Want toned arms? Ditch the gym and do Yoga!

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

By Indira Das-Gupta

Hands up if you want toned upper arms?

One of the many myths about Yoga is that it's easy or "just for girls." The assumption is that most Yoga classes involve a bit of light stretching and a little lie down at the end.

As anyone who has ever done a Dynamic Vinyasa class, Ashtanga or Hot Yoga will testify, this is just plain wrong. Not only can you build up a serious sweat in many Yoga classes, it's also an excellent from of strength training, without even having to use weights. This is because you are essentially lifting your own body weight.

You know those guys who love to pump iron at the gym? Some of them would seriously struggle to support their own weight in downward dog for more than a couple of breaths.

That's not to say that you should avoid lifting weights at the gym and in fact if your aim is to build bulk then that could well be the best option for you. But you want to sculpt your physique, then choose Yoga as it tones muscles all over your body in balance with each other. Weight training exercises, on the other hand, typically isolate and flex one muscle or muscle group at a time.

Another advantage of a regular yoga practice is that it reduces the risk of injury and conditions your body to perform everyday tasks better, such as walking, sitting, twisting, bending, and lifting shopping. Yoga also increases muscle endurance because you hold poses and repeat them several times during a class.

So in short, Yoga tones and builds strength in a practical and functional way - what's not to like? Check out the top 5 poses we recommend for those of you wanting to improve upper body strength and tone below.

Top 5 Poses to banish bingo wings and build upper body strength:

  • Vasistasana/side plank - in this pose you are basically balancing your entire body weight on one arm. Variations include crossing the legs instead of stacking the ankles, or having one knee on the floor.

  • Chaturanga dandasana - plank not challenging enough for you? Then start incorporating this into your sun salutations. It's more of a transitional pose and because it requires considerable strength, many people rush it. Practise holding it and hovering for at least one full breath before you come up into Upward Dog

  • Downward dog - make sure you have a strong grip through the hands and build up to holding the pose for at least 5 slow, controlled breaths.

  • Dolphin - like downward dog but on the forearms, again steadily increase the amount of time spent in the pose.

  • Bakasna - this challenging arm balance not only requires upper body strength but also good core strength

Remember the key to any Yoga practise is consistency - don't expect miracles if you are doing it only once a week.

If my blog resonates with you or got you thinking then please follow me @indiranorthlondonyoga on Instagram


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