Use These 5 Yoga Poses to Strengthen and Tone Your Arms

Yoga, and certain yoga poses in particular, can strengthen and tone your full body. And when it comes to toning your arms, there are PLENTY of arm strengthening yoga poses for that!

Take, for example, the classic Chaturanga push-up. Doing just one of these shows how challenging – and thereby strengthening – that movement is for your wrists, forearms, biceps, triceps, and shoulders.

Sprinkle a few of these Chaturangas throughout your Vinyasa Yoga flow and you’ll feel a serious burn in no time! You do not need to use weights to get results.

You can use basic yoga poses and practices to strengthen and tone your arms.

Before You Start Practicing Arm Strengthening Yoga Poses, Here’s a Brief Word on Safety

More and more people practice yoga these days (millions in fact), which has made for an incredible spike in injuries. Repetitive movement, a vigorous practice, or plenty of both can cause serious injury.

Major injuries are often due to overuse or incorrect usage of joints and muscles. Wrist and shoulders top the injury list, specifically the rotator cuff.

Yoga Teachers: Should We Teach Chaturanga In Vinyasa Flow Classes?

Dennis Cardone, a professor of orthopedic surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center says, “Because yoga is thought to be a low impact exercise, there’s a perception that whatever you do on your mat is automatically safe but that’s simply not true.

This leads to a false sense of security and overconfidence; a dangerous mix that can result in a chronic issue in the long run.”

Because the shoulder joint and rotator cuff involve a complex muscle unit, you want to strengthen this area slowly and gently. Take your time in postures, transitions, and sequences to allow your muscles to gradually build strength.

If this area is weak, don’t try a full push-up, or an arm balance where you place all your body weight on one area. Involve another limb or other muscles to assist in modifying these postures.

For example: Side Plank. Instead of using one arm to bear the majority of your weight, place your bottom knee down so you omit almost half of your body weight while still gaining the benefits of the pose.

Remember to build strength gently, slowly, and gradually.

Here Are 5 Arm Strengthening Yoga Poses and Practices to Tone Your Arms:

Let’s explore some yoga poses and practices that will strengthen and tone the arms.

1. Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutation A)

We start with this classic Vinyasa Flow because it’s a perfect opportunity to warm the entire body up, but also focuses on the strength of the upper body and arms.

Vinyasa typically means that you move with your breath – some practitioners give each posture one breath. This is your practice. Go through your flow as slow or as fast as you’d like. Repeat as many times as necessary.

These postures move major joints in a wide range of motion and increase the circulation of synovial fluid in your joints. You may find this challenging or relaxing. Simply notice as you move through each form.

Let’s try it:

mountain pose

  • Inhale into Upward Salute


  • Exhale into Standing Forward Fold


  • Inhale into Halfway Lift


  • Exhale to step or float into Chaturanga


  • Inhale into Cobra



  • Inhale to walk or float into Standing Halfway Lift


  • Exhale into Standing Forward Fold


  • Inhale into Upward Salute


  • Exhale to draw your hands to heart center as you end back in Mountain Pose

mountain pose 
Note: Chaturanga Dandasana is one transition that can cause great injury if the shoulder is constantly moving below the elbow.

We weren’t created to do 50 Chaturangas in 60 minutes. Feel free to omit this transition altogether by simply staying in Plank (you may have your knees on the ground), and then transition directly to Cobra.

Learn the Difference Between Sun Salutation A + Sun Salutation B (Yoga Photo Tutorial)

2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

downward dog

Because we often visit Downward Facing Dog in a practice, it is at the top of our list of arm strengthening yoga poses.

As you gain strength, Downward Facing Dog may start to feel like a restful posture. It’s technically an inverted arm balance and therefore has many benefits.

Let’s try it:

  • From Tabletop, curl your toes to press into the earth and lift your hips upward
  • Lengthen your legs and bend your knees as much as you’d like
  • Place your feet a bit wider than hip-width apart
  • Lengthen your legs and arms
  • Allow your head to hang heavy
  • Externally rotate your shoulders and internally rotate your palms
  • Press the pad at the base of your index fingers into the earth, creating stabilization in your arms
  • Allow your head, neck, and upper shoulders to relax
  • Hold for a few deep breaths


Curious About Your Alignment In Down Dog? Watch This Yoga Pose Tutorial (Video)

3. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)

upward facing dog

You can transition easily from Downward Facing Dog into Upward Facing Dog for another arm strengthening yoga pose.

