Yoga is music. the rhythm of the body, the music of the spirit and the harmony of the soul create a symphony. - Sri B.K.S Iyengar

Nowadays, yoga weaves itself into our daily activities. The practice is becoming more democratic - more people of all ages are finding peace and vigour through yoga.

Yoga is a complete discipline that permits the body and the mind to be most beautifully linked. From the spine to the abdominal muscles, through the lumbar region and including breathing, yoga incorporates  and works on everything.

That is perhaps the main attraction of this sport that has become a way of life for so many. Multiple studies carried out around the world deliver this verdict since a substantial percentage of the people questioned declare yoga as their main physical activity.

So, yes: while yoga is a way of life, it can also be considered a sport. In the gym, a dedicated yoga studio or at home, yoga can also be a way to work specific areas of the body. Certain poses target one set of limbs or the other. Maybe you'd like to have toned arms before spring rolls around?

If you've ever had a broken arm, you know that those appendages allow us to do everything from shaking hands to feeding ourselves. Shouldn't we make them more defined and stronger?

A bit of stretching and a few small muscle exercises... there are asanas (or poses) that are more suitable for working the arms. Are you interested?

Try a few of these, then. They are intended for novice yogis, but those well-versed in various styles adopt them.

Downward-Facing Dog: the Quintessential Yoga Pose

Downward-facing Dog is a classic among asanas. It has the advantage of being an all-encompassing posture that works many muscle groups all over the body. For instance, in the starting position, you will feel your lower back as well as your legs called into service.

Will this pose do as much for the arms?

Beginners should learn poses with a qualified instructor
A qualified yoga instructor can help you master poses such as the iconic Downward-facing Dog asana Photo credit: Nick Kenrick.. on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Indeed, the Downward-facing Dog pose makes it possible to effectively tone and sculpt your arms, all while helping you let go of your daily stress. We did say that yoga is a complete discipline, right? The trick to make this asana work most effectively is to have relaxed shoulders while enjoying the stretches.

You can try this pose for yourself by laying face-down on your yoga mat with your toes curled under and arms outstretched. If you've not worked out in a while or feel you might injure yourself by starting out from this basic pose, you may start by positioning yourself on your knees.

Then bring your hips up (in line with the knees), making sure your hands are well forward. Continue to push your glutes upwards, making sure to keep your back straight all the while. The goal is to distribute your weight evenly across your four limbs.

Exhale as your hips rise and, once you feel yourself evenly stretched, inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.

Note that the Downward-facing Dog asana is a part of the Sun Salutations but offers equal benefits if done on its own.

The Plank Pose: a Workhorse for Arms

Plank is a well-known posture for any gym rat, military member and yogi. In fact, it is an essential asana for anyone who wants to work their arms.

Most people think that planking is the number 1 pose for their abdominals mainly because it is marketed as such. Many also know it is a torture to hold that pose... but maybe it's not as torturous as another posture we'll talk about in just a bit.

Fortunately, the peace yoga engenders means that neither panic nor torture will cloud your happiness when you realize that your efforts are paying off. And, as far as working your arms...

In this classic fitness pose, the important thing is to know how to keep your back straight. We don't say that just for appearances' sake: a curved back could potentially lead to serious injury.

Planking is relatively straightforward.  From a facedown position on your yoga mat, curl your toes under as we described in the previous section. Now, raise your torso high enough so that it rests on your forearms. Your elbows should be at 90-degrees.

Now, contract your abs and reinforce your lumbar muscles. Use your arms to raise your body off the ground, making sure that your shoulders are positioned directly over your elbows.

Did you know that the Plank also does wonders for your posture?

Make sure your shoulders and elbows are in line when you plank
A yoga instructor would no doubt correct this practitioner's plank pose Photo credit: czuerbig on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA

To intensify your plank, you may extend your arms fully - the pose will then resemble the push-up position. If you choose that option, make sure that your wrists are positioned directly under your shoulders. Maintain this position between thirty seconds and one minute, and repeat the asana regularly.

