Usually when I receive the new month’s issue of Om Yoga Magazine, I read through at least a couple of times before choosing which theme or article to base my post on. This time, however, I knew exactly what to talk about when I flipped the (virtual) page over and saw the stunning title page for Yoga Strong. Recently, I have really begun to appreciate the importance of yoga in building my own strength up, to the point that I value it just as much as weightlifting, if not more. Most, if not all experienced yogis, male or female, often have noticeable arm muscles, and even though their physique is not as ripped as body builders, they have a core strength that few can match. So, it was fantastic to read Lynsey Riach explaining exactly how useful yoga is for building strength.
Yoga uses bodyweight to build strength; no equipment other than assisting blocks and straps are used. However, it isn’t just Chaturanga push ups and holding chair pose that build strength. Next time, look to your balances. By reducing the stability of your base -say, by balancing on one leg in dancer’s pose, or on your hands in crane pose, you force your muscles to work to hold you upright. These work lots of muscles rather than just one or two major ones. The result of this is that your maximum “power” increases. Lynsey uses a good example of shot put athletes, who train using a bench press. Maximum ability on the bench press is limited by how much the scapulas can be stabilised. Athletes who practiced yoga poses such as handstands strengthened these stabilising muscles and were able to bench much heavier weights. The result? Further shot put distances.
Another key element of strength is flexibility. It is very easy to get these two imbalanced -at gymnastics, we were taught that we were inherently either flexible or strong and needed to train to correct this. Someone with poor core strength and a naturally bendy back is at risk of straining the lower back by not properly engaging the muscles associated with the pelvis, subsequently risking injury. Likewise, strength without flexibility also has it’s risks. Traditional strengthening exercises have a focus on creating contractions in the muscles. Without proper complimentary stretching, these contractions can lead to shortening of muscles, and a limited range of movement, meaning that exercises cannot be performed properly, or safely.
Lynsey recommends a selection of six strength-building poses to add to your yoga routine. These poses reduce you stability for maximum benefit, such as the gorgeous plank variation and wild thing poses above. To see the rest of the poses and find out how to get yoga strong, grab yourself an issue! By following the my link below, you can purchase an issue of Om Yoga magazine for £1.99, or start a subscription at a discounted price!
Disclaimer: I am an Affiliated Blogger with Om Yoga Magazine. Each issue I will write a post on an article from the magazine and share it with you. Have a look here to find about the other lovely affiliated bloggers. All photos in this post taken from the Om Yoga magazine.