Muscles Function – Upper Body

When one starts studying Yoga at Tirisula, one finds that Yoga goes beyond than deep stretches and challenging poses. During my 200hr YTT, I am discovering the many faces of Yoga. Yoga is science, human anatomy, physiology and philosophy. Yoga is Asanas, is Karma, is Prana and Dhyana. Yoga is every cell of our bodies in union with the universe.

The 200hr course is just a beginning of a life journey of studies and dedication, if one wants to become a true Yogi.

For me, I am enjoying this course, and trying to learn as much as possible in a short period of time. What I learn in these 6 weeks, will be the foundation to know myself and what direction I want to pursue in Yoga.

With all the hard work in mind, I worked on a paper with the main muscles of the body and their function. I also added the exercises and Yoga poses that use these muscle groups. It was a lot work to find the poses that are related to each muscle and I had to use an Anatomy Book to help me with that. I used Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews and also many Internet researches.

I hope this will help us on this important portion of becoming a Yoga Teacher.

Please feel free to add and make comments if you don’t agree with some of the poses that I used. The work is divided in two parts: Upper Body and Lower Body

Mitania Bailer 200hr YTT Nov, 2013



Rectus Abdominis Function – Flexion & Lateral Flexion/Tilting pelvis backwards

Exercise – Sit-ups, Partial Curl-ups, Pelvic Tilts, Hanging Lift

Yoga Poses: Navasana/ Backbends/ Halasana


External Pectoralis Major Function – Shoulder flexion, extension, adduction, internal rotation, & horizontal adduction

Exercises – push-ups pull-ups, incline bench press, regular bench press, climbing a rope, throwing, and tennis serve

Yoga Poses: Chaturanga / Crow Pose/ Dhanurasana /

Deltoid Function – Entire muscle: shoulder abduction; Anterior fibers: shoulder flexion, internal rotation, & horizontal adduction; Posterior fibers: external rotation & horizontal abduction

Exercises- Lateral “butterfly” exercises (abduction)

Yoga Poses: Warrior I & II / Downward Facing Dog / Full Arm Balance


Latissimus Dorsi Function – Shoulder Extension, adduction, horizontal abduction, & internal rotation

Exercises – Chin-ups, rope climbing, dips on parallel bars, rowing, any exercise puling the arms downward against resistance

Yoga Poses: Adho Muhka Savasana / Hand Stands / Upward Bow (Wheel Pose)


Teres Major Function – Shoulder extension, adduction, & internal rotation

Exercises – Chin-ups, seated rows, “lat” pull-downs, rope climbing

Yoga Poses:) Dolphin Pose / Reverse Prayer / Eagle Pose ( Garudanasana)


Teres Minor Function- Laterally rotates arm

Yoga Poses: Dolphin Pose / Reverse Prayer / Eagle Pose ( Garudanasana)


Biceps Brachii Function – flexion at elbow, supination at forearm

Exercises – Arm curls, chin-ups, rock climbing, upright rowing

Yoga Poses: Kukkutasana / Bhujapidasana / Feathered Peacock Pose


Triceps Brachii Function – Extension at elbow, arm extension

Exercises – push-ups, dips, bench press, shoulder press

Yoga Poses: Utthita Trikonasana / Cow Face Pose / Chaturanga


Internal Oblique Function – Ipsilateral Rotation, Lateral Flexion and Forward Flexion

Exercise – Side Planks, Curl-ups with rotation, Side Bends

Yoga Poses: Parivritta Janu Sirsana / Marichyasana / Vakrasana ( Twisted Pose)


External Oblique Function- compresses abdominal contents, lateral rotation, and draws thorax downward

Yoga Poses: Inverted Pose (Viparita Karani) / Belly Twist / Side Plank Pose


Transverse Abdominis Function – Compresses Abdomen

Exercise – Prone Plank & Drawing In Manuever

Yoga Poses: Revolved Abdomen Pose / Marichyasana D / Vakrasana


Erector Spinae Function – Extension and Lateral Flexion

Exercise – Squat, Dead Lift, Prone Back Extension (Cobra)

Yoga Poses: Seated Forward Bend / Locust Pose / Paschimottanasana


Esternocleidomastoideus: The function of this muscle is to rotate the head to the opposite side or obliquely rotate the head. It also flexes the neck. When acting together it flexes the neck and extends the head.

Yoga Poses: Warrior II / Utthita Trikonasana / Marichyasana D


Subscapularis Function- The subscapularis rotates the head of the humerus medially (internal rotation); when the arm is raised, it draws the humerus forward and downward. It is a powerful defense to the front of the shoulder-joint, preventing displacement of the head of the humerus.

Yoga Poses: Natarajasana ( King of the dancers Pose) / Reverse Prayer


Lavator Scapulae Function – Elevation of Scapula

Exercise – Shoulder Shrugs

Yoga Poses: Virabhadrasana I & II / Utkatasana


Rhomboid Major & Minor Function – Adduction, Downward Rotation, Elevation of Scapula

Exercise – Chin-ups, Bent-over Dumb bell rolls

Yoga Poses: Prasarita Padotanasana C / Parsvottanasana / Baddha Padmasana


Upper Trapezius Function – upward rotation & elevation

Exercise – Shoulder Shrugs & Upright seated rows

Yoga Poses: Downward Facing Dog / Arm Stand Poses


Middle Trapezius Function – upward rotation & adduction

Exercise – Shoulder Shrugs & Upright seated rows

Yoga Poses: Karnapidasana / Camel Pose / Fish Pose


Lower Trapezius Function – depression of scapula & down rotation

Exercise – Shoulder Shrugs & Upright seated rows

Yoga Poses: Warrior II / Fish Pose / Upward Facing Dog


Pectoralis Minor Function – Stabilization, Scapula Depression, Downward Rotation & Abduction Scapula

Exercise – Push-ups, Incline Bench Press, Cable Crossover Chest Fly

Yoga Poses: Parsvottanasana ( Reverse Prayer) / Fish Pose / Warrior I (arms up open wide)


Pectoralis Major Function- Adducts and medially rotates arm

Yoga Poses: Natarajasana ( King of the Dancers Pose) / Cobra Pose / Prasarita Padottanasana


Serratus Anterior Function – Stabilization, Scapula Depression, Upward Rotation of the Scapula

Exercise – Push-ups, Incline Bench Press, Pull-over

Yoga Poses: Chaturanga / Royal Pigeon Pose / Utthita Parsvottanasana


Flexor Carpi Radialis Function – wrist flexion

Exercises – wrist curls, grip-strengthening exercises for racquet sports


Flexor Carpi Ulnaris Function – wrist flexion

Exercises – wrist curl


Extensor Carpi Radialis longus Function – Wrist extension

Exercises – reverse wrist curls, racquet sport


Extensor Carpi Ulnaris Function – wrist extension

Exercises – reverse wrist curls


Reference: Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and

Mitania Bailer 200hr, Nov 2013