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7 Strengthening, Standing Yoga Poses For Spring

7 Strengthening, Standing Yoga Poses For Spring

By Tiffany Griffith, Contributing Blogger

One of my favorite things about yoga is practicing outside. Understandably, though, there are times when you don't want to put your hands down or do poses that can get dirty. 

The following seven poses (or asanas) are powerful strengthening, energizing, and balancing movements you can do outside, anywhere, standing up. Do them individually, in a sequence as a flow, or add them to your favorite current routine. 

These poses are heat-building and will have your muscles fired up and your heart pumping. To maximize this benefit, move slowly. I like to imagine I'm moving through a giant pool of honey. 

Let's build strength - the yogi way!

Chair Pose

Chair pose, also called the "Powerful Pose" or "Fierce Seat," and you'll feel why as soon as you try it. 

Benefits: This pose is an intense leg sculpting and total body strengthening asana targeting your core, shoulders, thighs, feet, and ankles. It’s great for enhancing balance and coordination. 

How To: Standing tall, inhale your arms overhead so that your biceps are close to, and slightly in front of, your ears. Keep your spine long, exhale, and bend your knees, squatting low to the ground. Try to get your thighs as parallel to the floor as possible. Imagine you're sitting back on the edge of a bench. Hold for 5-6 breaths or as long as feels right. 

From here, bring your hands to heart center and twist to each side for a fantastic spinal stretch. You can really intensify the impact of this pose by raising up onto your toes. Come out of this movement by standing slowly, engaging your legs and core as you rise. 


Eagle can be challenging at first, but it's not as complicated as it might seem. Focus is critical for getting your limbs to align while maintaining balance. 

Benefits: This pose is excellent for joint health: your knees, ankles, hips, shoulders, and elbows get flushed with fresh, oxygenated blood in this compression posture. It strengthens your legs, core, back, and arms, too.  

How To: Stand tall, grounding through your feet. Bend both knees, shift your weight to your right foot and lift your left foot off of the ground. Once you feel balanced, wrap your left thigh over the top of your right leg and hook your left foot behind your right calf. Don't force this - if you can't hook your foot around, get as close as you can. 

Keep your knees facing forward. Swing your right arm under your left and wrap your arms around each other, making prayer hands at heart center. Pressing the palms of your hands together, push down through your shoulders and spread your scapula. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze your legs, arms, and core for 5-6 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe 


Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe pose can make you feel powerful - requiring you to stay rooted and strong to maintain balance with your leg fully extended.

Benefits: This asana strengthens the hip flexors, core, legs (especially quadriceps), back, shoulders, and arms while providing a deep stretch to the hamstrings. 

How To: Standing tall, shift your weight to your right leg and hover your left foot off the ground. Using the first two fingers of your left hand, grab your left big toe; we call this the yogi toe lock. Grabbing that foot, press through your heel and straighten your knee as much as you can. Your standing leg should stay firm, the knee straight and soft (don't "lock" your knee.) 

Lift your sternum, straighten your back, and engage your core and quadriceps. Hold here for a few deep breaths, and without dropping your leg, extend that left leg to the side at a 90-degree angle. You might want to counterbalance this by extending your right arm and looking to the right. Breathe and hold here. Repeat on the other side. 

Warrior 2

Warrior 2 is a mighty, invigorating pose, opening the rib cage and encouraging deep, rhythmic breathing while building strength. 

Benefits: This pose strengthens the entire body, targeting the quadriceps, hip flexors, glutes, inner thighs, core, and back. It’s also a great opener for your hips and chest.

How To: From standing, step your left leg back behind you and bend deeply into your front leg. Make sure your front knee doesn't go past your ankle; your leg should form a 90-degree angle. 

Keeping your weight evenly distributed, press through the outer edge of your back foot and sink into this squat, engaging the leg muscles. Extend your right arm in front and left arm behind, firming through your arms and core. Hold for 5-6 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Half Moon

Half moon is a beautiful pose that’s said to unite the energies from the moon (calm, soothing) and the sun (powerful, intense) to bring vitality and balance. 

Benefits: A powerful core, obliques, back, and shoulder strengthening movement, this pose improves your balance and coordination. It’s also known to relieve hip and back pain and improve digestion

How To: From Warrior 2, shift your weight into your front foot and pick your back foot off the ground. Once you've rooted through your standing leg, place your right hand fingertips on the ground directly beneath your shoulder - or on your knee, ankle, or a block (like me.) 

Kick your left leg up until it's parallel to the ground and raise your left arm toward the sky. Slowly twist open your hips and torso. Hold here and breathe. Exit the same way you came in and repeat on the other side. 


Malasana also known as the yogi squat or Garland Pose. In its fullest expression, your arms wrap around your legs to represent the mala or a garland of prayer beads. 

Benefits: This pose maintains hip, knee, and ankle mobility and flexibility while building functional leg strength. It’s excellent for calming, relieving stress, and releasing trapped emotions. 

How To: From standing with your feet slightly more than hip width apart, point your toes out and squat down. Be mindful of your knees and joints, keeping leg muscles engaged and your heels on the ground

In your deepest squat, exhale and lean your torso forward between your thighs. Bring your hands together, press your elbows against your inner knees to open the hips more. Hold for 5-6 breaths. Exit by slowly rising from your squat to standing, inhale, and repeat.

Dancer Pose

Dancer Pose is equal parts beauty and power - an elegant posture that looks and feels fantastic, opening the heart and cultivating balance. 

Benefits: Strengthens the back, feet, legs, shoulders, arms, and joints while improving coordination and balance. 

How To: Choose a spot to gaze at for balance. From standing, shift your weight to your right leg, and kick your back left foot up into your hand. Grabbing a hold of the inside of your foot, kick toward the sky, arching into your back. 

Extend your right arm in front of you and hinge at the hips, leaning your weight forward. Hold for 5-6 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Yoga Strong & Grounded 


I hope you feel inspired to put on your coziest yoga set and take your practice outside for a strengthening standing flow. These poses make you feel powerful and prove that you don't have to break your back in the gym to gain strength.

Keep in mind that easily accessible poses like Chair, Eagle, and Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe are excellent for building muscle with zero equipment. And don't neglect the expansive, stretching, and strengthening prowess of postures like Warrior 2, Half Moon, Malasana, and Dancer Pose. Happy spring, yogis!

*Tiffany has been practicing yoga for 15+ years - she shares her passion for health, wellness, healing, and sustainable living in her work. See more at www.TiffanyGriffith.net