When you’re relatively new to yoga, you don’t typically consider it the most effective form of exercise for building stamina.
I know when I began going to yoga classes some twenty years ago, stamina wasn’t my primary goal. It probably wasn’t even on my mind. I went to the university gym for that.
However, as the years flew by, and my yoga practice deepened, those trips to the gym were less and less frequent. And, my stamina grew as my yoga practice grew.
The truth is, yoga is an amazing way to build strength and stamina.
With so many different styles of yoga to choose from nowadays, it’s fairly easy to find a class at your local yoga studio or online, that’s actually geared towards building strength and stamina.
When you consider the ancient yogis with their almost supernatural ability to hold poses for hours on end—well, that’s stamina to the nth degree!
Let’s take a look at some of the best yoga poses and practices for building strength and stamina.
When we practice hatha yoga, we hold poses for long periods of time. When those poses are strength-building ones, we naturally build stamina.
Not only do you work just one muscle group, you work many muscle groups simultaneously. That’s the beauty of hatha yoga.
Most asana work the whole body—not just one muscle or one group of muscles.
Read: The Power of Vinyasa
Have you ever done a kundalini yoga sequence that feels more difficult than any other class you’ve ever taken? I know I have.
Many kundalini yoga kriyas are designed to build stamina. For example, the teacher might move you through a posture in which you hold your arms out to the sides for minutes on end.
On the surface, the posture appears to be simple, but when you do it, you realize just how difficult it really is.
Every time I do a kundalini sequence, I know in my body—without a doubt—that I am building stamina with every kriya.
Build Stamina with Specific Yoga Poses
Some postures are better than others for building strength and stamina. They’re the ones that cultivate muscle strength, and also suppleness.
Let’s take a look at the ones you should be focusing on if your goal is to increase stamina to tire less quickly and go the distance, so to speak.
Boat Pose (Navasana)
Try holding boat pose for a minute and you might begin to shake. Any time your body shakes, that’s a good sign you’re in the process of building strength and stamina.
When you cultivate core strength, as you do in boat pose, you’re increasing your endurance for all exercise because a strong core is central to stamina in all areas of movement.
Extended Side Angle Pose (Parsvakonasana)
Hold this posture for a while and feel just how strength naturally builds in different areas of the body. Also, notice how extended side angle pose lengthens your muscles. Any time a pose works to lengthen muscles, stamina increases.
Build Stamina With Conscious Breathing
Every endurance athlete knows just how important breath quality is to every endurance sport under the sun. As you know, yoga’s all about conscious breathing.
It’s also about working with the breath gradually, while learning how to breathe deeper and better.
Increasing lung and breath capacity is an integral part of building stamina. As your breath grows, your endurance grows with it. It’s as simple as that.
Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Every time you come into camel pose, pay attention to your breath. Practice filling your diaphragm with elongated breaths.
Wheel Pose (Chakrasana)
This is yet another great pose to do when focusing upon the breath for endurance purposes. Whenever you come into wheel pose, pay close attention to your inhalations and exhalations. Practice deep breathing as you open your entire body to the pose.
Build Stamina Through Focused Attention
Yoga also teaches us how to maintain focus when a pose gets difficult. This ability to stay disciplined and focused on the task at hand is an essential piece of the stamina puzzle.
Notice how the more you use your drishti in a pose, the more stamina you naturally begin to cultivate.
As you can see, yoga is an ideal practice if you want to cultivate stamina and overall endurance. All you need to do is set an intention to do so every time you take to your sticky mat!