Yoga Poses That Can Actually Help You Build Strength

If you love incorporating yoga into your lifestyle, you're not alone. According to Statista, over 36 million people practice yoga in the United States. Roughly one in five of these Americans practice yoga every day.

Yoga has been around in some form for thousands of years and has its origins in India. By the second century of the Common Era, yoga entered a classical period where it grew from a hodgepodge of approaches to a more systematic presentation in Patanjali's Yoga-Sûtras. Patanjali is often referred to as the father of yoga, as his practices still impact yoga today. However, over time, yoga masters focused more on the physical aspects of yoga as a way to prolong life and cleanse the mind. This focus on the body-mind connection eventually led to the modern-day yoga styles that have become popular in the West (via Yoga Basics).

According to the experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine, yoga has numerous benefits. It can improve flexibility and balance, reduce back pain and symptoms of arthritis, help you manage stress, and improve the quality of your sleep. Also, because yoga is a practice that generally involves slow movements and held poses, practicing yoga can also help you build strength.

These are the best strength-building yoga poses

Boston area-based yoga instructor Kimberly Washington thought lifting weights at the gym was the only way to build strength until she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and tried yoga as an alternative. Holding yoga poses ended up leading to big improvements in her strength, Washington told U.S. News & World Report. Yoga helped increase her muscle and bone mass because the poses required her to use her body for resistance, she added. Over time, engaging in strength-building yoga postures will make you feel more powerful and you will see changes in your body.

If you want to focus on strengthening your legs, hold a high lunge pose, which strengthens a number of areas including your glute muscles, the front of your legs, and your back muscles, yoga teacher Jess Penesso tells Well + Good. A popular core-strengthening pose, the plank pose provides both strength and stretch benefits, engaging your core, as well as working your arms and legs. For a pose that helps improve balance as well as strength, try Warrior III, which requires you to engage your legs, hips, arms and stomach as you shift your upper body forward and lift one leg off the floor.

While stretching is a key part of yoga, it is crucial to include strength poses such as these in your routine to maintain healthy joints. Otherwise, you run the risk of over-stressing your cartilage, which can lead to injury, Penesso warns.