10-minute strength building yoga sequence
A short and simple sequence for building strength on the mat… in just 10 minutes! With Kino McGregor
Strength training reduces body fat and helps you burn more calories throughout the day. You don’t need to lift weights to build strength. Many yoga poses use your body weight to help you get stronger. Holding poses increases muscle endurance and gives you functional strength that prevents injuries and improves the overall quality of your life. Don’t let a busy schedule stand in the way of adding strength training to your exercise routine. This simple yoga sequence strengthens your major muscle groups in just 10 minutes. Practice it regularly and see how much stronger and healthier you can get.
1. Arms in T-shape
Our first position will warm up your shoulders and wrists. Inhale and bring your arms out to either side of you, parallel to the floor so you’re forming a T-shape. Flex your wrists like you are pushing a wall away from you. Press your shoulder blades away from each other and open through the front body. Keep your spine lifted. Hold this position for five breaths.
2. Table top
Now let’s begin to engage the core while continuing to work the shoulders in table top pose. Come onto your hands and knees with your hands shoulder width apart and your knees hip-width apart. Draw your navel in to engage your core. Stay here for five breaths.
Let’s take our core engagement up a notch with plank pose. From tabletop position, straighten your legs behind you into plank pose. Tuck your tailbone under. Spread your shoulders away from each other and lift up through your upper back. Engage your core. Stay in plank for five breaths.
4. Dolphin Plank
Dolphin plank or elbow plank increases the intensity of plank pose even more. Return to tabletop position and put your elbows on the floor with your forearms pointing straight out in front of you. Step one leg back and then the other leg back so you're in plank position. Tuck your tailbone and engage your core. Squeeze your glutes in. Stay here for five breaths.
5. Plank one leg up
Now we’ll take plank to the next level by lifting our legs. From table top position step back into plank pose. Lift one leg off the ground with the toes pointing out behind you. Draw the navel in and tighten the core. Hold for 5 breaths. Set that leg down and repeat on the opposite side.
Paschimottanasana releases the back and shoulder muscles you’ve just worked in plank pose. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Inhale lengthening the spine and raising the chest. Exhale and bend forward grabbing your big toes. If you can’t grab your big toes, reach wherever you can comfortably. Let your torso relax and fold toward your thighs while keeping your legs active and relaxing the back muscles. Hold for five breaths.
Now we’ll focus on the front body with Navasana. Sit with your knees bent in front of you and your feet flat on the floor. Shift your weight back and raise your legs so your calves are parallel to the floor. Bring your arms out in front of you so they are also parallel to the floor. If you can, straighten your legs so your body forms a 45 degree angle or leave your knees bent. Hold for five breaths.
Low Navasana is intense but amazing for building strength. From Navasana roll down so your low back is on the floor. Your head and upper back remain elevated off the floor. With your knees straight, lower your legs until your feet are about 6 inches off the floor. Keep your arms out in front of you parallel to the floor. Engage your core and draw your navel in. Hold for five breaths
9. Cross Leg Lift Up
Even if you aren’t able to get your body off the ground in cross leg lift, you’re still building strength in your shoulders and core when you make the effort to lift yourself up. Sit with your legs bent in front of you. Cross your ankles and pull your legs in toward your torso. Try to make your body into a tight ball. Put your hands on the floor slightly in front of your hips. Inhale while leaning your weight forward and pushing away from the floor to lift up. Exhale and lower down.
10. Yogi squat
Strengthen your legs while releasing your back in a yogic squat. Sit on the floor with your legs bent in front of you. The soles of your feet on the ground and your knees are wide. Shift your bodyweight forward to come up into a squatting position. Sink your chest down between your knees. Put your hands together in front of your chest in prayer. If you can't keep your feet flat on the ground in this position, try putting a folded blanket or towel under your heels to give you added support. Stay here for five breaths.
Bakasana tones the arms, strengthens the core, and improves your balance. From the yogic squat position place the upper portion of your triceps on your knees. Put your hands on the floor while trying to keep your arms as straight as possible. Come up onto the balls of your feet. Stabilise your shoulders by pulling your shoulder blades down your back and widening through the front of your chest. Lean forward onto your hands bringing the weight into your shoulders. Inhale and bring the legs up. Hold for five breaths.
12. Puppy pose
Puppy pose will release the shoulders and give you a nice stretch through the front body. Come down onto your hands and knees. Walk your hands forward. Rest your forehead on the ground with your hands out in front of you and your hips up. Come up onto your fingertips and lengthen through your arms and shoulders letting them open. Hold this pose for five breaths.
13. Child's pose
Take a moment to relax and reset your nervous system in child’s pose. Rest your hips on your heels and fold your torso over your thighs. Bring your arms back and let them relax at your side allowing your shoulders to open. Rest your forehead on the ground and relax. Hold five breaths or longer if you desire.
Your strength building journey is a process. You might find these poses difficult at first but over time they will get easier. As you continue to do this short sequence of poses regularly you will definitely notice a difference.
Kino MacGregor is an international yoga instructor and the creator of Omstars online yoga platform (omstars.com)