9 Yoga Poses That Build Strength for Beginners

This sequence will help yoga beginners build strength in the core, arms, and legs. Incorporating balances and dynamic movement is part of the strengthening process. Don't feel like you have to do the whole sequence at once if it seems too hard. Instead, try working a few of these poses into your daily yoga routine. You can also take a break in child's pose between each exercise if you need to. On the other hand, if you want to increase the intensity, there are a few variations described below to help you kick it up a notch (look for the *, which will indicate a challenging variation).

1
Downward Facing Dog

Yoga for Strength: Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana. Ann Pizer

Begin in downward facing dog. Though often described as a resting posture, down dog is a great strengthener in its own right. Take at least five and up to twenty breaths here.

2
Plank

Yoga for Strength: Plank Pose
Plank Pose. Ben Goldstein

Come forward to a plank pose with the shoulders over the wrists. Stay five to ten breaths and you will really feel this in your arms. Make sure to maintain good alignment throughout by not letting your hips stick up or sag down. Instead, keep a nice, straight line from the crown of your head to your heels. Remember, you can rest in child's pose between poses if you need to.

3
Chaturanga Dandasana

Yoga for Strength: Chaturanga Dandasana
Chaturanga Dandasana. Ann Pizer

If you are working up to full chaturanga, drop the knees here before lowering. Hold the lowered position for a breath, then continue through your vinyasa ending up back in downward dog.

* Instead of lowering all the way to the floor, press back up into a plank. You can do several rounds of these push-ups before returning to downward dog.

4
Dolphin Pose

Yoga for Strength: Dolphin
Dolphin. Ann Pizer

From downward facing dog, lower your forearms to the mat coming into dolphin pose. You can bring the knees to the floor during the transition if you need to, but once you have arms set up return the legs to a down dog position.

* For a challenge, you can try to lower the forearms to the floor simultaneously while keeping the legs in down dog.

5
Dolphin Push-Ups

Yoga for Strength: Dolphin Push-Up
Dolphin Push-Up. Ann Pizer

Interlace your fingers. On an inhalation, bring your body forward to a forearm plank position with your shoulders over your elbows. On your next exhalation, push back to down dog legs. Do five to ten of these dolphin push-ups before lifting your elbows off the floor, straightening your arms and returning to downward dog.

6
Downward Dog Split

Yoga for Strength: Down Dog Split
Down Dog Split. Ann Pizer

Raise the right leg to down dog split. Keep your hips level and the right foot strongly flexed.

* Round the spine and tuck your chin as you bring your shoulders over your wrists and your right knee to your nose on an exhalation. Inhale and return to down dog split. Repeat this motion up to three times.​

After several breaths, step the right foot to the front of your mat.

7
Awkward Chair - Utkatasana

Yoga for Strength: Awkward Chair Pose - Utkatasan
Awkward Chair Pose - Utkatasana. Ann Pizer

Step the left foot next to the right. Bend your knees and lift your arms to utkatasana. Stay here five breaths, challenging yourself to sit a little lower with each breath.

8
Standing Split

Yoga Poses for Strength: Standing Split
Standing Split. Ann Pizer

Forward fold over your legs, then lift the right leg into a standing split. If your hands don't comfortable reach the floor, you can use blocks under them. You can work on your balance by bringing one or both hands to your left ankle.

* To add a little dynamic movement, bend both knees and bring your right knee forward to meet your nose. Then re-extend the right leg. Do this three times.)

9
Tree Pose

Yoga Poses for Strength: Tree Pose
Tree Pose - Vrksasana. Ann Pizer

Bend the left knee slightly and stand up, ideally without letting the right foot touch the floor. When you are upright, bring the sole of the right foot to the inside of your left thigh, or to the calf if that's not possible. This is tree pose. You can use your hands to place the foot. Bring your hands to your heart and find a focal point on the floor to help you maintain your balance. If you want, bring the arms overhead. Try to stay ten breaths before releasing the right foot to the floor.

Repeat

Since part of the sequence is done on one leg, you need to go through it again to do both sides. You can choose to either start over at the beginning or pick up the sequence mid-way through at the down dog split. This time, lift the left leg and then go through the last four poses.

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