Yoga poses for upper body strength

Do you have trouble doing pull-ups or push-ups? Have you always felt you lacked that upper body strength that your peers had? Well, here are some yoga poses/asanas to increase your upper body strength.

Adho Mukho Svanasana: The downward facing dog pose strengthens the arms and shoulders. This yoga posture also tones the muscles and rejuvenates the body.

Downward facing dog

Steps to do this pose: Lie on your stomach on your yoga mat. Now, place your palms near your ears and point your toes downwards so that your heels are facing the ceiling. Now, exhale and push off your hands such that your buttocks are pointing towards the sky. In this pose you will look like an inverted ‘V’. Now push back onto your feet so that they are flat on the floor. You will feet a stretch on your hamstrings. Do not walk closer to your hands to put your feet flat on the floor, this defeats the purpose of doing this pose. Practise this regularly and you will slowly increase your flexibility and be able to flatten your feet.

Poorvottanasana: Also known as the upward plank pose, this asana strengthens  the wrists, arms, shoulders, back and spine. It also stretches the abdominal organs and helps relieve you of any discomfort you might have doing the pull-ups or other exercises.


Steps to do this pose: Lie on your back on your yoga mat with your legs together. Now fold your hands at the elbows and place your palms on either side of your shoulders, with the fingers pointing in the opposite direction as your hands. Now, exhale and rise up off the floor using your hands, keep your heels on the floor. Breathe normally in this pose. To return to your original position exhale and rest your buttocks on the mat.

Bhujangasana: Known as the cobra pose, this asana opens up the shoulders, tones the abdomen and strengthens the back. It also improves the flexibility of the upper and lower back, thus making it easier to lift your weight up on that bar.


Steps to do this pose: Lie flat on the floor on your stomach. Place your forehead on the floor and your feet flat on the ground. Make sure your feet and heels are slightly touching each other. Place your hands with your palms facing downwards right next to your shoulders with your elbows as close as possible to your body. Make sure they do not flare out. Now, exhale and lift your upper body one part at a time – first your head, chest then your back and pelvis. At this point, make sure your hands are straight and elbows are locked. Make sure your navel is in contact with the floor and you are placing equal pressure on both hands. Now, breathe in and out slowly and try to calm your mind. To get out of the pose, breathe out and gently come back down to the lying position. To sit up again, turn to your side and get up with the help of your palms.

Marjariasana: The cat stretch helps strengthen the wrist and shoulders, and aids in doing pull-ups. It also tones the abdomen and relaxes the mind.

Cat stretch

Steps to do the pose:Position yourself on your hands and your knees. Make sure your legs are directly below your pelvis and your hands are directly below your shoulders. Keep your head in a neutral position with your eyes looking at the floor. Now exhale and round your spine towards the ceiling. Make sure you do not change the position of your hands or raise your hips. Lower your head at the neck gently (leave it loose). You should feel a stretch in your back. If you feel pain, stop. Hold this position for about five counts.

Now, inhale and come back to the starting position. Next, bend your back in the opposite direction, driving your navel to the floor. Point your head gently upwards. You will feel a stretch in  your spine. Hold this position for a few counts, and come back to the starting position. You can do this as many times as you feel comfortable. About five times should help you feel better.

A pull up is all about upper body strength and can be quite daunting, but don’t give up; persistence is the key when it comes to any form of exercise. All you need a little bit of patience and a lot of practice and you will be well on your way to doing pull ups comfortably.

You may also like to read:

Know your yoga asana

For more yoga, check out our yoga section. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates! For daily free health tips, sign up for our newsletter. And to join discussions on health topics of your choice, visit our forum.

Aasanas as prescribed by yoga experts at the Art of Living, India

Picture source:,