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7 Effective Yoga Poses for Muscle Building

Published on Jan 18, 2021


By Dr. Surya Bhagwati
Chief In- House Doctor
BAMS, DHA, DHHCM, DHBTC | 30+ Years of Experience

7 Effective Yoga Poses for Muscle Building

Yoga probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of muscle building or strength training. In fact, muscle building is most associated with weight training and resistance training, while yoga is mainly associated with gentle stretching and increased flexibility. However, this is simply a problem of perception as yoga is known to be great for strengthening the body and building muscles. Of course, the benefits of your yoga workout will largely depend on the asanas that you include and the intensity of your workout. 

Here are some of the best yoga poses for muscle building, with the focus being on simple poses that can even be practiced by beginners. 

7 Yoga Poses for Muscle Growth

1. Phalakasana

Muscles Targeted: Phalakasana or the plank pose is one of the best asanas for the core, but in addition to the abdominal muscles it also works on the arms, chest or pectoral muscles, glutes, and front of the legs. 

Why To Include It: With the amount of muscles that benefit from the Phalakasana, it’s no wonder that yogis who are focused on strength always include the pose in their workouts. The plank pose is simple enough, but it’s extremely demanding and provides a full body workout. The pose is also easy to adapt to match fitness levels, with variations like plank push ups and so on. 

2. Chaturanga Dandasana

Muscles Targeted: Chaturanga Dandasana or Four-Limbed Staff pose is known to strengthen the arms and wrists and it can be particularly effective at building the triceps.Why To Include It: While beginners should simply learn to practice this pose to strengthen the arms, more experienced yogis can try variations like Chaturanga pushups. These can be so challenging that they are even referred to as triceps pushups. Whether or not you practice this asana as a pushup, its good for the triceps, which are otherwise often neglected. Just make sure to keep the core muscles and quads tightened while executing the pose to really get the benefits.

3. Adho Mukha Svanasana

Muscles Targeted: Mainly regarded as strengthening for the arms and legs, Adho Mukha Svanasana or downward dog pose also works on the shoulders and core muscles, even stretching the back and hamstrings. 

Why To Include It: Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the most distinctive and perhaps the best known pose in Yoga. Like many other asanas it looks deceptively simple, but can be quite challenging and you’ll start to feel the burn in your arms and legs in about 10 seconds. As you get comfortable with the posture, increase the duration for which you hold the pose or try to combine it with splits. 

4. Virabhadrasana II with Dumbbells

Muscles Targeted: Virabhadrasana II or the Warrior II pose is known to strengthen the legs and ankles in particular, but it is mainly used to build focus, balance and stability. 

Why To Include It: Aside from benefits to the leg muscles, the Warrior II pose is one of the best yoga poses to build stamina and balance. In addition to working on the legs, the pose also strengthens the arms and spine to some extent. However, muscle strengthening gains can be greatly expanded by adding a dumbbell workout to the pose. Instead of practicing dumbbell curls or overhead triceps extensions while standing straight, you can practice them in the Virabhadrasana II pose. Of course, it would be best to do this only after you are comfortable with the asana.

5. Purvottanasana

Muscles Targeted: Purvottanasana or Upward Plank Pose is one of the most demanding asanas in this list, working on the core, leg, shoulder, and arms. 

Why To Include It: Like the Phalakasana, Purvottanasana is a compound exercise that doesn’t just target one muscle group. However, it’s a lot more intense requiring adequate core and arm strength, as well as some degree of flexibility. It would be best to try this pose only once you have mastered the others or attempt it with the help of a yoga instructor. Once you manage the grueling asana though, you can expect muscle gains for the triceps, back, glutes, and legs, while it also opens out the shoulders and chest.

6. Utkatasana

Muscles Targeted: Utkatasana or Chair Pose is the yogic equivalent of squats and it strengthens the muscles in your back and vertebral column, as well as the thigh and calves.

Why To Include It: This asana is so good at strengthening the back and glute muscles that many athletes use it as an alternative to weighted squats. Although the chair pose will also give your thigh muscles quite an intense workout, it’s gentle on the knees as most of the weight comes to bear on the hips. 

7. Salabhasana

Muscles Targeted: Salabhasana or locust pose also works primarily on the glutes and vertebral column, but it also strengthens the arms and legs.

Why To Include It: As a prone back bending asana, the Salabhasana is a good asana to include in any yoga workout for muscles and strength building. This is regarded as one of the best exercises that you can do to strengthen the back muscles, which will result in lower stress on the spine itself. As a bonus, regular practice of the asana will also strengthen your glutes, as well as the arms and legs. 

In addition to practicing these yoga poses for muscle gain, don’t forget to include warm up and cool down asanas like Balasana and Savanasana too. Make sure that our nutrition is balanced as well, because muscle growth cannot occur without adequate nutrition. For some added help, you can also turn to nutritional supplements like protein powders if you can’t get enough protein from your diet. Likewise, Ayurvedic herbs like ashwagandha and shilajit can be used to boost muscle gains from your exercise regimen. 

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Dr. Surya Bhagwati
BAMS (Ayurveda), DHA (Hospital Admin), DHHCM (Health Management), DHBTC (Herbal Beauty and Cosmetology)

Dr. Surya Bhagwati is an established, well-known Ayurvedic expert with over 30 years of experience in treating and consulting in the field of Ayurveda. She is known for the timely, efficient, and patient-centred delivery of quality health care. The patients under her care receive a unique holistic treatment comprising not only medicinal treatment but also spiritual empowerment.

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