8 Effective Yoga Poses For Muscle Building

Amazing and easy-to-do yoga postures to help strengthen your muscles and become stronger.

Reviewed by Anirudh Gupta, Certified Yoga Instructor
Written by Shirin Mehdi
Edited by Ravi Teja Tadimalla, Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health
Fact-checked by Himanshi Mahajan, Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach  • 

If you think hitting the gym is the only way to build muscle, be ready to be taken aback. Ever heard of yoga for muscle building? Well, not many have. However, there is next to nothing that yoga cannot do, and it is possible to get a toned, lean, and well-shaped body on a yoga mat too. This article brings you the seven most effective yoga poses that help you in your muscle-building journey and guides you through performing them correctly. Take a peek!

Yoga To Build Muscle

Unlike in a gym, yoga does not require you to lift weights to build muscle. In yoga, you lift your body weight instead of dumbbells for resistance. Some yoga poses have the ability to break your muscle fibers by creating tension in them. Then, your body builds more muscles as backup, thereby increasing the muscle mass. Choose asanas that can do this and practice away. A few of them are mentioned below.

This study of young adults from Project EAT, involving 1664 participants, found that 16.2% of them practiced yoga for at least 30 minutes per week. After adjusting for initial body satisfaction and body mass index, yoga practitioners had higher concurrent body satisfaction compared to non-practitioners.

8 Best Poses In Yoga For Muscle Building

For a convenient and natural way to build muscle, try the following yoga poses.

1. Surya Namaskar Cycle

Image: Shutterstock

The Suryanamaskars are the best option to build strength, endurance, and breath. Over a period of time, all three elements will converge and help one shape up and switch on almost all the muscle groups required for progressive postures. The posture starts with Tadasana, Namaskar Asana, Urdhvasthasana, Uttanasana, Adhomukasvanasana, Chaturangadandasana, Urdhvamukhasvanasana, Adhomukhasvanasana, Uttanasana, Urdhvastasana, Namaskarasana and ends in Tadasana. A set of three suryanamaskars and progressing into multiples of three sets will be helpful according to your endurance.

Benefits: Brings a new vigor and vitality in the limbs, tones the upper and lower torso, and leaves the practitioner with a very refreshed mind.

protip_icon Quick Tip
As a beginner, you can start with 3 sets, gradually increasing to 12 sets per day for improved muscle strength and endurance.

To know more about the pose, click here: Surya Namaskarhasana

2. Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1 Pose)

Virabhadrasana 1 for muscle building
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Virabhadrasana 1 or the Warrior 1 Pose is an asana commemorating great fighters. Virabhadrasana is the name of a great warrior in Hindu mythology. You might think it strange to have a yoga pose named after a warrior when yoga is all about peace. Here, it refers more to the spiritual warrior in each one of us who fights against ignorance. Practice the asana in the morning on an empty stomach and hold the pose for at least 20 seconds. Virabhadrasana 1 is a beginner level Vinyasa Yoga asana.

Benefits: Virabhadrasana 1 stretches your chest, lungs, and stomach. It strengthens your back muscles and arms. The pose strengthens and stretches your thighs and calves. It improves focus and blood circulation. Extra care should be taken to not load the front knee. This pose removes stiffness from the femur area and brings a wonderful tone to the quadricep region.

3. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)

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Trikonasana or the Triangle Pose looks like a triangle when assumed, and is hence named so. Practice it in the morning preferably, or in the evenings on an empty stomach after a gap of 4 to 6 hours after having a meal. It is alright to practice Trikonasana at other times too, but it won’t give good results. Trikonasana is a beginner level Vinyasa Yoga asana and you need to practice it for a minimum of 30 seconds.

Benefits: Trikonasana strengthens your legs, arms, knees, and ankles and stretches your hips, shoulders, and spine. It also improves your physical equilibrium and digestion. The pose massages and strengthens the posterior obliques and thereby helps reduce back pain and stress and stimulates your spinal nerves.

4. Sethu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)

Sethu Bandhasana for muscle building
Image: Shutterstock

Setu Bandhasana or the Bridge Pose resembles a bridge and is therefore named so. Practice it in the morning if you are an early riser or in the evenings. Make sure your stomach is empty whenever you practice as the digested food will release energy in your body, which can be spent on the asana. Sethu Bandhasana is a beginner level Vinyasa Yoga asana that takes 30 to 60 seconds to do.

Benefits: Sethu Bandhasana strengthens the back muscles and stretches the chest and spine. It calms your brain and reduces thyroid problems. Sethu Bandhasana is an easier form of backbends generally done prior to Urdhvadhanurasana. It is good to strengthen the glutes, abdominals, and the spinal areas of the vertebrae.

To know more about the pose, click here: Sethu Bandhasana

5. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Bhujangasana for muscle building
Image: Shutterstock

Bhujangasana or the Cobra Pose resembles a snake with its hood raised. It resembles part of the Surya Namaskar regimen. This pose works great when practiced in the morning on an empty stomach and clean bowels. If you practice it in the evenings, make sure you do it 4 to 6 hours after your meal. Cobra Pose is a basic level Vinyasa Yoga asana. Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds.

Benefits: Bhujangasana tones your abdomen and opens up your shoulders. It strengthens your back and increases its flexibility. This asana reduces fatigue and improves blood circulation. It also elevates your mood and stimulates your kidneys.

6. Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Bakasana for muscle building
Image: Shutterstock

Bakasana or the Crow Pose looks like a crow perched on a tree branch. This challenging pose requires preparation, and a daily yoga routine will make it easier to assume. For best results, practice Bakasana after the body has been sufficiently warmed up with preceeding Yoga postures. Bakasana is an intermediate level Hatha Yoga asana. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds.

Benefits: Bakasana strengthens your wrists and arms and the abdominal region. It stretches your upper back and increases concentration, coordination, and balance.

7. Salamba Sirsasana (Headstand)

Salamba Sirsasana for muscle building
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Salamba Sirsasana or the Headstand is a challenging pose considered as the king of all poses. The pose requires you to bear the entire weight of your body on your forearms. This asana requires ideal upper body strength that you have to work towards before you can try it. Practice the pose in the morning on an empty stomach. It is an advanced Vinyasa Yoga asana. Hold the pose for one to five minutes and ensure proper body alignment to avoid injuries.

Benefits: Salamba Sirsasana strengthens your lungs, arms, and legs. It stimulates your pituitary gland and tones your abdominal organs. It helps those suffering from insomnia and sinusitis. The pose stimulates your nerves and allows fresh blood to flow to your brain.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Phalakasana, Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, and Utkatasana are some more poses that you can perform to build muscle.

For injury prevention, always perform these poses with the help of a yoga and meditation instructor. Also, take care of your nutrition and hydration needs to promote muscle recovery.

To know more about the pose, click here: Salamba Sirsasana

8. Ashtanga

Ashtanga is a style of yoga popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois in the 20th century. It is known as the eight-limbed yoga, referring to the eight spiritual practices outlined in the yoga sutras. These are yama (ethical standards), niyama (observances), asana (posture), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). This practice involves a series of challenging postures that require the engagement of various muscle groups, such as hamstrings, abs, chest, and shoulders.

Ashtanga yoga helps you build strength as you learn to carry your body weight in different positions. Regular practice of the positions helps one tone, improve balance, maintain stability, and strengthen muscles.

Now, let’s answer some questions regarding yoga and muscle building.

Infographic: Top 3 Yoga Poses For Muscle Building And Strength

Most people flock toward free weights and machines to gain muscle. However, sometimes, using your own body is the best tool for the job. Yoga can help in this situation. It is much more than a glorified form of stretching. Specific yoga positions can target your muscles, work your core, and promote functional strength gains when done correctly. Go through the infographic below to discover the best yoga poses for developing strength and muscle.

top 3 yoga poses for muscle building and strength (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

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Download Infographic in PDF version

Yoga can certainly help build muscle mass by breaking down muscle fibers, forcing the body to build more muscles as a backup. Yoga for muscle building largely includes asanas like Sun Salutations, warrior 1 pose, bridge pose, crow pose, cobra pose, triangle pose, and headstand. These poses work on back muscles, arms, thighs, calves, legs, knees, ankles, hips, shoulders, spine, chest, glutes, abdominals, upper back, wrists, and nerves, besides increasing blood circulation and calming the mind. They also help improve stamina, promote mindfulness, and provide relaxation. Include these poses if your fitness regime and see the results for yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal diet during the muscle building process?

Incorporate protein-rich foods in your diet and consume more calories than you expend for a healthy muscle building process.

Is it advisable for first-time yoga doers to build muscle through it?

Yes, it might take time, but yoga is a natural health and wellness practice and is a simple way of building muscle.

What type of yoga is best for building muscle?

Power yoga is recommended to build muscle. Along with building strength, it is also good for improved agility and mobility.

How many days a week do I practice muscle building yoga asanas?

Practice yoga every other day to give your body time to recover and build new muscles.

Is yoga as good as weight lifting?

Yes, yoga is as good as weight lifting and can be practiced for a stronger build. It not only contributes to muscle and strength building but also increases flexibility and posture (1).

Is yoga good for bodybuilders?

Yes, yoga can be an excellent addition to bodybuilders’ exercise routine besides heavy weight lifting. It helps bodybuilders build endurance for weight lifting, maintain a good posture, and improve muscles with substantial energy and oxygen.

How long does it take to build muscle with yoga?

You may notice toned muscles after 3-4 months of daily yoga training routine (2).

Does yoga burn fat or build muscle?

Yoga can simultaneously help you burn fat and build muscles.

That’s it, guys. That’s all you need to know about yoga for muscle building. You might be doubtful about the results, but we assure you, yoga does wonders. You will only know if you try. So, get started and tell us how it worked for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Yoga uses your body weight to help build muscles instead of external weights like dumbbells and barbells.
  • Practicing multi-posture yoga cycles like the Suryanamaskar may help build strength and endurance and tone the entire body.
  • The warrior 1 pose may help strengthen your back muscles, arms, thighs, and calves and enhance blood circulation.
  • Some other yoga asanas that may help you build muscles and improve stability include the headstand and the crow pose.

Learn about the different ways yoga can help you build muscles. Check out this video below to know more about how yoga can help you improve your body strength.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Yoga Is as Good as Stretching-Strengthening Exercises in Improving Functional Fitness Outcomes: Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial
  2. Effects of a 12-Week Hatha Yoga Intervention on Cardiorespiratory Endurance
    Muscular Strength and Endurance
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