Yoga isn’t just a bunch of stretching.
I have a lot of conversations about yoga with all kinds of people. It’s fun and interesting to hear people’s perceptions about what yoga is and what it does for the body.
The more I learn about yoga, the more I realize how broad the actual term is and how vastly representative it can be. On the physical side of yoga (yes, there are other sides) there are countless styles, approaches, and techniques. Of the classical and time-honored traditions of yoga, I can’t say that any of them has a specific focus on “stretching”.
So, when I’m discussing the topic of yoga with someone and they say something along the lines of “yeah, I could really use more stretching”, I mostly feel disappointed in the way yoga is portrayed in the media because of how misleading it is.
Yoga isn’t about stretching, it’s about balance.
Many bodies are imbalanced when it comes to range of motion, so a lot of the yoga out there adapts and becomes more stretching oriented. But, that doesn’t mean that yoga can’t be an impressively strengthening practice.
If you allow it to be, your yoga experience can be a source of complete and balanced full body strength, especially if you have a basic understanding of technique, so you don’t hurt yourself in the process.
This video and post serves as an introduction to the top 5 strengthening poses in yoga, the proper technique to do them correctly and for the maximum benefit, and a few extra tricks to make the poses dynamic and expansive.
Here are the poses we’ll cover:
- Plank: Learn to engage the whole body equally and safely in this static, isometric hold.
- Chaturanga: Not a pushup, but a pose. Alignment in this pose is absolutely essential to avoid wear and tear on the shoulders.
- Chair: Moving into the legs, set up your basic alignment and practice a relatively advanced concept to make it more of a strengthening pose for the pelvic floor.
- Horse: A major leg strengthening pose that can optional include dynamic movement in the legs and upper body.
- Locust: My favorite yoga pose. Not glamorous, but the best pose to complement our sitting-intensive lifestyles.
My hope is that this video will give you a starting point for establishing strength with your yoga practice and also begin to appreciate the strengthening aspects of the practice.
Yoga is a lot of things. Stretching is certainly one of them. Strengthening is also one of them. Can you find balance between the two on your journey to discover what lies beyond them?
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