Weightlifting and Yoga: 8 Strength Training Exercises for Yogis

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Joanne Highland

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Weightlifting and yoga

If you wish to build your body and gain more strength, incorporating a gym workout with free weights into your routines can complement your yoga practice, enhancing muscle flexibility and making the most out of each gym session.

Engaging in strength training and weight training during your gym workout will help you build muscles with free weights and get as strong as you desire, in addition to numerous other health benefits.

Below, we detail how yoga helps you build strength in muscles and improve flexibility and how you can get the most out of your gym workout routine by adding some weightlifting exercises and tweaking a few yoga poses for enhanced muscle training.

What is Yoga

Yoga is a widely known wellness practice that, much like a gym workout, helps people reach spiritual understanding and enlightenment through exercise and mindfulness techniques. Incorporating strength training elements and the importance of the exhale, each yoga session contributes to overall well-being.

The practice of yoga, often integrated into gym routines, stems from India and has evolved through its popularity. It complements workout regimens and strength training by enhancing muscle flexibility and balance and focusing on breath and body awareness.

Modern-day yoga still follows the principles and purposes of its roots but also promotes a healthier lifestyle for its practitioners, incorporating gym-like strength training and the importance of exhaling during a workout.

There are many ways for people to learn about yoga, including gym classes, workout tutorials, strength training programs, and weight management techniques. You can learn the basics of regular yoga through books, classes, online tutorials, and virtual lessons that help people learn how to practice this activity, including dynamic yoga and Ashtanga yoga, and make the most out of their yoga session.

To practice yoga at the gym, all one needs is a yoga mat, comfortable clothes, motivation, and a reasonable amount of space to stretch out. Then, it is a matter of engaging in regular yoga practice until you are ready to advance in your yoga journey to more intense poses for intermediate learners.

When you reach the advanced levels of yoga poses, you can perform poses that require more flexibility, similar to the endurance built through gym workouts and strength training. You will also reach a heightened spiritual and mindful enlightenment, taking your gym routine and strength training to new heights.

How Strength Training Plays Into Yoga

Yoga can aid with strength-building and muscle tone, but depending on your fitness goals — mainly if you aim to build significant muscle mass — you may need to add gym-based strength training like weightlifting to your routine.

Strength training at the gym will enable you to engage your muscles and target specific body areas to strengthen, sometimes incorporating yoga blocks for added support and alignment. As you move on to more intense yoga poses at the gym, you will require this strength to take on advanced poses more easily.

Plus, the added variety of exercises at the gym, including yoga and cardio, will decrease the risk of physical ailments and chronic conditions that these specific exercises can help prevent.

Enhancing Yoga Practice with Strength-Building Weightlifting Exercises

Several weight exercises can aid your strength goals, adding weights to your movements as you can. If you are still unsure what equipment to use, please get in touch with a personal trainer or instructor to help select the options most suited to your fitness level.

Hitting your strength targets doesn’t mean you must head to the gym or sign up for classes. You can integrate them into your at-home routine. Just grab yourself a pair of dumbbells and a quality weight bench, and you’re all set to tackle the workouts that’ll build your muscle strength right where you are.

How Yoga Can Help With Strength Training

Practicing yoga alongside strength training benefits the mind and body in many ways. Because of these yoga benefits, you may find it easier to transition to performing other gym exercises without much difficulty. 

  • Yoga aids in building flexibility and strength at the gym: The poses the body undergoes during yoga help develop core strength and train the body to become more flexible as time passes. Practicing yoga will make you less likely to sustain injuries when you perform strength exercises.
  • Mindfulness: Yoga focuses on mind and body awareness, so it helps clear the mind of distractions and negative thinking. Practicing yoga can help you focus on your technique and ensure you perform the poses appropriately.
  • Reduces Inflammation: The practice of specific yoga poses reduces the biochemical markers of inflammation in the body. Yoga poses that aid this include the downward-facing dog pose, the warrior 2 pose, the supine spinal twist, and the child’s pose.

    Inflammation occurs in the body during the recovery phase of strength training, similar to how one might feel after an intense power yoga session. Yoga’s impact on inflammation can reduce your recovery time and reduce the discomfort that you experience.

  • Reduces anxiety and stress: The calm and relaxing nature of yoga can help keep you in a clear and positive state of mind, ensuring that you stick with your strength training routine and meet your goals. This is because yoga involves breath awareness paired with each movement. Deep breathing aids in stress relief and eases the physical effects of anxiety.
How Yoga Can Help With Strength Training
  • Improves balance: Several poses in yoga help yogis improve their balance. This includes poses like Tree, Eagle, Half Moon, Side Plank, Dancer Poses, and many other yoga positions.

Practicing yoga will make you stronger by enhancing stability and promoting good balance. You’ll be more sure-footed while lifting your weights or using other equipment. The more off-balance you are, the higher your risk of injury while weightlifting.

Strength Yoga Poses

Here are some yoga poses that will help you build strength in and tone your body:

Crow Pose: This yoga arm balance pose is practiced by intermediate-level yogis. Despite this, yoga is also beneficial for even advanced yogis. Yogis use this asana to build muscle endurance and strength for more intricate arm balances.

Boat Pose: This pose focuses on core strength, essential to keep the body supported and stable in all other types of movement. This asana is easily modified for beginners, while advanced yoga students can level up their exercise by adding challenging variations.

