An often overlooked aspect of yoga is it can improve the upper body. Significant problems such as backache and tiredness can be prevented with a proper yoga routine that is targeted for the upper body. These yoga exercises are relatively easy to master and they’ll add tone without the bulk to your upper body.
The first pose to master is the downward dog split. The hands are planted on the floor shoulder-width apart. Make sure your fingers are spread apart as this will spread the weight. Make sure to lift your hips high and maintain the true L shape. The feet should be shoulder length apart as well. When you lift your left or right leg up straight, make sure that it is timed with a deep breath. Once your leg has gone as far as it’ll go make sure that the toes point to the ground. Make sure to extend from the wrist, through the arms and torso and into your legs. Repeat on the other side. You probably won’t get it right on your first try but it is worth getting it right.
The plank pose was popular on social media a few years ago but it is no gimmick when it comes to building upper body strength. Assume the pose for a push-up which means placing your shoulders over your wrists. Your thumbs should be pointed towards the center with your fingers spread out as well. Leg and back should be in a straight line. Hold the pose for as long as you can do so within your limits.
Chaturanga Dandasana is a progression from the plank and it is quite difficult at first. Make sure you place some significant pressure through your thumb and index finger. Make sure that you look forward as this will extend your back. Now lower your body to the ground slowly and make sure your shoulders open along with your chest while pushing your torso upwards while your legs and arms hold the pose. This will increase strength in your chest and arms.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. This will significantly increase your strength in your lower back. The top of your feet should be lying on the mat shoulder-width apart. Lower your hips to the ground and now arch your neck and head as far back as possible while holding your arms in place. This is a great stretching exercise as well and you should feel an immediate release when doing this.
Bakasana. Often referred to as the Crow Pose this is one the trickiest poses in all of yoga and good balance is required. From the Downward-Facing Dog position place your knees above the elbows as a good position is vital. Put your weight forward through your hands and then push off with your feet while looking forward and lifting your hips upwards. This will probably take some time to master but it is well worth the time and trouble to master it. After deep 5 breaths, you can exit through the Down-Facing Dog pose.
Dolphin Plank. From the Plank position you can rest one of your forearms on the mat with palms of the hand facing down. Hold your position after having moved there while inhaling your breath. You can then move back to the Plank position on the exhale and try to repeat this position 5-10 times in a row. This will burn your arms and develop torso strength at the same time.
Dolphin Pose. A variation of the Dolphin Plank is when you extend yours arms onto the floor with your elbows resting beside your ears and your hands are clasped forward of your head. This is for the advanced yoga practitioner and it takes a long time to perfect.
Side Plank. This is another demanding exercise that might take some practice to master. You begin from the Plank position and then lift one of your arms as high into the air as it will go. You must shift your body in line with your legs as it faces outwards so that you can fully extend the non-supporting arm. Your supporting arm should be straight. Remember to hold the pose while you exhale and after that, you can return to the Plank position.
Reverse Tabletop. Perhaps an unusual position to perfect which is done with the front of your body facing skywards. You can begin by sitting on the mat with the palms of your hand on the floor and with shoulder-width apart with knees bent. The feet are flat on the floor. Lift up your body and to the point where your arms are straight and your legs form an L-shape. A variation of this is to lower your head after you have achieved full extension. As always make sure to deeply inhale and exhale before gently dropping yourself back into the starting position. For the more advanced yoga practitioner, this pose can be made more difficult by walking the feet closer to the hands, thus lifting the torso higher and increasing the overall degree of difficulty.
Up Dog. Think of this as a simplified push-up. The challenge here is not to do a set amount of repetitions in a strict time limit but to preserve form in order to tone your chest, shoulder, and arm muscles. Begin by lying on the floor with your head slightly elevated and your hand flat on the floor ready to push yourself up. The top of your feet should be lying on the mat. Just like a push-up but with far more control push yourself up and keep your legs and back straight as you do so. Raise your head as your arms are locked straight and remember to breathe out in a controlled manner.
These are just a few of the many yoga poses that you can do in order to work on your upper body as you continue on your path in yoga. Some are far harder than others and should require careful study and practice before being done regularly. With a little bit of regular practice, your technique will improve and the results will encourage you only further to explore other options in the world of yoga.