8 Tips for Building Strength in Your Yoga Practice

Strength. What does it mean to the non-athletic folks like myself? When I think of the word, I reminisce about Popeye eating his spinach or Arnold “pumping it up” barbell-style. Then I remind myself that strength is not just about bulging biceps or abs of steel. For yogis, strength means honor, a stoic disposition, and wiping ego from your physical self. Strength is built from both a body and mind connection.

Here are 8 unique tips to help find your own strength within your yoga practice

1. Find your edge.

Practice to the place where you stretch your potential. Get to know your limits in a safe, mindful way.

2. Develop body awareness.

Your body is giving you signals all the time, especially if you move into a posture and feel a twitch or pain. Observe your movements closely and adjust to achieve a smooth, safe, efficient practice.

3. Get grounded.

Find your feet, position them until you feel stable and grow roots. Strong postures grow from deep foundations.

4. Breathe to deepen.

It’s easy to forget that our breath is the strength behind every posture. Ujjayi breath allows us to make an intimate connection between breath, body and mind. When the breath is controlled, the mind follows.

5. Crunch your core.

Sounds tough, but if you engage your bandhas enough, you will ignite the muscles spanning your abdomen and mid- to low back. Strength radiates from a toned core!

6. Go beyond the practice – seriously.

It’s only a practice; find the space in your mind that takes you beyond the physical realm and into an ethereal space.

7. Remove the competition.

The truth is, there isn’t any competition. Only in one’s mind. If you’re feeling competitive in a yoga class, take your focus inward and release judgment of yourself and others.

8. Steady your mind.

In the Yoga Sutras, the asana practice is described as “the cessation of the turnings of the mind.” Meditation is the quickest way to stabilize your racing thoughts. Although some may doubt that meditation can help your yoga practice, meditation IS your yoga practice. Become a meditative, moving life force on the mat!

Don’t forget to have fun! Enjoy finding your own personal strength; practice and all is coming.

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splynk, posted on June 5, 2014

As I started this fusion series my mind set was all about physical strength but as the week as progressed i'm finding I am gaining back some mental strength as well that I had lost and was not sure how to get back, thanks for the well timed words on strength :)

maillance, posted on June 4, 2014

Good, clear advice. Wish we could also have a practice with Betty.

Megamind, posted on June 4, 2014

So very true as I am learning. My strength is now coming from my breathing, my core work and my will to achieve. I don't have to be popeye to do poses which were just a few months ago impossible to me. And meditation really does help to build a deeper understanding into my practice. Thank you xxx

kelliw, posted on June 4, 2014

Thanks, Betty! Lovely approach and very good advice. Namaste

revdduck, posted on June 4, 2014

Thank you for this article. I, too, have thought of strength in a stereotypical, Popeye way. Yoga has helped me to reprogram that thinking, and your guidelines are very helpful.

yogagrammie, posted on June 4, 2014

Great article Betty, thank you. I am getting so much wonderful info and instruction in this sculpt fusion series. Strength is so important for physical and mental health! Namaste <3

Sarah8_2, posted on January 6, 2014

Wonderful! Both inspiring and instructive! Namaste!!!

shajorah, posted on January 6, 2014

Great article!! Thank you!

candicerw, posted on January 6, 2014

Thankyou for sharing it is great to remind myself to come back to my meditation through yoga x

legendaryminds, posted on January 5, 2014

Awesome!

dwp31, posted on January 5, 2014

Thanks for posting. I am really working on going back to my breath and focus on allowing. I find I am much more calm and motivated when I do so.

yogagrammie, posted on January 5, 2014

Great reading today. I love inversions and arm balances. Not too great at some but learning tons!!!

ekochanska34, posted on January 5, 2014

Yoga, as in meditation through movement. I have to remind myself of that, as a former athlete I tend to approach it sometimes as exercise or an athletic challenge. Thank you for the great tips!

legendaryminds, posted on January 5, 2014

ahhhhhh!

Lilydawn, posted on January 5, 2014

Thank you!

Juliajz, posted on January 5, 2014

I'm really working on finding "my edge". Seems like I've been a little timid of late

danahleigh, posted on January 5, 2014

As a beginner yogi, I appreciate these tips. They help me understand what is behind the movements as well as help me build a strong foundation.

FreedomYoga, posted on January 5, 2014

breathe!

jpasch09, posted on January 5, 2014

great tips today; many of which I sometimes forget..these are certainly a wonderful reminder! thank you.

CherryBlossom, posted on January 5, 2014

I find when yoga practice is part of my routine I can follow the breath, find my edge, and focus my mind. What I find really hard is to keep the bandhas engaged at the same time. Its so hard for me to remember to keep them engaged. And also letting the non-existent competition go and be gentle with myself. Thanks for the post, good reminders.

pennyspicerocks, posted on January 5, 2014

To go beyond the practice, yes, that is the goal. It feels so yummy... I just got to remember to do it. :^)

kathyslp, posted on January 5, 2014

Wonderful tips! I really liked the meditation one.

vdbarboza, posted on January 5, 2014

So perfect, so soft, so ioguini... Thank you, Betty Diaz

christinemd, posted on January 5, 2014

I know what I need to do, it's now following through. One goal I have is to commit to 15 minutes or more of a seated meditation every day in 2014. Sounds easy enough, but for some reason I found resistance in 2013. New year, new growth!

yourcloud, posted on January 5, 2014

Perfect reminders, so many I often forget! Here's to getting stronger every day =)

honeyboo14, posted on January 5, 2014

I incorporate all these in my practice, but sometimes the ego soars, not to compete but as an acknowledgement of how good my physical feels. I need to steady my mind. Thank you for the article.

Niebla, posted on January 4, 2014

I'll do my best to make this work. I really want to fly off my feet, like in scorpion pose. Thanks!

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