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Arms Control

Build strength in your upper arms and discover newfound power and ease in Sun Salutes, arm balances—and everyday life.

By Julie Gudmestad

If you want to do some biceps weight lifting to complement your yoga, start by purchasing a small hand weight (two to five pounds). Leave it by your phone and do a few lifts as you chat. Start with your arm down at your side; keeping the upper arm in the same position, bend your elbow to bring your hand up to your shoulder. Start with 10 repetitions, and gradually build to three or four sets of 10. After a while, you'll want to try a heavier weight.

Use It or Lose It
Through our first three or four or five decades, most of us take for granted the ability to lift, push, and pull objects as we interact with the world. But if you don't regularly challenge your strength in these activities, you tend to lose it. In my years of physical therapy practice, I've worked with many folks in the later decades of life who can't lift a bag of groceries, get themselves up off a chair, or push open a heavy door. The key to avoiding this fate is working those upper arm muscles regularly, at least a few times a week. Your reward will be strong muscles that help you progress in yoga and help you live actively and independently all through your life.

A licensed physical therapist and certified Iyengar Yoga teacher, Julie Gudmestad runs a private physical therapy practice and yoga studio in Portland, Oregon. She regrets that she cannot respond to correspondence or calls requesting personal health advice.



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Reader Comments

missy

You are speaking my language. I have been practicing yoga for 15 years and teaching for 7 and arm strength in my continual nemesis. I keep thinking that there must be something I am doing wrong to not be able to do advanced bakasana poses but as you stated, go to the mat, go to the mat and go to the mat! Maybe when I grow up in my yoga to trust my arms more by 60 I will be able to! Namaste

gaufa

wow thank you what you said had suerly helped me alot

Marilyn McQuinn

As an advanced Yoga student, I have to continually work particularily with handstand and wheel. I wish that I had developed the abilities when I was young. My arm strength (at 50) us pretty good (plank, etc. in Ashtanga isn't a problem for me). I think that the mental part, trusting my arms to hold my head and body up, may be a deterrant. I will work on the strengthening you recommend, though. Thanks! Namaste.

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