Yoga Postures: Upper Body

by Jessica B. | May 6th, 2013 | Strength Training, Upper Body

yogaMany people think of yoga as a bunch of casual stretches that tend to build strength in the lower body and increase flexibility. But there are many postures that also target the upper body and can help you to build strength in your arms. Many are advanced postures, but there are some that are suitable even for beginners. Here are some of my favorite postures that target the upper body.

1) Downward facing dog – Although this posture is usually used as a stretching posture, it really requires a great deal of upper body strength. This is a great starting pose for working the upper body. It tones your arms, shoulders, and upper back. If you want to increase the difficulty, lift one leg at a time and hold for 30 seconds while breathing. You should feel this stretch in your upper arms.

2) Crow – This is a more challenging position that requires a great deal of upper body strength. You put your hands on the floor, shoulder distance apart and lean forward in a squat position. Then you balance your knees on the back of your upper arms and tilt forward. Keep your head above the ground, and allow your arms to support your entire body weight. If this is too much for you, leave your feet on the floor and just move more weight on to your arms until you can not bear any more.

3) Backbend – This position is a great stretch for the back, and it is a common one for many types of yoga practice. You can lift up from the floor, or if you want to help develop your flexibility, start in a standing position and lean over backwards.

4) Headstand – This is a great way to build shoulder and upper body strength. If you are a beginner, you can do this close to a wall and kick up with some support. If you want something more difficult, you can lace your hands behind your head – binding your headstand. The longer you hold this position the better your workout will be.

5) Handstand – If you have already built some upper body strength, the handstand is a great way of training. If you are still unsteady, you can kick up to the handstand using a wall as support. Try to hold your handstand for at least five deep breaths.

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