6 Yoga Poses to Help You Train Like an Athlete

6 Yoga Poses to Help You Train Like an Athlete

Yoga is certainly about the spiritual side of things| but it is absolutely possible to build plenty of strength and tone the body with the right poses. I recently chatted with Eoin Finn of Blissology Yoga at Wanderlust Whistler about poses that will help an existing yoga practice and also improve your strength and stamina in other workouts. It’s all about working with your body’s weight!

Source: Thinkstock

| Straight-Arm Plank

Straight-Arm Plank works the whole body u2014 especially the legs| arms| and abs. Eoin loves this pose| since it forces the body to train itself to maintain alignment and keep joints safe.

  • Start resting on all fours.
  • With your palms flat| raise up off your knees onto your toes. Keep your hands directly below your shoulders.
  • Contract your abs to keep yourself up and prevent your bottom from sticking up. Remember to keep your belly button pulled in.
  • With your head and spine in line| keep your back flat u2014 don’t let it curve. Picture your body as a long| straight board.
  • Hold for at least 10 seconds. Aim for 20 to 30 seconds in the beginning and work your way up to one minute as you get stronger.
    • | Crow Pose

      Arm balances might look like they only keep the upper body engaged| but it’s also about keeping your core strong. If you’re looking to tackle Crow Pose| check out these tips to get balancing and build a stronger pose.

      • Begin in a Wide Squat. Place your palms firmly on the ground in front of you. Be sure to spread your fingers as wide as you can| and press into your fingertips to release any pressure in your wrists.
      • Now straighten your legs slightly and place your knees as high up onto your triceps as possible| toward your armpits.
      • Shift your weight forward into your hands and see if you can lean the weight of your knees into the backs of your arms. Then try lifting one foot off the ground and then the other. If you can bring your toes together| you’ll feel more compact and it’ll be easier to balance. Squeeze your knees together slightly and pull your belly button in towards your spine to give you a sense of lightness.
      • Stay here for five breaths| or you can work on straightening your arms. It’s OK if you lose your balance and fall over. It took me a ton of tries to be able to stay balanced. Just keep trying!

      Source: Louisa Larson Photography

      | Handstand

      Handstand is another one of Eoin’s favorite poses u2014 and he loves that he’s seen CrossFitters trying it out against the wall| since it builds strength in the whole body. If the full expression feels far off| try this handstand prep against the wall or the more basic “”L”” handstand.

      • Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Walk your feet in a little closer to your hands.
      • Bend your knees| lifting your heels| and push off the balls of your feet| lifting both feet into the air.
      • Concentrate on holding your gaze at one point on the floor below you| keeping the hips stacked over the shoulders| fingers spread wide. Hold for as long as you can.

      Source: Jenny Sugar at Laughing River Yoga Studio

      | Chair Pose

      Sure| Chair Pose might look easy| but it is a killer move for your thighs and glutes when done correctly. Be sure to focus on alignment to keep your body safe and get that sculpted lower body you’re after.

      • Stand with your feet together in Mountain Pose. Bend your knees and lower your hips as you raise your arms overhead.
      • Focus on sitting back into your heels to relieve pressure from your knees and to target the thighs and glutes. Tuck your tailbone in and engage your abs| keeping your spine straight. Roll your shoulder blades back and down away from your ears to release any tension in the neck or upper body| and gaze up toward the ceiling.
      • Stay like this for five breaths.

      Photo: Jenny Sugar

      | Boat Pose

      Boat is one of the most effective yoga poses to tone up and build a strong core. Follow the steps below| but be sure to avoid these common mistakes.

      • Begin sitting on your mat. Lift your knees up to your chest| balancing on your sit bones.
      • Keep your spine long| pulling your knees into your chest with your chest lifted.
      • With your shins parallel to the ground (as shown)| draw your navel toward your spine| and work on slowly straightening your legs upward. If your back starts to hunch| then bring your shins back down. The action of keeping your spine long and drawing your belly in is what works your abs here.
      • Hold for five complete breaths. Rest| and repeat three times.

      Source: Louisa Larson Photography

      | Warrior 3

      Warrior 3 Pose brings the heat to your core| challenges your balance| and builds up strong muscles in your back. Instead of concentrating so hard in this pose| try to find a comfortable| centered space with deep strong breaths!

      • Stand with your feet together. Inhale as you extend your arms out wide in T position or straight overhead for a more advanced variation.
      • Exhale as you bend forward at your hips| lifting your right leg straight behind you coming into Warrior 3. Draw your navel toward your spine and hold for five breaths. Then come to stand| lower your right leg| and repeat with the left leg lifted for another five.

      Source: Louisa Larson Photography