It's a popular misconception to think that yoga is all about stretching. It's not. There is actual muscular work taking place, if and only if you are doing your poses correctly. One of the ways you can begin to strengthen your yoga game is by understanding what muscles need to work when so you can activate them. Essentially hollar at your hamstring in Warrior II and say, "hey buddy, can you help me out here"? Activating your muscles in a variety of poses, especially standing poses will help you strengthen your entire body while doing yoga. I am sharing with you a few exercise that you can do in order to build strength that you will need to call upon during your yoga postures.
STRENGTHEN YOUR UPPER BODY AND CORE:
What you'll need: a yoga block, a yoga mat and your fine self
Step 1: Grab a comfortable seat where you can have a straight spine and stack your shoulders over your hips. Take a block and hold it in-between your forearms. Your fingers should be spread out and finger tips pointing towards the ceiling. Your elbows should be parallel with your shoulders. Once you are in this position, begin squeezing the block. It won't move but you will begin to activate your upper arm, back and chest muscles. Perform 20-30 of these. This will improve your chaturangas and arm balances.
Step 2: Get your chaturanga and plank form on fleek. Take the block horizontally and make an "L" shape with your hands and place it at the corners of the block as a place holder. Come into a straight arm plank stacking shoulders, elbows and wrists. Push back through your heels and fortify your quadriceps. Feel the hips gathering and firming and bring the naval to the spine. Initial activation of the muscles begins here! Look in front of you about 6 inches and HOLD.
Step 3: Come down slowly, hugging the upper arms by the rib cage. Elbows should be pointing back. Come down 90 degrees and HOLD.
Step 4: Once you hit 90 degrees, press firmly into your hands, push back through the heels, fortify the legs and come back up to a straight arm plank. Do this movement in a very slow and controlled fashion.
STRENGTHEN YOUR HAMSTRINGS & GLUTES:
What you'll need: a yoga block, a yoga mat and your fine booty
Step 1: Place a block horizontally in-between your ankles and squeeze the block. It will be harder than you think to keep the block in place. Press the pubic bone into the mat. The upper body is in a sphinx like position, forearms in the ground, elbows stacked under shoulders and finger tips pointing forward. With control and activating the hamstrings and glutes, bring the block slowly towards the glutes.
Step 2: Once you reach the glutes, drive the block towards the ground with control slowly releasing the contracted hamstrings.
Step 3: Repeat this movement about 5-10 times. Hamstrings are needed in a variety of standing poses. This will help you strengthen your legs in standing poses versus relying on sheer flexibility which sometimes causes hyper extension in the bones, ligaments, etc. You get it...what I am telling you to do is WORK IT!