One of the most commonly asked questions about yoga is whether it builds strength – or involves strength at all.
The short answer? Yes – yoga can be used for strength training. Yoga can help increase strength and even build muscle.
But it depends on the yoga exercises involved and, well, your current level of strength.
In any case, one thing is for sure: yoga is harder than most people think!
And if you’re considering yoga to build your strength, perhaps even tone up and build some muscle, reading this short guide to the end will tell you everything you want to know.
Does Yoga Build Strength?
Yes, yoga can build strength. And this is especially true if you are new to yoga and have never done any previous strength training.
Yoga isn’t easy – that’s a fact.
And while some of the poses might look easy (shavasana, we’re looking at you), there are some yoga poses that seem to defy gravity and, for that reason alone, require serious strength.
But even beginner and intermediate yoga poses that focus on flexibility and mobility require strength.
After all, how flexible and stretchable your muscles are falls under the strength and conditioning of those muscles – and this takes time and consistent training.
So, the answer is clear: by performing yoga consistently and challenging yourself, your muscles will become stronger.
Is Yoga More Cardio Or Strength?
Here’s another hot topic about yoga: Is yoga more cardio or is it more strength?
Out of the two, yoga involves more strength than cardio – to put it simply.
Yoga can improve cardiovascular health doing yoga, but don’t expect to achieve the same heart rate zone that you would when, for example, running, swimming, or doing HIIT.
Yoga is more about mobility, flexibility, and strength.
Yoga also involves breathwork but, again, this isn’t done to the point of making yoga a cardiovascular-improving, fat-burning exercise.
The bottom line is that mobility and flexibility requires muscle strength and training. There are also yoga poses—for example, peacock pose—that require outright strength.
So, overall, yoga has more strength benefits than cardiovascular benefits.
Which Yoga Is Best For Strength?
There are many different types of yoga. We won’t list them all, as you’re looking for the best yoga for strength.
These include hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, and power yoga.
Hatha yoga is the most popular type of yoga. Considering joining your local yoga class? There’s a good chance it’s teaching hatha. Hatha yoga involves numerous styles and therefore doesn’t exclude some of the more demanding yoga poses.
Vinyasa yoga, on the other hand, is widely considered to be the most “athletic” type of yoga. It’s dynamic and intense, focused on movement, posture, and yoga flows that swiftly transition from one pose to the next.
Power yoga, finally, is largely physical, often providing the best “workout” of all yoga styles. It involves performing yoga sequences, slow and fast, with a big focus on toning, developing, and strengthening muscles.
It has to be said, however, that any type of yoga is good for strength if you are a total newbie and have never done any kind of strength training in the past!
Yoga Poses That Build Strength
Know anyone who doesn’t think yoga builds strength, or requires strength?
Here’s a list of yoga poses that, well, require serious strength.
It also should go without saying that achieving these yoga poses also requires dedicated, long-term training to reach the level of strength needed to perform them.
Needless to say, they’re pretty impressive.
- Floating staff pose (utpluti dandasana) – A pose that requires lifting the entire body off the ground, with straight arms, from a seated position
- Peacock pose (mayurasana) – An arm-balancing pose that involves lifting the legs off the ground, with all weight loaded on the forearms and wrists
- One-legged crow pose (eka pada kakasana) – An advanced variation of the crow pose (kakasana) that requires an extension of one leg
- Crane pose (bakasana) – An arm-balancing pose that’s similar to crow pose (kasana) but performed with straight, locked-out arms, increasing the difficulty
- Eight angle pose (astavakrasana) – An advanced yoga pose that involves getting into a crow pose (kasana) with both legs extended to one side
- Scorpion pose (vrschikasana) – An advanced yoga pose that involves balancing on the forearms with the legs and feet brought over the head, requiring both strength and flexibility
- Headstand/handstand – A pose that requires full-body tension and strength to maintain balance, requiring long-term training to achieve (more so for handstands)
Many of these poses—along with other similar poses and variations—are arm-balancing yoga poses that require upper body strength.
Despite that, yoga poses that involve increased flexibility and mobility are also highly demanding, requiring strength training and conditioning to achieve.
How To Build Strength With Yoga
Now that you know yoga can build strength as well as muscle, how do you go about achieving it?
No matter whether you are new to yoga or not, the key to strength training through yoga is to be consistent with your yoga routine and also constantly challenge yourself with new and unfamiliar yoga poses.
By making sure to attend yoga classes regularly, this is a good way to ensure progression and build strength over time.
Of course, this can also be achieved at home with virtual yoga classes – as long as you make sure to follow a progressive course that consistently challenges you.
By doing so, you’ll be building strength, flexibility, and mobility, gradually opening doors to more intermediate and advanced yoga poses.
To summarize the above points, yoga is a form of strength training – to put it simply.
Flexibility and mobility—which yoga is best known for improving—requires muscle strength, muscle conditioning, and joint conditioning.
There are also advanced yoga poses that require outright strength to perform, and therefore months (sometimes years) of dedicated strength training to achieve.
So if you’re looking to build strength or tone up, yoga is a great health and fitness regimen to start.
And, well, if someone you know doesn’t think yoga involves strength, ask them to attempt a floating stick pose!