PSA: Head's up - sign up very soon because we have limited space left at our Italian Summer Yoga Retreat. If online is more your jam, we now have video bundles available for all levels. Don't forget that you'll get a free gift when you screenshot your review of our app to Lauren. Our Summer YBC Mantra Box is now available for pre order! And lastly, our book, Namaslay, is available for pre order as well. Thanks for the support!
If you've been following along for a while, you know that I started lifting weight more seriously back in October. I've always loved weightlifting, but I quickly realized that in doing it more seriously, I was actually seeing results (shocker, I know). I was building serious strength - and don't just take my word for it.
Here is a video of my handstand practice pretty much exactly one year ago today:
As you can see, especially in the very last handstand clip, I was wobbling around like a wet noodle! I had very little strength compared to now - and you can see the difference below.
Now, as you can see above, I have a lot more control.
And that's what I've learned about strength. Strength gives you the ability to control your movement, and therefore, help protect you from injury.
Flexibility is wonderful and should be worked on daily, in my opinion. But flexibility without strength is, in my opinion, dangerous, because it's like a car without brakes. You need to be able to pump the brakes, go slowly, and move with caution.
So how can you build strength? Well, there are lots of ways. The easiest way is to start challenging yourself to control your movement in everything you do within your practice. Instead of quickly stepping to the front of the mat from downward facing dog, challenge yourself to go slower than you want to go, and use your core strength to bring your foot to the front of the mat.
When you're practicing inversions, practice variations. For example, when you're in headstand, don't just quickly get out of the pose once you've reached your legs straight up. Instead, take a breath, and see what happens when you bring the legs into a split. (Hint: you'll need to arch your back a bit to maintain balance.) Once you're in a split, see if you can scissor your legs and do a split on the other side. All this movement and trying to maintain your balance builds strength.
Alternatively, if you're looking to add a little something-something to your life, you can do hiit workouts like this one, a push up party, burpee party, or look into lifting weights. Aim for a little bit of strength building per week - start with maybe two or three times a week. Give it some time, be consistent, move slowly and with intention, and you should see your strength develop within about six to eight weeks, depending on how frequently you practice.
Have you started working on your strength? If so, what's your preferred way to build strength? What difference have you noticed to your yoga practice since you've built strength? If you haven't built up much strength, what goals do you have for the future?