For reasons unknown, contemporary society, even though aware of the benefits of Yoga for both physical as well as the mental health of an individual, continues to harbor the false stereotype and myth that Yoga is not a medium that can help you in gaining strength as compared to its alternatives of Gymming, etc.
In fact, most traditional asanas in Isha Yoga involve long holds (which help in improving and building endurance) and passive stretching (which increases passive flexibility). However, as yoga progresses, we're witnessing a shift toward dynamic movement as a means of gaining strength and improving active flexibility.
Yoga's physical practice is highly helpful for building strength for two primary reasons. The first is that it employs a great deal of repetition. When we repeat a motion, whether it's a Chaturanga or a Surya Namaskar, our muscles become progressively exhausted, allowing them to recuperate and grow stronger. Further, each yoga pose in any Isha Yoga program may be adjusted in a variety of ways to make it easier or more difficult. As yogis develop strength, it is simple to find more difficult progressions on the same basic lines that will enable them to continue improving.
Nonetheless, such expertise, as well as strength, requires adherence to some basic principles which have been listed to ensure that the Yogi doesn’t fall prey to injuries due to unjust execution or any other preventable reason.
All Isha Yoga Centres and gurus advise that Yogis ranging from beginners to experts begin from a warm-up which pushes your limits but doesn’t actively break them i.e. a warm-up which doesn’t waste excessive energy or exhaust the Yogi.
Skill followed by strength:
Another word of caution, start with skill-based work before moving onto strength-based Asanas and poses This is because, after a good warm-up, your energy levels are at the highest making skill-based work most effective. Now it's time to focus on your strength. One of the greatest ways to achieve this is with a brief but difficult (think really difficult) flow that you can repeat 1-3 times. Take a long pause in Childs pose after each iteration of the flow.
After you've used your maximum strength in the above, feel free to continue with the rest of your practice as usual. This might include more dynamic movement, slow endurance postures, breathing exercises, or whatever other goals you have.
Adhering to such a regime can go a long way in building strength over time. Stay tuned for more interesting Yoga tidbits.