Every yogi that has ever chased self-improvement in their own yoga poses has in some way performed some calisthenics movements. In fact, it might come as a surprise to you that calisthenics and yoga share more similarities than differences!
What is calisthenics?
Calisthenics is translated from Greek to mean “beautiful strength”. It is comprised of movements as simple as a squat to movements that require one arm or one leg strength. These movements can build lean muscle through pushing, pulling, or squatting and can develop and improve our motor skills such as improving balance and coordination which can help with yoga.
How can calisthenics help your yoga practice?
Calisthenics that focuses on strength training requires the individual to perform a few repetitions per exercise in order to gain lean muscle that can be transferable into other areas of your life such as your yoga practice. Strength training is important to us all as it can improve:
- Muscle mass (burning calories faster while you sleep);
- Develop better body mechanics;
- Improve blood pressure;
- Excrete brain derived neurotropic factors and release dopamine to fight mental health issues like depression
- Fight against diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases which are more prevalent in today’s society than ever before!
AND a bonus benefit! It can also help you strengthen and improve on your current yoga poses and progress.
3 strength-based exercises that you can start using today
1. Planche lean
The Planche lean is great for getting confident with hand balances such as air babies and Bakasana (crow pose). It can also be used to strengthen shoulders and triceps.
Start at the top of a pushup, and slowly walk yourself up using your toes to your desired level of difficulty, so that your shoulders go past your wrists. The more you walk up, the harder it gets. Hold for 30 seconds.
2. One Leg Squats
One leg squats or pistol squats are great for improving one's Malasana (garland pose), as well as Virabhadrasana 1 & 3 (Warrior poses). It can also be used to improve balance, mobility, leg and glute strength.
If the full movement is too challenging, you can try putting a chair behind you and using it as your safety, while you train one leg at a time. The trick to mastering this movement is to slowly transition from a high chair to something lower, till you don’t need any safety. Are your quads too tight? Try doing it on an elevated surface, like a small box.
3. The L-sit
The L-sit is great for improving and developing Navasana (boat pose). It can also be used to strengthen the quads, core and improve shoulder stability.
You’ll have to be sitting down on the ground for this one. Place your hands next to you and curl up into a ball, bringing your legs in close. Then push off the ground and try to hold yourself up, having nothing but your hands on the ground. Hold for 10-30 seconds. If you’re looking for something more challenging, try straightening those legs out.
So there you have it! Strength training using calisthenics can benefit your yoga practice and improve your current progress, targeting many aspects of strength that your yoga practice demands and complementing your daily routine. As always with strength training, ensure that you are breathing properly (and by that we mean breathing into your stomach – which you can find more on over here).
If you are curious about strength training, then you may be interested in learning how Dinesh can help you get stronger and even improve your yoga practice. Dinesh specialises in helping busy people get results in the safest and most effective way, using minimal equipment (YES even just your bodyweight through calisthenics!). He also specialises in helping people overcome pain, injuries and obstacles. Dinesh has been helping people since 2016 and is qualified to teach in many disciplines from business to music to fitness - allowing him to have a better understanding of his clients' journeys. If you'd like to get in touch with him you can find him on Instagram (@thelifestyle_pt) or just search "Lifestyle PT" on Google for his full details.