These yoga poses do more than increase flexibility and reduce stress—they build muscle.
Got a less-than-bendy body? Yoga still deserves a spot in your fitness routine.
Yoga is a perfect style of whole-body exercise, says SilverSneakers instructor Terecita “Ti” Blair. Moving through a sequence of poses is a calming way to tone your core, sculpt your legs and arms, and improve your balance.
Blair explains that yoga builds strength by teaching you to control your body. You’re working with your own bodyweight to challenge your balance.
Plus, moving your body in different ways than you’re used to can extend your range of motion in parts of your body that are often tight, like your hips and shoulders.
Ready to get stronger? Roll out your mat, and try one of more of these warrior pose variations.
How to Use These Exercises
The warrior poses you’re about to learn are mainstays of yoga. The three are standing balance poses that are very similar to a lunge. While they may seem difficult at first, with practice you’ll see improvement.
Move slowly through each pose and remember to breathe consistently, in and out of your nose. If you catch yourself holding your breath, make adjustments in your stance until you can comfortably hold the pose while breathing rhythmically.
Aim to hold each pose for three to five full, deep breaths. If you want to string them together as a sequence, it’s okay to give yourself time to reset by simply standing and breathing deeply for five to 10 breaths between each pose.
Yoga is gentle enough to do every day, but as you start out, aim to practice the poses two to three times a week.
As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
Variation #1: Warrior One
How to do it: Stand in what is known as mountain pose with your feet hip-width apart and feet, knees, and hips facing forward. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down, and place your hands on your hips.
Step back with your right foot, and turn your toes out at a 45-degree angle with your foot flat on the floor. From here, bend your left (front) knee to lower your body into the pose as far as you comfortably can—stop if you feel any pain. Draw your low belly in and up, lift your chest, and square your hips forward. Breathe here for three to five breaths. Return to mountain pose, and repeat on the other side.
Make it easier: Widen your feet for more stability.
Make it harder: Lift your arms straight up to the sky as you hold the pose.
Variation #2: Warrior Two
How to do it: Turn your left toes out toward the left. Bend your left knee about 90 degrees, keeping your knee above your ankle and heel. Keep the outer edge of your right (back) foot firmly on the floor. Engage your belly.
Extend your arms out at your sides with your palms facing down, and gaze out over the middle fingertips of your left hand. Breathe here for three to five breaths, then gently return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
Make it easier: If you need more support, place your hands on your hips, and simply gaze to the side.
Variation #3: Reverse Warrior
How to do it: Begin in warrior two, keeping your lower body exactly the same. Place your right hand on your hip, and flip your left palm to face up. Inhale, reaching your left arm up and toward the sky as you keep your torso long. Exhale to return to warrior two.
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