6 Gym Moves to Transform Your Yoga Practice

A dedicated, regular yoga practice is great. But what’s better is the yogi who cross-trains.

Flexibility and strength go together like cat-and-cow pose. One without the other creates imbalances within the body and increases the potential of getting injured. Incorporating strength training can transform your practice, strengthening muscles for poses that challenged you before. (I’m looking at you, chaturanga.)

Here are six strength-building moves to help counterbalance common yogi imbalances and power up your practice.

Why: Poses like chaturanga and plank build pectoral and tricep strength, but there’s less focus on the biceps, rhomboids, deltoids and lats in yoga.

The move: Stand tall, feet hip-width apart, in mountain pose holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms at your sides. For more support, lean on an incline bench with arms hanging toward the floor. Make sure your elbows are close to your torso and palms face forward. Keep your upper arms stable, exhale and curl the weights up to shoulder height while contracting your biceps. Inhale and lower the weights to the starting position.


Why: Many yogis find their anterior deltoids are tight while the middle and posterior deltoids are weak. Rows can help strengthen the middle and posterior deltoids as well as develop postural support and upper-body strength.

The move: Start on your hands and knees (in table-top) with a dumbbell in each hand, below your shoulders. Keeping your arms close to your torso, exhale and pull the right dumbbell up to your waist. Focus on bringing your shoulder blades toward each other and your elbows close to your rib cage. Lower the dumbbell to the floor on your inhale and repeat with the opposite arm. For a greater challenge, try the row from plank.