weak muscles and stretch tight muscles. The yoga practitioner and yoga teacher work together to find the optimal yoga sequence according to one’s health and muscle strength.

Push ups and the plank pose are both great exercises for your core but have two different targets. Push ups are done to increase muscular endurance and strength. The plank pose is done primarily to increase core stability.


  1. Get down on your hands and knees on a yoga mat.The palms are placed directly under the shoulders so that your elbows are tucked close to your sides.
  2. Lift your knees up and take your feet back to have your body in a straight line. Your weight is distributed between your hands and your toes. The weight on your hands is on the four borders of each hand and the webs between the thumb and the index. Imagine that you have a square on the palm of each hand, and you are distributing your body weight between the four sides of each square.
  3. When your body is in a straight line, engage fully the core as you keep the back straight. Your core is engaged when all the layers of the abdominal muscles are working together with muscles that line your spine. You want to feel your abdominal muscles (abs) tightening and pulling in, but you should still be able to move and breathe in a normal way.
  4. Flex the elbows. Keep your elbows close to your body (not opened to the side).
  5. Bring the chest as close to the floor as you can without resting it on the floor.
  6. Push back up moving just the arms and keeping the body in a straight line.
  7. Make sure to keep the spinal curves in a neutral position as if you are standing.

It is important to build up to this exercise and to do it in a correct way so you can reduce the risk of injury.

Three Common Mistakes

The three common mistakes when doing push-ups are: 1) the up and down movement is done by moving the shoulders up and down; 2) the arms are kept almost straight during the movement; and 3) the quads are not engaged.

You must lift your thighs away from the floor as you stretch your heels away from the crown of your head so that your lower body picks up half the work.

When we do push-ups, we want to strengthen the pectoral muscles (pecs). When we push-up by just moving the shoulders up and down, we are in fact working the serratus anterior which is the muscle that abducts the scapula, but not the pecs that we want to target.


  • Keep your knees on the floor if you do not yet have enough muscle strength. This reduces the weight and helps you to do the movement in an appropriate way. As you progress, you will then be able to do the exercise with legs straight. Whichever approach you take, keep a straight back and neutral curves. Keep all the core muscles engaged as you lift up.
  • Wide-Grip Push-Up. The chest is the target area of this variation. Start from the normal push-up posture but spread the hands out so you have a hand-to-hand space wider than the standard shoulder-to-shoulder length.


Push-ups train and strengthen your whole body in one exercise. When done in the proper way, they can also strengthen the lower back and core by pulling in the abdominal muscles. This enhances health and vitality.

They help to burn calories because more muscle are used during the movement. The body needs more energy to do the movements and so burn more calories.

They improve the functioning of the cardio-vascular system. Large muscle groups are involved when you do push-ups, which forces the heart to do more work to pump blood to these muscles.

They can be adapted for beginners. They are still a favorite among advanced yoga practitioners. It is better for your body to start slow and work to push up the right way. You want to avoid doing movements that cause injury and fail to strengthen your muscles with success.

You do not need any equipment. You just use your body and your weight, and it can be done anywhere.

Muscles Involved

The target muscle is the Pectoralis Major (the pecs).

The synergistic muscles are the Anterior Deltoid, Triceps, Serratus Anterior, Parochialism, and the Biceps Brackish.

The stabilizers are the Abdominal muscles, Hip Flexors, and the core muscles.


Avoid what causes or increases pain.

Stop doing a pose if you feel a sharp sensation in your joints.

Stop doing a pose if you feel a sharp, shooting sensation down the limbs.

Avoid what causes numbness in the limbs.

Avoid what makes you painful when you feel you cannot breathe well.

Just because we all have differently shaped bones and bodies, not all postures will look the same for everybody. Some postures may or may not be accessible without modifications.

Stop doing a pose when you feel dizzy.

Follow your doctor's orders. After surgery, ask your doctor what you can do and when.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Liliane Najm


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