Upward Facing Dog will strengthen your arms as well as strengthen and stretch your wrists.

In addition, Upward Facing Dog opens and awakens the entire front body – chest, hip flexors, and neck. It will also strengthen the lower half of your body and help to align your spine.

Let’s try it:

  • From Plank, slowly lower your hips down to hover above the floor
  • Press your palms into the earth while lengthening your legs and flip the top of your feet to touch the floor
  • Lift the crown of your head toward heaven while you allow your chin to lift and your collarbone to broaden
  • Expand your shoulders and chest
  • Keep pressing into the earth, activating both of your arms
  • Breathe deeply here for a few breaths

Note: You may choose to practice Cobra (with your legs on the earth as opposed to lifted as they are in Up Dog). You will still get the many benefits of strengthening and toning your arms.

4. Vasisthasana (Side Plank)

side plank

As we move into a one-arm arm balance practicing Side Plank, it’s vital that you stabilize the shoulder joint. There are many variations of Plank and Side Plank, so modify as needed.

In any arm balance, it’s important to press into the earth and not “dump” into your shoulders. Press out of your shoulders and into the floor.

Let’s try it:

  • Begin in Plank. This will activate the muscles that you will use for any variation of your Side Plank
  • Lengthen your arms and engage your entire core
  • Roll onto the edge of your right foot or lower your right knee to the floor
  • Twist your torso to face toward the left side of your mat
  • Contract your right triceps as you expand through your chest and spread your weight into your right palm
  • Rest your left arm on your hip or reach it up toward the sky
  • Hold for a few deep breaths



5. Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)


This inverted arm balance is contrary to the way we spend most of our time as bipedal people. This arm strengthening yoga pose greatly builds up the stabilizers of the shoulder girdle.

Though this posture will strengthen the entire arm and shoulder area, the core stabilization of the pose will come from the pelvis. When the pelvis is stable, your full arm balance will be too.

Learning How to Handstand? This 15-Minute Class Lays the Foundation (Free Video)

Let’s try it:

  • Set up your yoga mat in front of a wall
  • Come into Downward Facing Dog facing the wall and step your right foot forward
  • Bend your right knee and shift your weight into your hands
  • Find a rocking rhythm as you shift your weight back and forth between your hands and feet to find your center of gravity
  • Lift your left leg off the floor and engage the entire leg from your calf to your glutes
  • When you’re ready, gently use momentum to kick up to balance on your hands
  • Tuck your right knee into your chest as you keep your left leg as straight and strong as can be
  • Use the wall for support as needed as you balance all your weight on your hands
  • Hold for a few deep breaths


Ready to Commit to Your Handstand Practice? Start Here!

This 7-class online yoga program on YA Classes builds the foundation for your handstand practice. From poses for strength and mobility, to learning on the wall, learning how to safely fall out of a handstand and moving away from the wall – this is where you journey to handstand begins!

Yoga Program
With Michelle Stanger


Build Stability With These Arm Strengthening Yoga Poses

Yoga is a journey, so enjoy it! As much as we want to do a posture and look like the “textbook” photograph, your goal should be to embrace the journey.

Have patience and grace with yourself. Many of these arm strengthening yoga poses take time to master and rushing will only defeat the purpose of the wonderful gifts of yoga.

Begin with one or two Sun Salutations a day and add on a posture or two of these arm strengthening yoga poses.

As you build strength, you can practice more Sun Salutations and add on different arm strengthening yoga poses as you go. This allows you time to become your strongest self.

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Michelle Thielen

Michelle Thielen, C-IAYT, is an international speaker, humanitarian, and author of Stretching Your Faith. As a Trauma Sensitive Yoga Therapist, Michelle aids in raising awareness and rescue efforts of human trafficked victims. Michelle founded YogaFaith and the Christian Yoga Association. She has been teaching and choreographing dance, yoga and somatic movement for 25 years.


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