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9 Yoga Poses That Build Strength for Beginners

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Updated June 07, 2014

This sequence is aimed at helping yoga beginnings build strength in the core, arms, and legs. Incorporating balances and dynamic movement is part of the process. Don't feel like you have to do the whole sequence at once if it seems too hard. Instead, try working a few of these poses into your daily yoga routine. You can also take a break in child's pose between each exercise if you need to. On the other hand, if you want to increase the intensity there are a few variations described below to help you (look for the *).

1. Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog - Adho Muhka Svanasana
© Ann Pizer
Begin in downward facing dog. Though often described as a resting posture, down dog is a great strengthener in its own right. Take at least five and up to twenty breaths here.

2. Plank

Plank Pose
© Barry Stone
Come forward to a plank pose with the shoulders over the wrists. Stay five to ten breaths and you will really feel this in your arms. Make sure to maintain good alignment throughout by not letting your hips stick up or sag down. Instead, keep a nice, straight line from the crown of your head to your heels. Remember, you can rest in child's pose between poses if you need to.

3. Chaturanga Dandasana

Chaturanga Dandasana
© Barry Stone
If you are working up to full chaturanga, drop the knees here before lowering. Either way, hover the chest for a breath, then continue through your vinyasa ending up back in downward dog.

* Instead of lowering all the way to the floor, press back up into a plank. You can do several rounds of these push-ups before returning to downward dog.

4. Dolphin Pose

© Barry Stone
From downward facing dog, lower your forearms to the mat coming into dolphin pose. You can bring the knees to the floor if you need to, but once you have arms set up, return the legs to a down dog position.

* For a challenge, you can try to lower the forearms to the floor simultaneously while keeping the legs in down dog.

5. Dolphin Push-Ups

© Barry Stone
Interlace your fingers. On an inhalation, bring your body forward so that your shoulder are over your elbows. On your next exhalation, push back to down dog legs. Do five to ten of these dolphin push-ups before lifting your elbows off the floor and returning to downward dog with straight arms.

6. Downward Dog Split

Down Dog Split
© Barry Stone
Raise the right leg to down dog split Keep your hips level and the right foot strongly flexed.

* Round the spine and tuck your shin as you bring your shoulders over your wrists and your right knee to your nose on an exhalation. Inhale and return to down dog split. Repeat this motion up to three times.

After several breaths, step the right foot to the front of your mat.

7. Awkward Chair - Utkatasana

Awkward Chair Pose - Utkatasan
© Barry Stone
Step the left foot next to the right. Bend your knees and lift your arms to utkatasana. Stay here five breaths, challenging yourself to sit a little lower with each breath.

8. Standing Split

© Barry Stone
Forward fold over your legs, then lift the right leg into a standing split. If your hands don't comfortable reach the floor, you can use blocks under them. You can work on your balance by bringing one or both hands to your left ankle.

* To add a little dynamic movement, bend both knees and bring your right knee forward to meet your nose. Then reextend the right leg. Do this three times.)

9. Tree Pose

Tree Pose - Vrksasana
© Barry Stone
Bend the left knee slightly and stand up, ideally without letting the right foot touch the floor. When you are upright, bring the sole of the right foot to the inside of your left thigh, or calf if that's not possible. This is tree pose. You can use your hands to place the foot. Bring your hands to your heart and find a focal point on the floor to help you maintain your balance. If you want, bring the arms overhead. Try to stay ten breaths before releasing the right foot to the floor.

Repeat

Since part of the sequence is done on one leg, you need to go through it again to do both sides. You can choose to either start over at the beginning or pick up the sequence mid-way through at the down dog split. This time, lift the left leg and then go through the last four poses.

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