Does Yoga Give You Muscle?

Does Yoga Give You Muscle?

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Poses that require you to balance body weight build muscle.

Kraig Scarbinsky/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Yoga practice not only strengthens your muscles, but also loosens and stretches them, increases joint and muscle flexibility, and improves your posture. According to, all types of yoga strengthen and lengthen your muscles. Though it can sculpt your body, it won't necessarily lead to weight loss. There are easier muscle-challenging poses for everyone to try, and advanced poses for experienced yogis to try for maximal strength building.

Studies Say Yes

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin found that regular practice of yoga increased people's flexibility, strength, endurance and balance. The chest and abs especially improve in strength. As a result of eight weeks of regular practice, you should be able to do six more pushups than you otherwise could have, according to the study.

How It Strengthens You

Yoga poses strengthen your muscles by requiring them to support you and hold the poses. It's like weightlifting, but using your body's weight as your resistance weight. This tones, defines and enlarges your muscles, just like weightlifting does. Yoga strengthens all your muscles at once, working your body in a more well-rounded way and strengthening more muscles at a time than weightlifting. On the other hand, being limited to your own body weight as resistance requires more skill, balance and practice to hold advanced poses for challenging muscles.

Good Strength-Building Poses suggests forearm plank, dolphin pose, plank, and side plank as good yoga poses for building ab and arm strength. Tree pose, warrior I pose, and triangle pose are good standing poses for building leg and core strength. Cobra pose, locust pose and shoulder stand are great poses for gaining arm and back muscles.

Advanced Strength-Building Poses

Crane pose, eight-angle pose, firefly pose, peacock pose, shoulder-pressing pose and upward plank pose are advanced arm balances that require strong arm, chest and back muscles and strong abs in order to do them. Once you can do the poses, holding them strengthens your muscles and improves your balance.