How to Gain Muscle by Yoga

Two Methods:Performing Muscle Building PosesBuilding Muscle through Lifestyle

Yoga can be a form of strength-training exercise as well as meditation. During regular yoga practice, you use and suspend your own body weight to condition your muscles. Certain poses require both strength and endurance when you hold them for an extended period of time. Over time, these poses become easier because you have gained muscle .

Method 1
Performing Muscle Building Poses

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    Try the Tree Pose. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take a deep breath. Pick up your right foot, bend it and place it against your left thigh in a slow and steady motion. Allow your body to transfer your weight to your right leg. Put your hands together in a prayer pose and raise them together as high as they will go. Hold the pose from 30 seconds to a minute.[1]
    • Do not lock your left knee. Keep it straight or gently crooked.
    • If you cannot place your right foot on your thigh, place it under the knee. Do not place it on the knee, because that will cause too much pressure on the joint.
    • Repeat on the opposite side.
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    Do the Warrior Pose. This pose focuses on your legs. Place your feet apart, with your right leg in front of you and your left leg behind you.Turn your left foot to a 45 degree angle so that your toes are pointing outward. Your right knee should be directly over your right ankle. Bring your arms above your head until they are about shoulder-width apart, as you inhale. Exhale as you press into your feet. Keep breathing and hold the pose for 3 to 6 breaths. Exhale and lower your hands to release.[2]
    • Do not do this pose if you have hip, knee, back, or shoulder problems.
    • Repeat on the opposite side.
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    Try the Cobra Pose. This pose will strengthen your back muscles and tone your glutes.[3] Lay on your stomach on your yoga mat. Your feet should lie flat at hip-width. Place your hands below your shoulders and keep your elbows close to the sides of your body. Take a breath as you gently lift your chest up, keeping your lower ribs on the ground. Draw your shoulders back, straighten your arms, and lift your chest off the floor. If possible, lift until your arms are straight. Press your thighs into the floor as you lift your chest.[4]
    • Straighten your arms as much as you can. You should not strain yourself at all.
    • If you are a beginner or experience neck pain, look straight ahead instead of looking upwards.
    • Do not tuck your toes while you are in this position.
    • Allow your back to arch and your stomach, pelvis and shoulders to stretch.
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    Try the Triangle Pose. This pose will help build muscle in your legs and feet. Spread your feet 3.5 or 4 feet apart with your left foot pointed forward and your right food and knee pointed outward. As you inhale, raise your arms to shoulder height. The exhale as you lean to the right, extend your body over your right leg, and place your right hand on the floor.[5]
    • Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths.
    • Your arms should be in a straight line throughout this pose. Your body should be bent sideways with your chest and pelvis wide open.
    • Repeat the same motion on the other side of our body.
    • Do not do this pose of you have a migraine, low blood pressure, diarrhea, or neck and back injuries.[6]
    • Keep your eyes open during this exercise to help you maintain your balance and keep your chest
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    Do a shoulder stand. This pose focuses on your arm and back muscles. Lie flat on your back and inhale. As you exhale, raise both of your legs straight up while keeping them together. Your weight should be balanced on your head, neck, shoulders, and upper arms. You can support your hips with your hands or leave your hands on the floor. Breath as you hold this position.[7]
    • Exhale, bend your knees, and slowly roll your torso back onto the floor to come down from this position.[8]
    • If you are a beginner, try to hold this position for 30 seconds. Gradually increase by 5 to 10 seconds everyday until you van hold the position for 3 minutes.[9]
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    Try a Plank. The plank engages your arms, shoulders and abdominal muscles.[10] Get on all fours to begin this pose. Tuck your toes, step back with your feet, and make a straight line with your body. Keep your spine straight and body parallel to the ground. Your butt and hips should not be sticking up in the air or sagging to close to the floor. Tighten your abs and hold the pose for 5 breaths. [11]
    • Never lock your elbows during this pose. Keep your elbows slightly bent.
    • You can modify this position by keeping your knees on the ground. This is helpful if your abdominal muscles are not very strong yet, or you have some lower back issues.
    • You should not do this pose if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or osteoporosis.[12]
    • Your hips should not be any higher than your shoulders.
    • For an added challenge, raise 1 leg straight up a few inches. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs.

Method 2
Building Muscle through Lifestyle

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    Eat enough protein. Your body needs a steady supply of protein throughout the say so that you can gain muscle. To gain muscle, you should eat .75 to 1 gram of protein per pound of your body weight, and protein should be 10 to 35 percent of your total calories for the day.[13] Make sure you are eating high quality protein such as lean meat, poultry, fish, or beans.
    • 1 large egg = 6 grams
    • 1 cup low-fat milk = 8 grams
    • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt = 12 grams
    • ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese = 14 grams
    • 2 tablespoons peanut butter = 8 grams
    • 1 cup quinoa = 8 grams
    • 3 ounces of lean ground beef = 22 grams
    • 3 ounces skinless, baked chicken = 26 grams
    • 3 ounces grilled salmon = 21 grams
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    Get enough sleep. Adults should get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.[14] While you are sleeping, muscle building hormones (e.g. human growth hormone) are released and your muscles are able to recover from exercise.[15] Not getting enough sleep may keep your muscles from growing and recovering from exercise as they should. #*If you do not get enough sleep, you also may be too tired to exercise or crave more unhealthy foods.[16]
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    Drink plenty of water. Your muscles are comprised of mostly water and need water to function properly.[17] Men need about 13 cups of water per day, and women need about 9 cups of water per day. If you exercise, you will need to drink about 1.5 to 2.5 more cups of water per day.[18]
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    Include quality fats in your diet. Fat will help fuel your muscles during exercise. Limit saturated and trans fats and consume heart healthy fats. Extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, almonds, avocados, salmon, trout, and sardines are good choices. Fats should make about 20 to 35 percent of your daily caloric intake.[19]
    • It is important to monitor serving sizes when consuming fats as they have twice the number of calories as protein and carbohydrates.[20] For example, 1 tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories and ~14 walnuts has 185 calories.
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    Consume healthy carbohydrates. Carbohydrates will help fuel your muscles. You will have difficulty completing your yoga poses if your body does not have the energy it needs. About 50% of your calories should come from carbohydrates.[21] Whole grain bread, rice, and pasta, quinoa, legumes, and sweet potatoes are good sources of carbohydrates.


  • Repeat these poses at least 3 times per week to gain muscles. If you cannot hold the pose for 1 minute, hold it for 30 seconds and work toward the full time. If you can hold the poses for 1 minute easily, do more than 1 repetition or hold them for a longer period of time.
  • Always do yoga on a flat surface, and preferably in bare feet on a yoga mat. The yoga mat is designed for better grip.
  • Yoga poses are more valuable when done in an integrated practice or class that instructs you on how to warm up the muscles, achieve the best postures and cool down at the end.
  • Always do yoga in flexible clothing, so that you can do the correct positions without outside impairment.
  • Warm up by taking a 5 minute walk or doing other yoga practice before attempting these muscle-building exercises.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Yoga | Sports and Fitness