Many clients often ask me how to build the upper body strength required in Ashtanga and other yoga styles. My first reply is that of yoga guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois: “Practice, practice, all is coming.” In other words, just doing yoga will give you the strength to do more yoga.
That being said, here are two specific exercises to strengthen your upper body and core, while elevating your yoga practice all the more:
Begin in regular plank pose (upper pushup position) on hands and toes with your body in a straight line, hands rooted under the shoulders, tailbone reaching for your heels and strong legs.
Once you can hold plank for 45 seconds with even breath, you’re ready. Stop timing the pose and instead start changing the posture by inching your hands forward, keeping your core lifted and legs strong. Eventually you want your body to come within inches of the floor with arms almost straight out in front of you.
Try not to rush and maintain a sense of control as you move forward. Stay at your edge for at least two even breaths before trying to go further.
Come to your hands and knees, then place your elbows on the floor directly under your shoulders and interlace your fingers. Lift your hips up, using your thigh strength to press the thigh bones back, as if you’re in a Down Dog, but on your forearms.
When you can easily hold this position for five-10 breaths, stop timing the pose and begin the pushups. On your exhale, draw your chin toward the floor in front of your interlaced fingers and on your inhale use your core and leg strength to come back to the original position.
Start with just a few pushups and build up to ten.
By doing these exercises regularly, you can propel your practice to a whole new level.
Give your body time to adapt, and practice, practice, practice.
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Asia Nelson is a certified Advanced Yoga Instructor and Director of Pranalife Yoga in Kitchener, Ontario. Find more healthy news at DailySqueeze.ca.