Planks and Boats: How to Build Strength With Yoga
Building strength in your muscles and bones is extremely important for good health. But instead of going for weight training, which typically flexes out one muscle group or one muscle at a time, you can achieve this with yoga.
This instructional video will guide you on how to build strength with yoga. Slight variations in the asanas and holding them for longer durations can help you to build strength in major muscle groups as well as the small stabilising muscles, while building your coordination at the same time. So, let's hit the mat with some of these challenging poses in mind.
Also Read : Got a Stiff Back? Try These Simple Yoga Asanas
So in order to get into the plank position
- Simply spread your fingers wide open on the mat.
- Then extend your legs out at the back.
- Once you hold that position, you simply stay there, focusing on your breath.
Focusing more on the exhalation would allow you to engage your core muscles better. Visualise that your navel is going towards your spine as you breathe out slowly.
From there, you're going to bring both your feet together and lift your chin up.
- Now, lift your left leg up.
- Continue holding the position for about 8-9 breaths.
- When you're done, slowly put your left leg down and do the same thing with your right leg up in the air.
- As you breathe out, lower your right foot down.
Holding this position would engage your core muscles, muscles along your thighs, glutes, upper back, spine and your triceps.
- Now, slowly bring the left leg up in the air and bring the knee up close to the left shoulder.
- Hold the position for about 6 breaths.
- Then place the foot down back on the mat and the same thing on the other side.
Breathe out, put your foot down back on the mat, lower the knees down and relax.
So, this is more challenging than the other ones.
- Set your feet as wide as the mat is. Let yourself have a broader base to balance on.
- Lift your chin up, look right in front.
- At this point, lift the left arm and the right leg up.
- Repeat the same thing on the other side.
Slowly come out of the plank and relax. And you can hold this position for like 6-8 breaths.
So, once you're back into the base position bring your feet together and shift your body weight forward with the help of your toes.
- Then breathe out, bend your arms and go down as slow as you can.
- You body stays just slightly above the mat.
- Hold the position and breathe.
You can hold it for 6-8 breaths. And when you're done, you can slowly put yourself down and relax.
The next set of positions, when you're looking at strength, would be the boat position. So, make the boat position as the base position and add on variations to it.
Simply pull yourself back a little bit so that you have your body weight more towards your hip.
- In that position, gently lift your feet up off the floor.
- Extend both your arms and legs out in the front.
Hold your position, to begin with, for 4-5 breaths. At this point of time, notice that your core muscles are already getting engaged.
And then slowly, when you're ready, you can bring your hands together and send your legs out wider.
Now, this shifts the body weight away from the centre of gravity, which means your muscles will be working further.
Then you bring your legs together and open your arms out wide. And then switch. You can switch the position from 10-12 times.
There are many variations of the virasana also, which can help you to get the strength you're looking at.
Watch the video above to know how you can complete these series of positions.
Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
Cameraperson: Nitin Chopra and Sumit Badola
Producer: Sameeksha Khare
(Zubin Atré has designed five structured series of asanas derived from his experience over the years and his understanding of anatomy and kinesthetics . His studio AtréYoga is based in Delhi.)