Ashtanga yoga is considered the most physically endured form of yoga. It involves a series of movements taking more than an hour to complete. Ashtanga yoga focuses on muscle training and strengthening. Practicing it regularly rejuvenates the entire body, makes body muscles stronger and toned, ensures more flexibility, control, and balance in the body. Lots of ashtanga yoga sequences require core and arm strength.
Is Ashtanga yoga better than weight training?
Ashtanga yoga can be as effective as weight-lifting or weight training when it comes to building a stronger and fit physique. In fact, weight training typically focuses on one isolated one muscle or a group of muscles at a time, whereas ashtanga yoga tones muscles all over your body. As you hold a pose for a period of time and repeat it several times during a yoga session, it increases muscle endurance.
So, if you want to develop a good physique and tone up your muscles, want to have power-packed muscles then ashtanga yoga is for you. Join any reputed Ashtanga yoga classes near you and start building muscles. Here is a list of some common ashtanga yoga poses helpful in strengthening the muscles-
Sun Salutation / Surya Namaskara
Surya namaskara is termed the ultimate asana due to its high level of physical and mental benefits. It is usually performed at the dawn but can be practiced at any time of the day. It is generally performed at the beginning of the ashtanga yoga practice. All the eight limbs are involved during the practice of Surya Namaskara especially the Ashtanga Namaskara- one of the sequences in a cycle of Surya Namaskara.
Urdhva Dhanurasana (Chakrasana) / Wheel Pose
Chakrasana is often considered to reduce belly fat and increase the flexibility of the spine. It is highly beneficial in reducing hair fall too. Fresh oxygenated blood gets smoothly into the brain during its practice, providing suitable nutrients to the hair follicle. It stimulates the thyroid and pituitary gland thus balancing the hormones.
Prasarita Padottanasana / Spread Feet Stretching Pose
Comes in the starting sequence of vinyasa ashtanga yoga. There are around four variations of Prasarita Padottanasana. It stretches the hamstring and opens the hips, elongates the spine, and opens the chest.
Parivrittit Trikonasana / Revolved Extended Triangle Pose
It is a counterpose to trikonasana, which increases the flexibility of the hip joints and strengthens the digestive organs, and tones the buttocks. It is quite difficult to perform correctly, in such cases some modifications are generally made by the yoga trainers to accommodate it in beginners’ class.
Utthita Trikonasana / Extended Triangle Pose
It is the standing variation from ashtanga yoga. Along with breathing consequences, the drishti involved in this pose plays a vital role. Focusing the drishti on the raised hand, lowering it in subsequent steps helps you to improve your concentration. It stretches the spine, tones the back, opens the hips and chest. Regular practice gives a holistic understanding of your body, mind, senses, and breath in depth.
Ardha Baddha Pashchimattanasana / Half Bound Lotus Forward Pose
Though it is placed early in the Ashtanga sequence it is quite a tricky position. It relieves the stiffness in the knees and tones the hips. It improves respiratory health. It is helpful in increasing the flexibility and strength of the body.
Dandasana / Plank
Dandasana involves all the eight limbs of your body. It is helpful in toning the core, abdominal muscles. It improves the strength of the arms and legs. It lengthens and stretches the spine and stimulates the nervous system. It increases the body’s resistance to back and hip injuries.
Viparit Dandasana / Reverse Plank
This is a complex exercise and advised to perform under your yoga trainer’s observation. It improves flexibility and opens up the chest, stimulates the adrenal, thyroid, pituitary, and pineal glands. This is the perfect remedy to treat depression. It helps in building emotional stability and boosting confidence. It is very helpful in the core. Arm and leg muscle strengthening.
Utkatasana / Chair Pose
The largest muscle in the body is involved while practicing this pose. It is recommended to hold the pose as long as you are comfortable. The longer you hold the pose the more beneficial it is and more calories get burned. One minute of holding this pose burns around 5-6 calories. Parivritta Utkatasana is the rotated variation of this pose, strengthening the quads and gluteals. Doing this pose with weight resistance can increase the number of calories burned.
All these and many such ashtanga yoga poses are highly beneficial for strength building. You can combine ashtanga yoga sequences with your cardio or weight training or you can just perform the ashtanga yoga sequences alone to achieve the same.