Your arms will thank you!

The Side Plank: Ideal for Your Arms

My body is a temple and the asanas are my prayers. - Sri B.K.S Iyengar

Once you've mastered the plank - you can hold the pose for minutes at a time, why not go further to work your arms? After all, muscle-building  is a gradual affair of many levels and degrees of intensity. The side plank demonstrates that concept perfectly.

If you can picture it, imagine standing upright with your arms outstretched. And then, you are gently tipped over until your entire body rests on one hand and the side of one foot. Your head remains perfectly centred on your shoulders. That, in essence, is the side plank. The question remains: short of being lowered by a rope, how do you adopt this pose?

Laying on our yoga mat, we turn to one side and place one foot on top of the other. We raise onto the elbow of the arm under while the other arm extends from the shoulder in a straight line. To intensify this move, start from the seated position, placing your weight on one arm as you roll onto your hip and extend your legs straight out.

For beginners who want the most benefit but maybe lack the core strength to attain the full side plank position, you may curl your legs at the knee, making them your resting point rather than your feet.

While excellent for toning and strengthening your arms, you will also feel this move in your abs and glutes. It may take a while to master the side plank but keep at it! Soon, you'll see results.

Different Plank Poses to Work Your Arms

Have you gotten satisfying results from planking? Is the side plank is your favourite asanas Then you should love these variations!

Far from being merely a classic warm-up pose, these yoga postures make it possible to obtain a flat stomach, tone your thighs and, above all, work your arms - including your forearms. Through measured repetitions, each of them is guaranteed to work your body while banishing the boredom often experienced when repeating a single exercise.

Here are three asanas that change up the classic plank position, to work your arms most effectively:

  • The Dolphin Plank: This type of plank works primarily the upper part of the arm since, to execute it properly, you will have to put your forearms on the mat. In mimicking a swimming motion - from bottom to top and from left to right, you will work your abdominal muscles as well as your arms.
  • The Knee Plank: In plank position, shoulders aligned, bend the left knee, and bring it towards your head. Then bring it back to the starting position. Do the same with the right knee, and so on, depending on how many reps you want to do.
  • The Peaked Plank: while in the plank position - with your shoulders aligned over your elbows, raise your hips as far as possible to the sky. Make sure you keep your back straight lest you injure yourself!

Now you know all about the various plank positions and how to execute them. All you need is your yoga mat and you're ready to go... with just one warning: if you're a beginner, build yourself up before adopting these more strenuous plank poses.

In the meantime, you can still do the modified versions to start working on your arms.

Beginners should practise more easy yoga asanas
Anyone with any degree of fitness can work their arms with yoga Photo credit: Nick Kenrick.. on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Chaturanga Pose: the Ultimate Arm Asana

Do you like push-ups? If so, you're already ahead of the pack where this asana is concerned. Chaturanga goes one notch beyond the plank; it turns the classic push-up pose into a workhorse to strengthen your shoulders, triceps and forearms.

Yes, we are still talking about yoga; specifically the type of asana you might do in your Vinyasa or Ashtanga class, or simply as a part of your Sun Salutations.

To execute this pose, lay face-down on your mat. Point your toes and assume the classic push-up position. Lower yourself gently, always keeping your elbows tight to the body. Once your body is parallel with the floor, stop and hold.

This pose, often called the four-limbed staff, works your legs as well as your core and back muscles but its main target is your arms. Naturally, breathing evenly and deeply - focusing on the breath is vital to successfully flow into this pose.

From the pectorals to the hamstrings, every muscle is called on when practising yoga. But when you decide to work your arms and forearms, the asanas featured in this article are particularly effective... as long as they are safely and properly done.

With safety in mind, Superprof yogis advise beginners to take a class with a yoga teacher. The latter will be better able to guide you, correct your mistakes, and put you on the path of becoming a yogi.

Because being a yogi is much more than just toning your arms! There are so many asanas you could incorporate into your daily yoga routine...

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Jess