Everyone aspires to feeling strong in their lives. Physically, mentally and spiritually, we all need that wellspring of confidence in our own abilities and resources. Even if we aren’t in a position of needing to deal with difficult issues, strength is something we need to empower ourselves. Sometimes, it’s the fierce strength to carve our own paths in life, be that stepping away from a corporate job, moving far away, or just the certainty to live out our own convictions. Sometimes, it’s the strength to be a support for the people we love. If they need our encouragement, backstopping or just plain help, being strong makes that help infinitely easier and more joyous for us to give. And, sometimes, strength is simply something we can use to make our own lives feel less draining.
You know by now that your yoga practice is a great tool for cultivating those feelings. When you are holding yourself up in Plank Pose, you are experiencing a physical reminder of your own power. When you balance in Eagle Pose (Garudasana) you are finding the strength to fly. But, yoga’s benefits aren’t purely those of reminding you of your body’s strength. The focus you use in yoga is also a show of the strength of your mind and spirit. Bringing your attention into the moment is a key part of gaining the clarity you need to be strong. Here are five poses to help you find both of those kinds of yoga for strength.
1. Warrior I Pose (Virabhadrasana I)
Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Step or hop your feet three to four feet apart. Turn your right toes out and your left toes in. Raise your arms above your head, palms facing each other. On an exhale, turn your body so that your hips face the short edge of your mat. On an exhale, bend into your right knee. You can bend into it enough that your thigh is parallel to the floor, but be careful not to let your knee bend past your toes. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute, then release and repeat on the other side.
2. Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)
Stand in Mountain Pose. Step or hop your feet three to four feet apart. Turn your right toes out and you left toes in slightly. Bend into your right knee. Make sure your knee doesn’t go past your toes. Lift your arms out to the sides, palms facing the floor. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute, then repeat on the other side.
3. Warrior III Pose (Virabhadrasana III)
Start in Mountain Pose. On an exhale, stretch into Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana). Your fingertips or hands should be on the ground. Bring your left foot back into a high lunge. Your right knee will be at a 90-degree angle to the ground. Bring your arms forward, palms facing each other. Press your heel into the floor to press your back leg off as you straighten your front leg. Feel the opposition through your body. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to one minute, then release and repeat on the other side.
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4. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Stand with your feet close, toes touching and heels separated. Firm your thighs to strengthen your legs . Draw your navel in toward your spine. Let your arms be by your sides, palms facing forward. Soften your eyes and throat. Feel your feet pressing into the mat. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute.
5. Plank Pose
Start in Downward – Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Pull your hips back until your body forms a straight line from your head to your feet. Your arms should be directly under your shoulders. You can also come into this pose from all fours by stepping one foot back at a time. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. You can also do this pose on your knees if the full pose is too challenging.
These five yoga poses for strength will help you discover your inner and outer strength. As you perform them, open your mind to the sensations of strength that they bring you. Feel your body and mind unite to enable you to do them. Visualize the strength in your muscles firing up as you begin to move. Imagine that same strength helping you in your in your life. Remember, your mind is a muscle, too, and the powerful connections you create on the mat will help you retrain yourself for more positive habits off of it.