Having a dedicated, regular yoga practice is great—but if you’re going to keep your body strong, it’s important to cross train. One of the most transformative—and perhaps unexpected—ways to accomplish these goals is with weight training. In fact, the right regimen of weight training can totally transform your practice and strengthen your muscles so you feel stronger when practicing every asana, from your standing poses to your Chaturangas.
“If you plan to practice yoga long term, it is imperative that you strengthen every muscle that you lengthen through yoga,” says Amy Dalton, a yoga and fitness instructor based in Boulder, Colo., who uses a regular weight-room regimen to improve her practice. “Otherwise, our bodies become like weekend rubber bands. They might be flexible, but they won’t hold up well to stress.”
What’s more, a study in Complementary Therapies in Medicine suggests that strength and resistance training can provide an inner calm and focus similar to a Hatha yoga practice. Dalton agrees: “Our yoga practice does not have to end when we enter the weight room,” she says. “Enjoy how these movements can be part of your practice and a moving meditation. Practice all these movements with a calm and focused breath.”
Below, Dalton offers strengthening exercises that’ll help keep your body safe—and also help you see improvements in your yoga practice.