When we think of building strength, yoga might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Believe it or not, a few static stretches  and poses can boost strength considerably. By using one’s own body weight, the results could match (or even surpass) workouts with weights! Here are the top five poses you can do to develop strength.

Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)

Top 5 Yoga Poses That Develop Strength

How It Builds Strength:

The Boat Pose, also known as Paripurna Navasana, is an ab and deep hip strengthener. It requires balancing on the tripod of sitting bones and tailbone. The Boat Pose, too targets the rectus abdominus. Hip flexors, quadriceps and the erector spinae muscles of the back are also strengthened by this pose.

The Pose:

The Boat Pose is entered from a seated position. After lengthening the spine, the knees are bent. Engaging the thigh muscles, the feet are lifted off the floor. The knees can remain bent or straightened if flexibility allows. While reaching the arms forward, shoulders are softened away from the ears. This pose is usually held for five to eight breaths.

Side Plank (Vasisthasana)

Top 5 Yoga Poses That Develop Strength

How It Builds Strength:

The Side Plank, also known as Vasisthasana, works the entire body. This asana helps condition the core — especially the oblique muscles. Side Plank builds strength in the shoulders, arms, wrists and abdomen. The legs are also completely engaged in this pose.

The Pose:

The pose is done by starting in a downward dog position — also known as Adho Mukha Svanasana. The body weight is then shifted onto the edge of the left foot, with the right foot being stacked on top of the left foot. While swinging the right arm onto the right hip, the torso is turned to the right as well. With the entire weight of the body supported on the outer of the left foot and hand, the right arm is extended upward. For extra support, the lower knee can be kept on the floor. The pose can be held for 5 to 10 breaths before being repeated for the other side.

Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

Top 5 Yoga Poses That Develop Strength

How It Builds Strength:

The Chair Pose, also known as Utkatasana, does more than work the arm and leg muscles; also stimulating the diaphragm and heart. It creates strength in the legs by contracting the hip flexors, glutes, adductors and quadriceps. The Chair Pose also builds the trunk by engaging the rectus abdominus along the body’s front.

The Pose:

The Chair Pose starts by standing with the feet together. While sitting back deeply, as if on a chair, the arms are stretched upwards. Having the shins move back, helps shift the weight away from the toes — it prevents stress on the knees. Utkatasana can be held for five breaths, before releasing and coming back to a standing position.

Warrior I Pose (Virabhadrasana I)

Top 5 Yoga Poses That Develop Strength

How It Builds Strength:

Virabhadrasana I, also known as Warrior Pose 1, completely works the lower body. It strengthens the many areas of the lower limbs: the quadriceps, glutes and the erector spinae muscles along the back. As a bonus, this pose helps in stretching the hip flexors of the back leg, while the front leg is contracting.

The Pose:

Virabhadrasana I, is started by having the feet together and taking a big step back. The front foot tracks straight ahead, while the knee aligns along the ankle. Back foot is angled at 45 degrees. With the hips positioned squarely forward, arms are raised overhead. To engage the core, the ribs are drawn in. This pose is usually held for five breaths.

Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga)

Top 5 Yoga Poses That Develop Strength

How It Builds Strength:

Chaturanga is a great pose for building the upper body. This asana develops the core while lengthening the spine. Apart from toning the abdomen, Chaturanga helps to strengthen the biceps, triceps and wrists. The thighs, buttox, shoulders and feet are all engaged when doing this pose.

The Pose:

The Chaturanga is first done by standing in forward bend and stepping four to five feet back — into a push-up position. The body is then slowly lowered toward the floor, while being kept in a straight line. Elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle and kept close to the ribcage. For a simpler variation, the knees can be brought to the floor before lowering down. The pose can be held for one to four breaths.

These poses have the bonus of not only increasing strength, but conditioning flexibility too. To prevent injuries, perform weight bearing yoga postures with proper alignment and form.