Upper Body Workout

10 Yoga Poses for Upper Body Workout: Build, Tone, and Transform

Yoga is a great way to improve your fitness and offers a range of benefits, from increasing flexibility and mental clarity to enhancing strength and endurance. Although most people associate yoga with flexibility and relaxation, it can also be a highly effective way to build strength in your upper body. Practicing yoga regularly can challenge your muscles, increase your strength and stability, and improve your overall well-being.

Strengthening your upper body through yoga can enhance your physical appearance and improve your posture, minimize the chances of injury, and maintain the muscles essential for everyday activities. This guide covers eight yoga poses that focus on building strength in the arms, shoulders, chest, and back.

Benefits Of Yoga To Strength Upper-Body 

Yoga yields numerous benefits beyond physical strength, especially when focused on the upper body. Here's a closer look at how strengthening your upper body through yoga can positively impact various aspects of your life:

  1. Regularly practicing upper-body strength meditation helps correct posture by building the muscles necessary to support spinal alignment. This makes you look taller and more confident and reduces back pain and the likelihood of posture-related issues.
  2. Many yoga poses for upper-body strength also engage and strengthen the core, vital for overall stability, balance, and lower back health.
  3. Strong muscles are less susceptible to strains and sprains by improving strength and flexibility.
  4. The mindful aspect of yoga helps reduce stress and promotes mental clarity. Physical activity, including yoga, releases endorphins and natural mood lifters.
  5. Weight-bearing yoga poses can help increase bone density, crucial for preventing osteoporosis and maintaining bone health as one ages. Performing these poses on a yoga mat ensures safety and support, making it a critical component of your yoga practice.

8 Yoga Poses For Upper Body Workout

Let's delve into upper-body yoga poses, exploring their nuances, benefits, and step-by-step instructions to ensure you get the most out of your practice.

Plank Pose 

To strengthen the core, arms, shoulders, and back.


  1. Start on all fours, ensuring your wrists are directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Step your feet back, one at a time, extending your legs fully behind you. Engage your thighs to lift them off the mat slightly.
  3. Press the ground away with your hands, spreading your fingers wide for better stability.
  4. Engage your core by drawing your belly button towards your spine, and ensure your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels.
  5. Gazing down at the yoga mat just in front of your hands, keep your neck long and in line with your spine.
  6. Hold the position for 30 seconds to a minute, breathing deeply and evenly.
Upper Body Workout

Four-Limbed Staff Pose

To strengthen the arms, shoulders, wrists, and core.


  1. Start in Plank Pose with your body in a straight line.
  2. Shift slightly forward on your toes, bringing your shoulders slightly ahead of your wrists.
  3. Exhale and bend your elbows, keeping them close to your body as you lower halfway down to the mat, maintaining a straight line from your head to your heels.
  4. Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle, aligned with your torso.
  5. Hold a few breaths before releasing to the mat or pushing back to Plank Pose.
Upper Body Workout

Downward-Facing Dog Pose

Downward Facing dog pose strengthens and stretches the shoulders, arms, and back.


  1. Begin in Plank Pose. Lift your hips up and back, pressing into your hands and lengthening your spine.
  2. Spread your fingers wide and push the floor away to straighten your legs while keeping your heels reaching the ground.
  3. Your head should be between your arms, with your ears in line with your upper arms. Keep your gaze towards your navel.
  4. Ensure your back is flat and your body forms an inverted V-shape.
  5. Hold the pose for 1-3 minutes, deepening the stretch with each exhalation.
Upper Body Workout

Side Plank Pose

To strengthen the shoulders, arms, and obliques and improve balance.


  1. Begin in Plank Pose. Shift your weight onto your right hand as you rotate your body to open to the side, stacking your feet on top of each other.
  2. Extend your left arm towards the ceiling, creating a straight line from your right wrist to your left fingertips.
  3. Engage your core and lift your hips to avoid sinking in the middle.
  4. Turn your gaze towards your top hand, keeping your neck long and aligned with your spine.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute before switching sides.
Upper Body Workout

Cobra Pose

To strengthen the spine, shoulders, and arms and open the chest and lungs.


