On Saturday, prior to the Seattle Women’s March, a group of yogis and I experienced first-hand how yoga postures, such as Warrior I, II, III , and Archer’s Pose, can help build physical and emotional strength.
As we moved from one posture to another, I could feel my body unlocking and becoming free. As a yoga group, we were more present than ever. We felt the strong loving presence of community. A new unleashed energy was flowing! We were strong. Eagle Pose seemed to be a call to the two bald eagles flying overhead at the start of the Women’s March. Tree Pose was an invitation for both men and women to be rooted to the earth while holding up the sky together. Long after the yoga session ended, I continued to see Brave Warriors practicing their right to free speech, concerned world citizens walking for Mother Earth and civil rights. The yoga practice instilled a sense of peace, awareness, and internal strength.
To demonstrate the strength yoga imparts, I want to share what one participant from Saturday’s yoga session wrote:
Thanks so much for the heartfelt send off to an amazing day. During the Archer Pose, I pulled in the energy from the room and the positive energy from the universe. I held it in my heart and then released it back to the universe. It was a powerful feeling and a beginning to action. I couldn’t have achieved that without yoga. As I left, my warrior, archer, and om were dancing in my body all the way to the march….The whole day was over the top of my expectations. I still feel the positive energy in my body.
The work of building physical, emotional, and spiritual strength continues with an all-levels WORKSHOP I am offering on Saturday, January 28 from 3-5pm at Seattle Athletic Club (downtown Seattle). If you are interested, please comment below (or email me) and I’ll be in touch with you. SAC members and guests are welcome to attend. The workshop is called STRONG because, simply put, in addition to so many other benefits, yoga makes you strong.
Postures for building strength include:
- Warrior Poses
- Archer’s Pose
- Chair Pose
- Boat Pose
- Horse Pose
- Side Plank
- Eagle Pose
Don’t worry, counter poses will be worked into the strengthening yoga sequence. Counter poses give the body a chance to stretch, rest, and relax. As a reward for your hard work and effort, there is the added bonus of a long deeply relaxing shavasana at the end of the session. This workshop speaks to those who are building muscle mass as well as those who are in need of a greater range of motion in their already-strong bodies.
Just how does yoga help build strength? Many exercises that build strength, such as weight lifting, are muscle shortening. These strong contracted muscles are powerful, but they can’t be used effectively because the muscle fibers are short and restricted in movement. Yoga can unlock strong muscles and give the strong muscles a larger range of motion.
Yoga increases flexibility and expands the fascia. Fascia is a thin sheath of fibrous tissue enclosing a muscle. Once the fascial structures expand, muscles can grow. Flexibility can add to the strengthening or muscle growing aspect of yoga.
Yoga works to build strength through a method called “repeat effort”. Below “repeat effort” is defined:
Repeat effort is when we do something repeatedly and increase contractile proteins within the muscles, which increases force output.
- downward facing dog to
- plank to chatturanga (yoga push down) to
- upward facing dog to
- downward facing dog.
Though Hatha Yoga does not offer a vinyasa flowing style of yoga, it does involve some repetitive sequences such as the one above. During our workshop for strength, in order to experience “repeat effort” and reach a high level of strength potential, we will practice the Sun Salutations as well as the Warrior Series.
Yoga is key to building efficiently moving muscles and physical strength that has great functionality. The yoga practice is a great way to improve overall health and performance in all activities. Yoga builds strength and flexibility to enhance all activities and sports including golf, squash, basketball, swimming, skiing, cycling, running, hiking, and rowing to name a few.
Yoga for Strength helps “synergize” your muscle groups. Think of “synergy of muscle groups” as the cooperation of two or more muscles, muscles engaged in team work, muscles that work together in a harmonized way to help you with overall balance and daily actions that require you to be functionally strong.
Below are more ways in which yoga makes you STRONG:
- Holding or sustaining yoga poses helps increase muscular endurance and stamina.
- Yoga builds strength in the core stabilizer muscles of the abdominals, obliques, lower back, and pelvis.
- The stretching and relaxation aspect of yoga gives your muscles, joints, and bones time to repair and grow.
If you are reading this and live in the Seattle area, I hope you’ll join me next week!