As a weight lifter, you’re familiar with testing your endurance and strength—your workout builds muscle mass and increases cardiovascular endurance. Yoga postures can achieve these same goals, plus bring your body into greater balance by lengthening muscles that are traditionally tightened by weight-lifting routines.
Here are a few yoga poses for weight lifters that you can use in rotation with your regular routine.
1. Side Plank Pose – Parsvottanasana
Side plank will challenge your balance in addition to improving your muscular strength. In this pose, you support your weight on one hand and the blade edge of one foot as your core strength works to keep your hips from sagging.
To achieve this pose, you must recruit your core muscles and feel your own ability to grow light and buoyant, while holding up your own weight. Keep the outer edge of your grounded foot strong and lift your top hip higher in the air to create a feeling of lightness.
Practice tip: Move your wrist just slightly forward from directly underneath your shoulder and distribute your weight evenly through the entire surface of your fingers and hand.
2. Warrior III – Virabhadrasana III
This pose is named after a fierce warrior in Hindu mythology who was born out of a lock of hair belonging to the ruler of the universe (Shiva.) Some translate the name virabhadra as: Vira (hero) bhadra (friend.)
To sustain this pose for 4-5 breaths, you will want to keep this idea in mind. Your work will be to fold forward from your hips until your chest is parallel to the floor, then extend your left leg behind your body and reach your arms forward in opposition.
Warrior III will increase your heart rate and teach you how to balance the weight of your entire body on one leg. Extension through the arms and legs will lengthen your thighs and the muscles of your upper arms.
Practice tip: Keep an internal rotation in your legs—your hips should stay in line with one another as you lift your back leg, and your back knee should rotate towards the floor instead of flaring open to the side of the room.
3. Upward-Facing Dog –Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
You NEED this stretch to counteract the tightening that can occur in your chest muscles from an intense weight-lifting routine.
Practice tip: Focus on engaging your legs and lifting the front of your abdomen up and in (like zipping up a tight pair of pants), making sure your weight is distributed evenly through your hands and encouraging your chest to stretch forward and up.
4. Crow Pose – Kakasana
It’s time to balance all your weight on your hands. To keep things light in this pose, your core must be solid and your gaze should move forward to the front of your fingers. If you look back at your feet, the weight of your head will bring you down.
Practice Crow pose to cultivate fearlessness and an awareness of where your head is in space.
5. Bridge Pose – Setu Bandhasana
You have worked the front and sides of your core, as well as your arms, hard with these poses, so now you can take a counter stretch to open these areas and strengthen the backs of your legs and lower back.
Bridge pose can be used to resolve tight muscles on the front of your body and to strengthen and tone the muscles supporting your lower back and hips.
Next time you find yourself wanting to switch things up in your routine, let yoga and the weight of your own body guide you into new and challenging territory.
Image Credit: Samrat Pasham