My new clients are often skeptical when I tell them yoga is one of the best ways to build upper-body strength. They think they have to spend hours in the gym pumping iron to get sculpted arms. Not so! The truth is, yoga in general and this sequence in particular can do the job. The moves engage every part of the arm. Plus, supporting your own body weight is great strength training.
Hold each pose for 5 breaths, and complete the entire series 5 to 8 times. Do 3 to 5 of these workouts a week to tone up and gain muscle in just 14 days. You might never lift another free weight.
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Kneel on all fours with hands directly under shoulders. Tuck toes under and exhale, lifting hips toward ceiling. Move shoulders away from ears, drawing front ribs in; push into hands and feet.
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Inhale, lowering hips, coming onto toes and moving torso forward, with shoulders directly over wrists. Contract abs and straighten arms; keep body in line from head to heels.
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Exhale, rotating torso and stacking right foot on top of left. Press torso up (body in straight line) with abs tight. Raise right hand up, fingers toward ceiling; gaze up or forward. Inhale; return to plank. Repeat on other side.
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Exhale, keeping body in a straight line and bending elbows to 90 degrees while lowering toward floor. Contract abs; be careful not to round shoulders forward.
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Inhale, lowering hips toward floor. Untuck toes; push into hands, straightening arms, lifting chest and engaging abs. Hug shoulder blades together and down away from ears. Exhale, lifting hips to return to Downward Dog.