9 advanced yoga poses to practice to build strength

The difference between casually doing yoga and really mastering the practice lies in pushing your boundaries.

Taking on advanced yoga poses isn’t just about showing off to your friends, it’s about challenging yourself and building strength.

Practicing advanced poses is all about choosing to move beyond the basics and embrace a journey of constant growth.

In this guide, I’ll share 9 advanced yoga poses that can help you build strength and take your practice to the next level.

Here are some poses to incorporate into your routine if you’re ready to challenge yourself and build some serious strength.

1) Warrior III

Venturing into advanced yoga often begins with striking a balance, both literally and figuratively.

The Warrior III pose, or Virabhadrasana III, is a perfect start.

It’s not merely about putting your body in a cool-looking posture; it’s about building strength and stability.

This pose challenges your core, strengthens your lower body, and tests your balance.

It invites you to create a straight line from your head to your heels, requiring full body engagement.

The journey to mastering Warrior III isn’t usually a swift one, but don’t be disheartened.

Remember that advanced yoga is about challenging oneself and fostering growth.

Warrior III is more than just a pose; it’s an invitation to push beyond the basics and start building some serious strength.

2) Crow Pose

Next up on our list is the Crow Pose, or Bakasana.

This one has a special place in my heart as it was the first arm balance I ever attempted.

Crow pose is a fantastic strength builder for your arms, wrists, and core muscles.

It’s also an excellent introduction to hand balancing and can really help you build confidence in your yoga practice.

I remember the first time I tried it, I was afraid of face-planting straight into my mat.

It took some time, lots of deep breaths, and plenty of patience before I could lift both feet off the ground.

But once I did, I felt a sense of accomplishment that was exhilarating.

It’s not about nailing it on the first try.

It’s about the journey you take to get there, building strength and resilience along the way.

So embrace the process and remember that each attempt gets you closer to flying in Crow Pose.

3) Headstand

The Headstand, or Sirsasana, is often referred to as the “king of all yoga poses” due to its wide range of health benefits.

This advanced pose can help improve circulation, aid in digestion, and even reduce symptoms of mild depression and anxiety.

But it’s not just about the benefits.

Mastering a headstand requires a whole lot of core and upper body strength.

It challenges your sense of balance and forces you to engage muscles you might not usually use.

It’s crucial, though, to approach this pose with caution.

Incorrect positioning can lead to neck strain or injury.

So, always ensure you’re practicing it correctly, preferably under the guidance of a seasoned yoga instructor.

4) Handstand

Stepping up the game from headstands, we have Handstands, or Adho Mukha Vrksasana.

This pose flips your world upside down, quite literally!

Handstands are fantastic for building upper body strength, particularly in your shoulders and arms.

They also give your core a solid workout and improve your sense of balance.

But let’s be honest, handstands can be intimidating.

It’s not just about the strength; it’s about overcoming the fear of being upside down.

But it’s okay to use a wall or a spotter for support when you’re starting out.

And don’t forget to breathe!

With practice and patience, you’ll find your balance and achieve that satisfying moment of hanging in mid-air.

5) Scorpion Pose

Ready to take things up a notch?

Meet the Scorpion Pose, or Vrschikasana.

This advanced pose is a combination of a backbend and an inversion, making it a real test of strength, flexibility, and balance.

Scorpion Pose requires strong shoulders, core, and back muscles.

It also demands a good deal of focus and breath control.

But it’s not just about the physical challenge.

The Scorpion Pose can also help you build mental toughness.

It’s one of those poses that require you to face your fears and push past your perceived limitations.

6) Wheel Pose

The Wheel Pose, or Urdhva Dhanurasana, holds a special place in the world of advanced yoga.

It’s not just a pose; it’s a journey of opening up and embracing vulnerability.

This backbend pose engages your whole body, from your legs and glutes to your core, chest, and arms.

It’s an excellent pose for building strength while also increasing flexibility.

But beyond the physical, the Wheel Pose can also be an emotional experience.

It requires you to open up your heart space, which can sometimes bring up unexpected emotions.

It teaches you that strength isn’t just about muscle power; it’s also about the courage to be open and vulnerable.

7) Peacock Pose

The Peacock Pose, or Mayurasana, is a challenging arm balance that tested my determination when I first tried it.

This pose requires a lot of upper body strength, particularly in the wrists and forearms.

Tackling the Peacock Pose felt like an uphill battle.

It took me several attempts, a few falls, and plenty of self-doubt before I could finally hold the pose.

But when I did, it was a testament to the strength I had built, both physically and mentally.

Peacock Pose not only builds your arm and core strength but also teaches you perseverance.

It’s a reminder that even when things are difficult, with patience and commitment, you can conquer challenges you never thought possible.

8) King Pigeon Pose

The King Pigeon Pose, or Rajakapotasana, is one of those poses that brings together strength, flexibility, and balance.

It’s a deep backbend that challenges your body and mind in equal measure.

In the physical aspect, this pose works your entire body, stretching your thighs and groin while opening up your chest and shoulders.

It also requires a lot of core strength to maintain balance.

But beyond the physical challenge, King Pigeon Pose can also be a mental test.

It demands focus and determination to hold the pose without toppling over.

9) Boat Pose

The Boat Pose, or Navasana, is all about core strength.

It’s one of those poses where you can physically feel your strength being tested with each breath.

This pose engages your entire body, from your hip flexors to your shoulders.

But the real challenge lies in engaging your core to keep your balance and hold the pose.

Here’s the most important thing to remember: every time you practice Boat Pose, you’re building not just physical strength, but mental grit.

You’re proving to yourself that you can hold on even when things get tough.

That’s the real power of advanced yoga.

It’s more than a pose

The beauty of yoga lies in its ability to intertwine physical strength with mental resilience.

Each advanced pose we’ve explored isn’t just about the muscle power or balance required.

It’s about the journey of self-discovery that each pose invites you on.

Whether it’s the challenge of Warrior III, the fear-defying Handstand, or the emotional journey of the Wheel Pose, each pose provides an opportunity to build not just physical strength, but also mental toughness and emotional resilience.

The strength you build on the mat goes far beyond the poses.

It permeates into other areas of your life, helping you withstand challenges and embrace growth.

So remember, every time you step onto your yoga mat, you’re not just practicing a pose; you’re building a stronger, more resilient version of yourself.

Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Yoga Group to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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