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6 Yoga Moves for Strong Arms

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6 Yoga Moves for Strong Arms

Free weights aren't the only way to get a great upper body workout. Yoga is great for flexibility, but the benefits of using your body weight as resistance can't be ignored. The following yoga moves engage every part of the arm, and their isometric holds build unparalleled strength in the entire upper body. These poses also flow from one to another for an intense arm workout that doesn't quit.

1. Downward Dog

When done correctly, Downward Dog requires just as much arm strength as it does core.

  • Kneel on all fours with hands directly under shoulders.
  • Tuck your toes under and lift your hips toward the ceiling while extending the arms, pressing the shoulders away from your ears.
  • Push into your hands to press your body weight into your heels.
  • Hold for 5 breaths and return to start.

2. Three-Legged Dog

The removal of one foot puts more resistance on your arms to hold steady.

  • Perform Downward Dog.
  • Once in position, lift your left leg straight back and up into the air as high as you can.
  • Be sure to keep your shoulders parallel to the ground.
  • Hold for 5 breaths and release.
  • Repeat with the right leg.

3. Knee Up Plank

  • Start in plank position with your weight on your hands, your body making a straight line from your head to your heels.
  • Hold for 5 breaths. Next, keeping your entire body completely stationary and parallel to the ground, bring your right knee up toward your right elbow to contract the abs.
  • Hold for 5 breaths.
  • Don't let your shoulders move above your wrists—your leg should be the only thing that moves.
  • Bring your right leg back and repeat with the left leg.

4. Side Plank

  • Start in plank position.
  • To begin, rotate to the right, stacking your right foot on top of the left and lifting your right hand off the ground, keeping your hips lifted and your body in a straight line.
  • Extend your right arm completely and raise your right hand up toward the ceiling.
  • Hold for 5 breaths.
  • Slowly return to plank and then repeat on the left side.
  • If you find balancing difficult, feel free to stagger your feet instead of stacking them, or drop your lower knee to the ground for a more stable base.

5. Chaturanga

Think of Chaturanga as the slowest pushup you'll ever do.

  • Start in plank position.
  • Keeping your body in a straight line from head to heel, flex the elbows to lower your body toward the ground.
  • Keep the abs contracted and your shoulders pulled away from your ears.
  • Once your elbows are at 90 degrees, roll forward on your toes and hug your elbows into your sides.
  • The only thing that should ever make contact with the ground are your toes and your hands.
  • Hold for 5 breaths and then push pack up into plank position and repeat.

6. Upward Dog

The biggest difference between Cobra Pose and Upward Facing Dog is that Upward Dog is more challenging on the arms because you really have to lift your thighs off the mat.

  • Start lying on your stomach, tops of your feet in contact with the mat, hands directly underneath your shoulders.
  • Pressing through your palms, extend the elbows while arching your back and pressing through the tops of your feet to lift the hips off the ground.
  • Your head should be lifted, looking at least in front of you, up toward the ceiling if you can.
  • Hold for 5 breaths and release.

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