Locust Pose: This yoga pose tones your entire body and is suitable for beginner and intermediate yoga practitioners. It primarily targets the back muscles, a crucial area of focus for weightlifters.

Warrior Pose: Builds muscle strength in your legs and glutes.

Triangle Pose: A fundamental asana in yoga that strengthens your obliques, arms, knees, and core muscles.

Yogi Pushup: A yoga-inspired four-limbed staff pose that helps build upper body strength and works out the body’s core.

Chair Pose: This yoga pose strengthens your quads, glutes, and ankles. It works on your core and arms as well.

Tree Pose: Engages core strength, glutes, and the muscles surrounding the hip joint and helps refine balance.

The yoga handstand Scorpion Pose, Crane Pose, Eight-Angle Pose, Forearm Stand, and Plank are all yoga poses that help build strength.

Weightlifting and yoga

Strength Training to Include in Yoga

Weightlifting is an excellent exercise to include alongside yoga when adding strength training to your exercise routine.

Goddess Squat, with an overhead press: This exercise utilizes the Goddess Squat pose, a wide-legged squat with shoulders stacked over the hips.

You can enhance your yoga practice by adding weights to this pose holding dumbbells level with your shoulders. Straighten your legs while pressing the dumbbells over your head, and return to the Goddess Squat position.

Plank row: Hold a plank position while using dumbbells. You pull the dumbbell towards your chest in reps while breathing.

Chair Pose With triceps extension: Use Chair Pose and add triceps extensions by holding the dumbbells in line with your shoulder and extending your arms alongside the body.

Reverse lunge with shoulder press: As you step into a reverse lunge, press one hand with the dumbbell upwards and bring it back down. Repeat on the other side.

Wrist curls: Kneel behind a flat bench and rest your forearms on the bench palms up, curl your wrists upwards slowly, and back into the resting position

Toe raises/ankle dorsiflexion exercise: Sit on a bench and hold a dumbbell between your feet; allow the weight of the dumbbell to pull your foot down and curl your toes upwards slowly.

Chest press: Lie flat on your back, hold the dumbbells at your shoulders, and press upwards before returning them to a neutral position.

Lateral shoulder raises: stand with a dumbbell in each hand down by your sides, raise your arms in line with your shoulders, and lower back into rest.

Other Training You Can Implement With Your Yoga

Other exercises that you can include in your routine are cardiovascular exercises. Think of your heart as a muscle that loves to exercise. When you rev up your heartbeat, you put it through a gym session. This strengthens your heart and lets blood flow smoothly through your body.

Cardio exercises improve your lung capacity, help you get more energy, and improve your sleep patterns. You will experience more stamina, which also helps with your weight loss goals.

Cardio also reduces the risk of developing heart conditions. Split your exercise routines over days and have rest days so you don’t overexert yourself.

Some exercises you can do at home are daily jogging, skipping, and burpees. If you have a treadmill or cycle at home, you can get in your cardio exercises using those.

While adding various types of exercises to your routine, you may also adjust your diet to work toward your goals. Include lean protein, dairy, complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, protein powder, and nuts.

Nutritional Strategies for the Yoga-Weightlifting Lifestyle

Optimizing Nutrition for Dual-Discipline Athletes

When embracing a lifestyle that combines the flexibility and mindfulness of yoga with the strength and intensity of weightlifting, nutrition plays a pivotal role in performance and recovery. The following guidelines are designed to support the unique demands of dual-discipline athletes:

  1. Balanced Macronutrient Distribution: Ensuring a well-rounded intake of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to fuel diverse workout requirements and aid in muscle repair and growth.
  2. Hydration and Electrolyte Balance: Maintaining adequate fluid intake and replenishing electrolytes lost during intense workouts to support overall cellular function and prevent dehydration.
  3. Timing of Nutrient Intake: Strategically consuming nutrients at critical times—such as a protein-rich meal or snack post-weightlifting and easily digestible carbohydrates before a session—to optimize energy levels and recovery.
  4. Mindful Eating Practices: Incorporating the principles of mindfulness from yoga into eating habits, focusing on whole, unprocessed foods and listening to the body’s hunger and fullness cues.
  5. Supplemental Support: Consider adding supplements such as BCAAs for muscle recovery, omega-3 fatty acids for inflammation, and vitamin D for bone health, mainly if dietary intake is insufficient.

By tailoring nutritional choices to the demands of both yoga and weightlifting, athletes can enhance their performance, expedite recovery, and maintain a harmonious balance between these two complementary disciplines.


By implementing other exercises, like cardio and strength training, into your pre-existing yoga routine, you will experience many benefits and positive physical changes that are not always achievable by yoga alone.

Conversely, yoga is also a great addition to weightlifting as it supports overall mobility, body awareness, and flexibility.

These two activities work together to keep your body strong and healthy at the gym or on your yoga mat. Combining yoga and weight training can be the secret to seeing the results you wish to see!

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About Joanne Highland

Joanne Highland is a 500-hour certified yoga and barre fitness teacher. Originally from the central coast of California, she attended the University of Southern California, graduating in 2007 with a degree in music and a minor in health promotion. Follow me: Instagram | LinkedIn | Personal Website

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