Yoga builds muscles

How can I build muscle with yoga?

Yoga is primarily associated with flexibility, body awareness, and mindfulness - and not primarily with building muscle. But with the right yoga exercises, muscles can definitely be built and defined.

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Even if yoga does not lead to a bodybuilder body, yoga can specifically train muscles and, above all, target the deep muscles. In addition, many powerful and dynamic yoga styles have established themselves, such as Power Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga, which are sweaty, build muscles and offer much more than just relaxation training.

Power yoga and vinyasa flow yoga, in particular, require complete muscle groups and muscle chains and not just individual ones. But how exactly can you build muscles with yoga?

Muscle building through yoga

In contrast to weight training, yoga does not pump “thick” muscles, but primarily uses muscle groups holistically and thus achieves a gentle and sustainable muscle build-up. This primarily addresses the deeper muscle layers, which strengthen and stretch the entire muscle corset of the body in a balanced way. The back muscles are also strengthened - so doing yoga can build muscles and relieve back pain at the same time.

You can train your muscles with yoga, but diet also plays a central role in building muscle. You can also consume sufficient protein with a vegan or vegetarian diet that is in line with the yoga philosophy. In addition to dairy products and eggs, pulses, nuts, whole grains and enough vegetables and fruit should be on the menu.

Intensive yoga exercises strengthen the muscles

Yoga exercises are only performed with your own body weight. But how can you increase muscle growth through yoga if you can't add more weights, as in weight training? The answer lies in the intensity of the yoga exercises.

Because the stronger and longer the tension in the muscles is held during the exercises, the stronger the muscle will be built. This means that targeted muscle building through yoga can be achieved with longer-lasting postures and flows. By increasing the intensity and duration as well as constant repetition of the exercises, you can build up more muscle mass.

But here, too, the physical limits apply, which should not be exceeded even with the ambitious goal of muscle building. Because sore muscles are not a good sign in yoga either - and above all, mindfulness and body awareness are the focus of the yoga practice in addition to building muscle.

Which yoga forms and exercises are particularly suitable for building muscle?

There are certain yoga styles, such as Power Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga, that provide increased muscle building support. These yoga orientations focus on dynamic and strengthening asanas that specifically strengthen muscle groups.

The support (Chaturanga Dandasana) as part of the sun salutation

The board position (also called support) is part of the sun salutation and strengthens the entire muscles of the body. During this yoga exercise, the body tension is particularly noticeable in the abdominal muscles, buttocks and thighs. The deep muscles are also used.

The deeper muscle tracts serve to stabilize the spine and joints. To get the muscles to burn, you can turn this yoga posture into a dynamic exercise by practicing the sun salutation.

The sun salutation

The sun salutation posture begins standing in the mountain posture, with inhalation leading the movement. When leaning forward, exhale and when stretching the right leg behind the body, inhale again.

Now the arms are stretched upwards and the half-warrior position is kicked. While exhaling, you switch to the reverse position, the dog looking down, and thereby strengthen your arm and leg muscles.

When inhaling, step into the push-up and when exhaling into a board position on the floor. After that, when inhaling, the position of the cobra is taken. In the position of the cobra, the muscles of the back as well as the buttocks and arms are strengthened.

When you exhale from the cobra, you come back into the position of the dog. From this position the right leg comes back between the hands, breathing in, followed by the left leg, breathing out.

As you inhale, you slowly come to a standing position, keeping your back straight and folding your hands in front of the heart center in Namaste. Now the same sequences of yoga postures are repeated with the left leg. You can increase muscle training by increasing the number of sun salutations.

The sun salutation is a popular exercise in yoga. So you can learn it step by step.

Crow (kakasana)

The crow (kakasana) is one of the more difficult yoga postures that primarily challenges the arm muscles. First, crouch down and then shift your weight onto your hands while placing your knees on your upper arms and stretching your buttocks upwards. In addition, this position strengthens your wrists and your own balance.

Grasshopper (Shalabhasana)

The grasshopper is carried in the prone position. The arms are stretched backwards, brought together under the torso and the legs are stretched as a straight line upwards towards the ceiling. This primarily strengthens the back, buttocks, shoulder, chest and triceps muscles and stretches the leg and abdominal muscles.

Bridge (Setu Bandhasana)

In this inversion position, leg and gluteal muscles are strengthened and the chest and abdominal muscles are stretched. To really get the muscles to tremble, you can do the exercise from the shoulder stand and put one leg after the other on the floor. You open your feet hip-width apart and press your heels powerfully into the ground so that your hips and back can open up high.

Camel (Ustrasana)

In the camel, the leg and buttock muscles are strengthened. The exercise is performed from the kneeling position. In this challenging position, the arms are stretched far up and back and placed one after the other on the heels. In order to stabilize the posture and tense the muscles, the thighs and buttocks are tensed.

Headstand (Shirshasana)

The headstand (Shirshasana) is also known as the king of asanas and is more suitable for advanced practitioners. The reverse position has an energizing and balancing effect, especially if you can hold the position for five to eight breaths. Above all, the shoulder muscles are strengthened.


Sources used:

  • Yoga Worlds: "Building Muscle During Yoga"
  • Yoga Vidya: "Asana Lexicon of Yoga Vidya"