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How to Build Upper Body Strength for Yoga Inversions

If you are working on yoga inversions like the handstand pose or the feathered peacock pose, then it is crucial to build a strong upper body and a strong core. This means that we need to focus on the shoulder, back, arm, and abdominal region of the body.

You can follow up this sequence with your yoga handstand preparatory poses and then the full handstand and other inversion arm balance poses. Evaluate your level and give your body a pose that matches your level with only a slight challenge. Cultivate a strong work ethic and a one-pointed focus to achieve your goals and dreams.

This is an excellent practice when you are focusing on a project, career goal or you simply want to reach a higher spiritual level with a laser point focus. Surrender to hard work and be humble to whatever work you put in. This strength and focus skills are what yoga practice teaches us.

Let’s hop on the mat and learn this upper body strengthening sequence!

Most of these poses will be held for a quick five-breath count. To make this more challenging increase the time you spend in each pose and repeat the pose several times.


Plank Pose

  1. Activate the whole body here in plank. Imagine you are pressing the floor.
  2. Begin breathing through the nose and let the breath hiss at the back of your throat and back out of the nose.
  3. Complete a total of breaths in the plank pose.
  4. Look slightly forward to counter hips from raising to high up.
  5. However, keep ribs connected and abdominal core engaged.

Plank position with raised hips (High Plank)

  1. Lift the hips up as you tilt forward to keep the shoulders stacked over the wrists.
  2. Engage your core to lift onto your toes.
  3. Walk the feet forward in the high plank
  4. Hold another five breaths as you move your legs as close to hands as possible.

Crow variation with toes on the ground

  1. Simply bend the knees leaving the toes on the ground for a crow variation.
  2. Hold for breaths.

Chaturanga Dandasana to the Upward Facing Dog sets

  1. Come to the plank and bend elbows at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Press the floor away and engage your core muscles.
  3. Avoid collapsing down and hold for breaths.
  4. Repeat chaturanga to the upward facing dog five times.
  5. Hochaturanganga for five breaths.
  6. In the upward dog pose hips should be floating off the floor as you balance on your palms and the tops of your feet.

Child’s pose break

  1. Stay for a few breaths but not too long.
  2. Breathe into your lower back.
  3. Pose your arms with the knees bent to half way lower down.
  4. Tuck under keeping your sacrum on the ground as you lower lower back down to meet the mat.

Full boat pose to half way lower down

  1. Engage your core.
  2. From the boat pose reach forward into a pike position
  3. Squeeze your core, look forward and down and lift legs as much as you can.
  4. This pike position is a folding of the upper and lower body.

Hover: cross the feet and press into the hands

Optional: Grab two blocks to help make room for your hips in this challenging pose.

  1. Press into the blocks and adjust them if they wobble.
  2. Pull your legs up into the belly. Feet can stay on the floor or lift them off the floor.
  3. Look down, tilt forward pressing into the blocks (make sure the blocks are in enough so they don’t fall), then pull your shins under you.
  4. Release them back to sitting slowly.
  5. Remove the blocks to the outside of the mat.

The End with the Child’s Pose

  1. Return to the child’s pose and to your breathing.
  2. Release the shoulders and sink into the ground.
  3. Follow with your favorite arm balance or an inversion pose.

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