In short, yoga asana (the physical yoga practice) includes some extremely beneficial postures that can really quickly develop strength of the arms. However cultivating body awareness through a regular yoga asana practice is an much more beneficial way to strengthen your arms…essentially understanding the correct body alignment required for each asana and the way in which your arms should be correctly utilised in union with the whole body.
A couple of my favourite positions in the physical practice of yoga to specifically strengthen your arms are as follows:
The aim in this pose should ideally be to have a mindfulness around fully integrating the entire body as one unit. It is common however to see 'unconscious alignment' during high planks – in both the posture and the way that the body is engaged. Often I see students holding this position in a way that dips into the shoulders and lets the belly hang out. If you are not thinking about your body and being conscious in your body, it's actually really, really challenging to strengthen the arms in this way. Important cues for conscious alignment here are:
- think about becoming familiar with how the hands are engaging and connecting with the floor
- aim to feel how you can actually draw strength up from the floor
- squeeze your arms towards each other
- squeeze your glutes and you feel your whole body engaging
- specifically you're going to generate the most amount of strength in the arms as you are bearing the weight of your body into your arms.
Building on the high plank (previously mentioned), finding that neutral position but then adding a push up into it.
- in a high plank position, squeezing everything to the centre line
- maintain that feeling as you bend your elbows
- the whole body should move as one unit.
Through the application of the awareness that you can cultivate around practicing yoga, meditation and breathing, you can greatly improve your strength of your whole body, specifically your arms and anywhere else that you may want to improve strength.