  1. Lie prone on your stomach with your legs extended back and the tops of your feet pressing into the meditation mat.
  2. Place your hands under your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to your body.
  3. Inhale and press into your hands to lift your chest off the floor, extending your arms as much as comfortable. Keep your pubic bone in contact with the mat to protect your lower back.
  4. Engage your back muscles and open your chest, drawing your shoulder blades towards each other and down your back.
  5. Hold for 15-30 seconds, breathing deeply, then gently release back to the mat on an exhale.
Upper Body Workout

Upward-Facing Dog Pose

Build strength in the spine, arms, and wrists, and improve posture.


  1. Begin in Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose). Straighten your arms to lift your thighs and knees off the floor, transferring your weight onto the tops of your feet and your hands.
  2. Press down onto the floor with your hands, spreading your fingers wide.
  3. Engage your legs and core to support the lift, ensuring your shoulders are directly over your wrists.
  4. Draw your shoulders back and down, opening your chest forward and up.
  5. Hold an upward-facing dog pose for 15-30 seconds, focusing on lengthening your spine and opening your chest.
Upper Body Workout

Dolphin Pose

To strengthen the shoulders, arms, and core and prepare for advanced inversions.


  1. Start on your hands and knees. Ensure your elbows are positioned directly below your shoulders, and clasp your hands together. You can use a meditation cushion to keep your elbow in a comfortable position.
  2. Tuck the toes and lift your hips towards the ceiling, straightening your legs as much as possible to form an inverted V-shape.
  3. Press firmly into your forearms and hands. 
  4. Draw your chest towards your thighs and your heels towards the floor. 
  5. While doing this, keep your head and neck relaxed, gazing towards your feet. 
  6. Hold the Dolphin pose position for 30 seconds to a minute while breathing deeply.
Upper Body Workout

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Crow Pose builds arm and wrist strength, improves balance, and strengthens the core.


  1. Start in a squat with your feet slightly apart. Place your hands on the floor in front of you, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Spread your fingers and press into the ground, creating a strong foundation.
  3. Come onto the balls of your feet and open your knees wider than your arms.
  4. Lean forward, transferring your weight into your hands, and place your knees on the backs of your upper arms.
  5. Engage your core and lift your feet off the ground, balancing on your hands.
  6. Focus your gaze forward and hold briefly before returning to the squat position.
Upper Body Workout

Staff Pose (Dandasana)

A foundational seated pose that promotes good posture and strengthens the upper body. This pose engages the back, shoulders, and core.


  • Sit on the yoga mat with your legs out straight.
  • Point your toes up and press your heels down.
  • Place your hands on the floor next to your hips with your fingers pointing forward.
  • Tighten your leg muscles and straighten your lower back.
  • Sit up tall, keeping your chest open and shoulders relaxed.
  • Hold the staff pose, breathing deeply, for several breaths.
Upper Body Workout

Firefly Pose (Tittibhasana)

An advanced arm balance that builds upper body strength and improves balance. This challenging firefly pose requires flexibility and core stability.


  • Start in a squat position with your feet wide apart.
  • Place your hands on the floor behind your heels, fingers pointing forward.
  • Raise your hips by shifting your weight onto your hands.
  • Straighten your legs out to the sides, engaging your core for balance.
  • Lift your feet off the ground, using your inner thighs to squeeze your upper arms.
  • Hold the pose, maintaining steady breaths, then gently lower your feet back to the ground.
Upper Body Workout


Yoga for upper-body strength is an enriching practice that offers more than just physical benefits. It's a holistic approach that nurtures the mind, body, and spirit. Incorporating poses like Plank, Chaturanga Dandasana, and Downward-Facing Dog into your routine can significantly improve strength, posture, and overall health. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Yoga Replace Traditional Weight Training For Upper-Body Strength?

Yoga can significantly improve upper-body strength but may only replace traditional weight training for some. Depending on your fitness goals, yoga can be an excellent primary form of strength training or a complementary practice to weight lifting.

How Often Should I Practice Yoga For Upper-Body Strength?

Aim to practice upper-body strength poses 2-3 times weekly for noticeable improvements. Consistency, listening to your body, and allowing adequate rest are key.