Yoga is an activity that is not only beneficial for elevating our consciousness and facilitating our spiritual journey and personal growth internally, but it is also a great way to stay fit and get into better shape by burning off some calories.
While a lot of people will believe that many of the slower and more patient poses which are often taught in the first few sessions of a yoga class are entirely based on improving their breathing and balance, these are the poses that actually tend to enhance the muscles the most, while also improving a person’s overall fitness.
If you’re someone who wants to jump straight to these types of positions, so that you can try them at home or in a yoga hall, we’ve got a list of 6 of the best standing yoga poses right here that are all about building your fitness so that you can feel as refreshed and healthy as possible, ready for your next session.
1. Crescent Lunge
The crescent lunge is a pose that is relatively easy to pull off but is still great for loosening the hips and strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, and quads, making for a good overall lower-body exercise.
- To begin the pose, take a large step forward with your right leg, and bend it slightly while also keeping your back straight, and your left leg stretched out behind you with your heel off the ground.
- You will want your thigh on your front leg to be parallel to the floor, while your hips remain facing forward the entire time.
- Once you are in the position, lift both of your arms into the air while pressing into the mat with your front leg. Focus on loosening your hips and feel them stretching outwards as you hold the stance for 10 to 15 seconds.
- When the time is up, change legs, and repeat the pose again. Keep in mind that you can keep your arms in the air for between 30 seconds and 1 minute if you want to also focus on balancing your arms and improving your balance at the same time.
2. Triangle Pose
While the triangle pose is a pose that mostly works on strengthening the core, it can also help to open up your shoulders and chest, along with lengthening your spine.
It’s also great for strengthening both the legs and back, and outside of the physical benefits, it is also known as a very demanding pose when it comes to maintaining focus, so it can help tremendously for training your concentration too, which is always useful in the practice of yoga.
- Start by separating your feet so that they are roughly three to four feet apart, and are both nearly reaching the edges of the mat. While your left foot remains facing forward, rotate your right foot so that it is facing outward, and turn your body to face that same direction.
- Slightly bend your right leg, and stretch both of your arms outward so that you are making a “T” shape with your upper body. Proceed by straightening your leg while keeping your arms out wide.
- Bring your torso over your right leg and shift your hips backward so that you can reach the floor with your right hand.
- Once your right palm is planted next to your foot, make sure your left hand and face are both facing upward. Take in 3 to 5 breaths while maintaining the position, and then switch over to the other leg.
3. Revolved Side Angle Pose
This variation of the Utthita Parsvakonasana pose can definitely look intimidating at first glance, but once you practice it a handful of times, you will soon realize that it’s actually quite simple to pull off.
Not only does this pose challenge your flexibility and sense of balance, but it also focuses on strengthening the legs, knees, ankles, groin, core, and shoulders, so it’s a great exercise for providing a general workout that will benefit both the lower and upper body.
- Begin by bringing your right foot forward alongside your left hand. Make sure your toes are in line with your fingers, and that your knee is at a 90-degree angle and stacked above your heel with the foot facing directly forward.
- Pivot your left foot slightly more to the left so that your heel can drop to the floor much easier.
- Twist your torso towards your right knee and open up your chest while taking your left hand off the mat and pressing it together with your right hand while gazing up at the sky. Stay in the position for two to three breaths, and then switch over.
4. Warrior III Pose
The warrior III pose can initially seem like an exercise that is all about improving your balance, but it also offers so many other benefits including strengthening the legs and abdominal muscles, stabilizing muscles in the feet and ankles, and also stretching out the thighs and hips.
It’s, therefore, a good pose to practice when you want to work on honing your lower body muscles while also straightening out your back which can help make future workouts and yoga sessions a lot easier.
- Begin by standing off the mat, and then step your right foot forward so that it is roughly at the center of the mat. Make sure when you do this that you are placing all of your weight onto this leg so that you can become comfortable with balancing on it.
- Lift both of your arms above your head, and interlace your fingers so that both your hands are firmly attached, but still make sure to keep your fingers facing upwards.
- Inhale a big breath while in this position, and as you begin to slowly exhale, lift your other leg outwards while your hips and upper body start to face directly forward. At this point, you can either keep your fingers interlaced, or you can separate your hands and keep them facing forward to keep you balanced.
- Focus on a specific point on the floor to improve your balance, and hold this position for 2 to 6 breaths.
- When recovering from the position, lift your arms up first rather than lowering your leg, otherwise, it can add some extra strain to your back.
5. Yogi Squat
The yogi squat is a slightly more energetic and active pose than a lot of the others found on this list, but while it might require more movement, it is also one of the most effective stretches for strengthening the lower back and core.
When you first try practicing the yogi squat, you might find that your body feels incredibly tight and restricted, but after you try it a few times, you will feel a lot more loose and much fitter after each rep.
- Start from a standing position with your feet at a hips-width distance apart.
- Press your hands together so that your fingers are facing upward, and make sure that you press them together a little tighter when you practice the squat since this will help you maintain your balance and focus.
- Bend your knees to the point where your body is hovering just above the mat without actually touching it. Pivot your toes out while doing this, and keep your hands firmly pressed together.
- Hold this position for 2 to 3 breaths, and slowly extend your legs to bring yourself back up. If you’re feeling confident with this exercise, you can try maintaining the position for even longer to add some more intensity to the workout.
6. Side Plank
The side plank is often considered a little easier to pull off than the standard plank stretch, but it actually offers a few more benefits than its counterpart.
Not only is it great for improving a sense of balance, but it also strengthens three different muscle groups at the same time, and can also help to tighten and shrink a waistline.
This has made it an especially popular stretch among people who are hoping to lose some weight through the use of yoga. This stretch also helps to keep the back muscles loose and flexible which can help protect it from injuries during more intense workout sessions.
- Lie on your left side with your legs completely straight and your feet on top of one another.
- Place your left elbow on the mat, and allow your forearm to rest in front of your shoulder while making a ball shape with your hand.
- Take a deep inhale, bring your left forearm in slightly, and slowly lift your hips off the mat so that only your elbow and left foot are supporting your full weight. Make sure that your body is as straight as possible while in this position.
- Maintain the position for as long as you can, and try to get as close to 60 seconds as possible, before then repeating on the other side of your body.
Try out a few of these fantastic yoga poses which are all hugely beneficial for strengthening the muscles and cutting down on weight, and if you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask your yoga instructor to give you some tips on how to master them so that you can continue practicing them when you get home.