Yoga for fitness: Best asanas for strength, flexibility and balance

Yoga is a fruitful practice for overall physical fitness. If you are looking to improve your strength, flexibility and balance, here are some asanas suggested by a veteran.
yoga
Yoga can improve overall health. Image Courtesy: Freepik
Dr Hansaji Jayadeva Yogendra Updated: 13 Jun 2023, 09:37 am IST
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In the pursuit of physical fitness, people often explore various exercise routines. Among the plethora of options available, yoga stands out as a holistic practice that not only tones the body but also calms the mind and uplifts the spirit. Looking for what to do when it comes to yoga for fitness? Here are three asanas, each focusing on three key elements of physical fitness – strength, flexibility and balance.

1. Yoga asana for strength: Ushtrasana

This yoga pose is an excellent to build upper body strength, a key part of physical fitness. Ushtrasana or camel pose not only strengthens the shoulders, arms and back muscles, but also stimulates the organs in the abdominal region, promoting digestion and improving vitality.

How to do camel pose

* Begin by kneeling on the floor with your knees hip-width apart
* Place your hands on your hips and gently tilt your pelvis forward
* Gradually arch your back, reaching your hands back one at a time to grasp your heels
* Lift your chest and gaze upwards, taking deep breaths
* If possible, hold this pose for 30 seconds to a minute, feeling the stretch in your chest, abdomen, and quadriceps before returning to the starting posture.

Camel pose
Camel pose has multiple health benefits. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Yoga asana for balance and strength: Utkatasana

Utkatasana targets the lower body muscles, particularly the quadriceps and glutes. Also known as the chair pose, Utkatasana helps to strengthen the legs, ankles and calves, while also toning the abdominal muscles. It also improves balance, apart from cultivating mental focus and concentration.

How to do chair pose

* Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart
* Extend your arms forward parallel to the ground, palms facing downwards
* Slowly bend your knees, and squat down while keeping your spine straight
* Engage your core muscles and distribute your weight evenly on your feet
* Hold this pose for 30 seconds to a minute, focusing on the activation of the lower body muscles and then come back to the starting posture.

Chair pose
Practising the chair pose can improve your strength and balance. Image courtesy; Shutterstock

3. Yoga asana for flexibility: Konasana 3 or Angle Pose 3

Konasana 3 is a standing asana that enhances flexibility in the whole body. It also promotes better posture and alignment, contributing to physical fitness.

How to do Angle Pose 3

* Start by standing with your feet 2.5 feet distance apart, hands by your side, and feet parallel to each other
* Raise both hands from the front, palms facing upwards till the shoulder level * While inhaling, spread your hands to the respective sides and turn the head to the right with hands still spread apart
* Fix your gaze on the fingers of your right palm and follow the palm as it moves
* While exhaling, twist your upper body from the waist towards the left and bend down so that your right hand touches the left toe. Bend your head downwards
* Swing your left hand straight upwards towards the ceiling. Twist your head and neck to look at the left hand
* Hold this position for 6 seconds with suspension of breath. Now look down and again fix your gaze on the right palm
* While inhaling, bring your body up straight continuing to look at the right palm till you are standing straight. With your hands spread apart, exhale
* Now turn your head to the left and practise all the steps on the opposite side * Once you have come up, while exhaling, bring your hands down to the respective sides
* Relax by bringing your feet together.

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Angle pose
The angle pose has many variations. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Benefits of yoga for overall physical fitness

Alongside strength, flexibility, and balance, yoga also promotes stress reduction, improved breathing and overall well-being. Remember, when practicing yoga, it is essential to listen to your body, be patient, and progress at your own pace. Remember, the true essence of yoga lies not just in physical fitness, but also in achieving a harmonious balance between mind, body and soul.

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About the Author

Dr Hansaji Yogendra is the Director of The Yoga Institute and President of the Indian Yoga Association. Hansaji has led the Householders Yoga Movement with a deep commitment to service, well-being, and growth of common people. Through this movement, it has been her life’s mission and purpose to simplify and spread the teachings of Classical Yoga to the masses. Under her leadership, The Yoga Institute has been awarded the Prime Minister’s Award by PM Narendra Modi for Outstanding Contribution to the field of Yoga. Hansaji is a yoga guru and a philanthropist with a vision for social welfare. ...Read More

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