Your favorite yoga pose says a lot about your preferred kinds of movement. Love forward fold? You must find freedom in flexibility. Can’t get enough of chair pose? You’re all about strength. Some asanas have singular purposes, it’s true. But plenty of poses work double-duty to strengthen and lengthen your muscles at the very same time, says Jess Penesso, yoga teacher and founder of The Sweat Method.
“It is so important to balance strength with stretching for healthy joints that allow you to practice yoga your whole life,” says Penesso. “If we are only stretching and not strengthening in our yoga practice, we run the risk of putting unnecessary stress on our cartilage where our bones meet at our joints. Because we don’t have nerves in our cartilage, we don’t realize we’re wearing this down until it’s gone and there is an injury.” A handful of yoga poses strengthen the muscles while you stretch to decrease wear-and-tear in the cartilage.