In all types of yoga whether you opt to practice a physically strenuous style like Ashtanga yoga or a more relaxed one such as Yin yoga, there are many poses  involved in the practice do require time to learn and master. Dedication and patience are needed if we are to feel at ease at least with some of these poses. As a female personal trainer, I love versatility when it comes to training, and I always try to incorporate different training techniques when working with my clients.

In my opinion, the key to any sport you choose to practice is technique, no matter the style or tradition. In this article, I will go through four fitness exercises that will help you when it comes to the basic three different types of yoga poses: standing, twists, and headstands. I will also discuss one more exercise that I believe will help you gain the strength you need for almost any yoga pose. Let’s get started!

 

1. Standing Poses: Single Leg Squats

 

pistol-squat

 

Successful standing yoga poses are highly dependent on the strength of your lower body. The muscles that press the inner and outer foot down while doing these poses must be strong in order to maintain balance.

 

What are the muscles involved in this particular exercise?

While performing single leg squats we use a variety of muscles:

  • Primary muscles: tibialis anterior (on the outer front shin) for supination, and peroneus longus and brevis (outer-calf) for pronation.
  • Secondary muscles: all of the muscles in the entire lower body are involved here, particularly quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and the muscles that form up the calves.

 

How does this exercise help improve my yoga poses?

When it comes to yoga, balance is one of the most important skills that we always need to keep developing. Single leg squats surely provide the required muscle strength for all your standing yoga poses, but, the better you get at balancing your body, the less effort you’ll need to practice these poses.

 

2. Twist Poses: 360° Lying Leg Rotation

 

lying-leg-rotations

 

Due to our sedentary lifestyle, we tend to lose the ability to move our bodies the way we should. In fact, many people lose full spinal rotation in the course of their adult life. Also, some loss of movement can occur when the joints fuse due to trauma, arthritis and/or surgery. Limited range of motion can lead to a shortening of the soft tissue; this is why strengthening the muscles through fitness exercises is of extreme importance if you want to excel in all the different twist yoga poses.  

 

What are the muscles involved in this exercise?

Performing 360-Degree Lying Leg Rotation (active twisting) primarily involves abdominal obliques, better known as the “six-pack” muscles.

 

How does this help improve my yoga poses?

When it comes to twist poses, the key is to be able to rotate and twist around the axis of your spine as well as your joints. Twist poses require constant training of the muscles that surround these particular areas in the body. The 360-Degree Lying Leg Rotation is one of the best exercises for your obliques and the whole middle section of your body.

 

3. Headstand Poses: Bend Over Row

 

bent-over-row

 

This exercise will help you strengthen the muscles in the upper back, which are involved in headstand yoga poses. In yoga, when the headstand pose is properly executed, the body is supported by the upper back muscles and also by the shoulder muscles. Bend over row helps develop strength in the upper area/section of the body and also allows you to be more confident when practicing headstand poses. Faster progress can be achieved when adding weight, changing tempo and reducing rest times.  

 

What muscles are involved in this exercise?

By practicing bend over row, a variety of muscles throughout the body will be involved: erector spinae muscles (lower-back muscles), as well as hamstrings and glute muscles. While performing bent over row exercises, these muscles act as stabilizers; they do not actively contract or shorten in length, but they statically contract with no change in length in order to stabilize the torso when in the bent-over position.

 

How does it help improve my yoga poses?

Bent over row exercises are perfect for improving your headstand yoga poses, as they provide strength to the whole of the upper body.

 

Bonus: All-Rounder Exercise – Plank

 

plank-exercise

 

The good old plank is an all-rounder exercise that will help you strengthen your body in general. The technique for this exercise is really simple, although the results can be extremely powerful! Having strong abdominal muscles highly affects your overall appearance as well as the ability to perform a variety of yoga poses.

 

How to do it

Different variations of this exercise can be done; for example, using your straight arms or elbows as support. This exercise doesn’t really require anything specific in terms of preparation, and it can be performed almost anywhere!


What muscles are involved in this exercise?

Performing side plank involves a variety of muscles throughout the body:

  • Primary muscles: transversus abdominis muscle, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles (abductors), the adductor muscles of the hip, external and internal

obliques.

  • Secondary muscles: gluteus maximus (glutes), quadriceps (quads) and hamstrings.

 

How does it help improve my yoga poses?

All these muscles have to be constantly strengthened if you want to be able to perform almost every yoga pose there is.

 

Final Thoughts

 

personal-trainer

 

Although quite different in nature, fitness exercises and yoga poses are indeed very much related. Developing a flexible body in order to perform the various standing, twisting and headstand yoga poses do require a superbly developed muscular system and a lot of strength, very much achievable through regular fitness training. The three exercises discussed in this article will require quite a bit of effort on your part, but they will most definitely benefit you greatly in your yoga practice routine. Happy exercising!

 


Would you like to see how fitness can help improve your yoga practice and vice-versa? Go to BookYogaRetreats.com and choose a fitness and yoga retreat that will offer a great mix for a great body! You can find more about Justina on her personal website, JustinaTraining.com.