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How to Build Strength with Your Yoga Practice

By Kyle Shrivastava When people think about yoga, strength isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind. But this doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be a part of your practice! Traditional asana practices often feature long holds (which build endurance) and passive stretching (which increases passive flexibility). However, as yoga evolves we’re seeing a shift towards building power and increasing active flexibility through dynamic movement. Perhaps the most distinct shift is the strength that yogis are now cultivating. This is partly spearheaded by yogi’s bringing in lessons and knowledge from other athletic disciplines such as dance, martial arts, and calisthenics.  The physical practice of yoga is actually quite well-suited for strength building for two reasons. The first is that it utilizes repetition. When we repeat a motion, whether it be a Chaturanga or Warrior II, we progressively fatigue our muscles which allows them to grow back stronger. Secondly, each posture in yoga has numerous modifications that allow us to make it easier or more difficult. Therefore, as yogis build strength, it’s easy to find more demanding and difficult progressions that will allow us to continue that growth. By utilizing reputation and adaptation, we’re able to achieve the principal of progressive overhead (i.e. increasing demand on the musculoskeletal system to gain strength, size, and endurance) just as we would in any other athletic discipline. However, gaining strength in yoga requires us to actually incorporate principles from exercise science into our approach to structuring our yoga practice. So let’s discuss…

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