- Exercise & Fitness
Yoga for Arm Strength
Yoga Poses for Arm Strength
Yoga can be as relaxing or athletic as you wish, depending on the choice of postures, or asanas, and how many Sun Salutations you add. Thousands of years ago in India, young men training for the army or in the service of kings practiced yoga to develop their physical strength and flexibility, as well as their mental focus and character. Today, styles of yoga like Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Power yoga still emphasize the physical strength that yoga can bring.
In any strength-training program, it is important to stretch as well as strengthen, for that allows muscle fibres to lengthen so there is more room to contract in a powerful action. It is important also to breathe fully during the workout, to allow the body to metabolize wastes that accumulate in the muscles during heavy-load activities that trigger anaerobic respiration in the cells. Yoga integrates both of these key elements, stretching and breathing with awareness, into the practice. That is why many high-performance athletes like the Los Angeles Lakers in basketball,the Miami Dolphins in football, the Chicago Cubs in baseball, and Pete Sampras, Venus and Serena Williams in tennis, incorporate yoga into their training. For a list of many more, see the Holistic Medicine Resource Centre website.
Sun Salutations for all-round warm up and arm strength
To develop arm strength, warm up first with several pairs of Sun Salutations as shown in the video above. There are simpler and more advanced variations on the key 12 postures performed rhythmically with the breath. Learn an easier variation to start and then, as you are ready for more challenge, work with a more active one like the vinyasa variation which jumps the feet forward instead of stepping. Do the first set slowly, to allow the body to adjust; then as you feel heat beginning in your body, pick up the pace. Notice that the breathing is cued with the movements. It is important to follow the breathing, to prevent cramps and to benefit fully.
The video featured above shows Sun Salutations as a warm-up to a yoga practice that will develop your overall body strength, including arms, shoulders, and abs. This is targeted for people already familiar with yoga breathing and the geometry of the postures. If your level of fitness requires an easier, introductory class, or if you want a more challenging practice still, explore the resources at fitness centres and yoga studios in your own community.
Strengthen Biceps, Triceps, Pectoralis Major and Deltoid Muscles
To specifically target the biceps, triceps, pectoralis major and deltoid muscles, and to strengthen the bones of the hands and arms with weight-bearing postures on the arms, practice these arm balances. It is important to hold each posture for 5 to 10 breaths, breathing fully. Keep lifting your chest out of the shoulders. Keep unclenching your teeth and relaxing your jaw. Keep breathing. Make sure you are holding the posture without holding your breath.
Side Plank Yoga Pose
Ballet Yoga Pose
Ballet in Bow to Strengthen Arms by Including Balancing
Moving From Ballet Into a Variation of Bow
From Ballet, bring your hand to your foot, press the foot into the hand and the hand into the foot as you press the hips forward and lift the heart. Feel a deep back bend in this position, stretching and toning all the muscles and organs of the abdomen and you strengthen the arms and stretch the quadriceps down the front of the bent leg thigh.
Dolphin: Dynamic Arm-Strengthening Motion with Breath
With elbows under your shoulders and hands clasped as shown below, straighten your legs and lift your hips up and back. Look forward. As you inhale, bring your chest forward toward your thumbs and your belly almost parallel to the ground without touching. You will be holding your body weight on your elbows, hands and forearms and really working the triceps at the back of the upper arms, as well as the abs. As you exhale, press your hips up and back into the starting position like an inverted V. Repeat, synchronizing motion with breath for 5 to 20 rounds, resting in Child Pose as needed.
Dolphin Arm Strength Yoga Posture
Downward Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana
Press your hands into the floor as shown below, weight spread evenly across the palms and fingers. Lift the chest out of the shoulders. Spread your shoulder blades across your back. Lift your hips up and back by engaging your abdominal muscles to lengthen the pelvis away from the ribs. Keep pressing your heels toward the floor to deepen the stretch down the back of the legs. Hold for ten slow, deep breaths.
Downward Facing Dog Yoga Posture
Slide, or Vasisthasana in Sanskrit
To come into Slide as shown below,sit with your legs straight, and bring your hands to the floor behind you, fingers pointing back to maximize opening in the shoulders. Pointing the fingers forward is easier if you are learning the pose, but as you advance switch the placement of the hands. As you exhale, lift the hips off the floor, then hold the position and keep breathing. Each exhalation, work to lift your chest out of your shoulders and lift your heart.
Crow, or Bakasana
To learn how to come into Crow as shown below, start in a squat with your hands flat on the floor shoulder width apart and about a hand's length in front of your feet. Bend your elbows. Place each knee on each elbow. Rise up on your tip-toes and gradually shift your weight off your feet and onto your knees and elbows. Keep looking forward so you don't roll into a somersault. Keep your hands very firm, pressing all ten fingers evenly into the floor. Use your abdominal muscles to lift the weight of your hips.
With practice, you will be able to bring your weight completely onto your hands, and lift your feet up to touch your toes together.
Crow Yoga Pose, or Bakasana in Sanskrit
Depending on your fitness goals, an athletic yoga practice may be enough to develop the strength and muscle definition you want. Many high performance athletes in training for professional competition, marathons, or Ironman races incorporate yoga into their regimen as well as weight training, cardio work-outs and sport-specific practice.
For a fitness challenge that will transform your body, build lean muscle mass, and help you drop weight, look here.