Yoga Poses for Your Upper Body
Do these yoga poses to tone your core and strengthen your upper body.
There are many benefits to having a strong upper body and core. For one thing, it will help you nail those arm balances and inversions. But did you know upper body strength is also crucial for better posture? As a result, you’ll sit straighter, walk taller, and appear more confident overall. Not to mention, you’ll have sexy, toned arms to show off!
Practicing the yoga sequence below will help you to build strength in your arms, shoulders, chest, and core. Do these poses daily and soon you’ll find yourself standing straighter, looking stronger, and advancing in your yoga practice.
By Leta Stevens
Place your hands on the mat behind your hips with your fingers pointing towards your sits bones. Stack your shoulders over your wrists and lift your hips towards the ceiling. Root your heels to the mat and press into the bottoms of your feet. You can either gaze toward your feet or if you desire a more intense stretch in your chest, relax your head back. While your quadriceps and core should be engaged, the strength behind the lift should be in the arms and shoulders. Hold for a few breaths, then repeat.
From Plank Pose, move your left hand to the center of the yoga mat with your wrist slightly in front of your shoulder. Slowly rotate to the outside edge of your left foot. Stack your right leg on top of the left or place the right foot in front of the left for help with balance. Be sure your hips, knees, and ankles are aligned. Be sure your legs, core and shoulders are engaged as you lift the hips and extend your right arm toward the sky. Gaze up at your right thumb. Repeat on the opposite side.
From Table Top Pose, curl your toes under and lift your hips up and back. Keep your feet hip-distance apart and release your heels towards the earth to feel your calves and hamstrings gently open. Your hands are shoulder distance and your fingers are spread wide, pressing each individual fingertip into the mat to protect your wrists. Draw your shoulders down your back as you engage your lats, biceps, and triceps to keep your hands rooted to the mat. Keep your core engaged and your head relaxed. Hold for ten breaths, drop to Table Top Pose for a few breaths, then return to Down Dog.
Begin in Lotus Pose or Sukhasana (cross-legged) if Lotus Pose is not part of your practice. Place your palms on the earth beside your sits bones. Press down with your hands while lifting your sits bones off the mat. Keep your core as active and engaged as your arms. Hold for a few breaths, then repeat.
From Malasana, plant your palms, and lift onto your tiptoes. Lift your sit bones, bend your elbows into Chaturanga arms, and place your knees on the back of the upper arms as close to your armpits as possible. Shift your upper body forward until your weight is in your hands. Engage your core, squeeze into the midline and lift your toes off the mat. Hold for a few breaths, then repeat.
From Plank Pose, shift your weight slightly forward so your shoulders are past your wrists. With your heart reaching forward, slowly bend your elbows and keep your upper arms glued to your ribcage. When your elbows are in line with your shoulders, engage your core, quadriceps, and arms to hover your body off the mat with control. Take a few breaths, and then take a Child’s Pose.
From Malasana, plant your palms on the mat, lift your hips high and walk your hands back towards your glutes, bringing your shoulders under your knees. Form a 90 degree bend in your elbows and lower your tummy between your thighs. Drop your glutes down and allow your inner thighs to rest on your upper arms. Lift your feet off the mat as you shift your weight into your hands. Once you begin to stabilize, straighten your legs parallel to the earth.
Begin reclined on your yoga mat with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Slowly walk your heels back towards your glutes. Reach your arms overhead and place your palms to either side of your head with your fingertips just above your shoulders and facing the body. Your elbows should be pointing straight up to the sky and no wider than your shoulders. Press into your hands and feet to bring the crown of your head to the mat. Be sure your knees are hip-distance apart and your elbows are shoulder-distance apart. Slowly begin to straighten both arms and lift your head off the mat as you send your hips and chest towards the sky.
All images courtesy of YogiApproved.com.