In balancing cat pose the same side arm and leg are both extended.
This position is used as one of the tests (rotational stability) in Gray Cooks Functional Movement Screen. It's also an excellent way to practice balancing.
One of the first things that you can practice, even befor trying to balance, is spreading the shoulder blades to lift the ribcage. This action uses the serratus anterior muscle. When doing this action, you may find that your arm and shoulder feels more stable if you rotate the arms outwards. You can also try squeezing the elbow joint. If you aren't sure, or are having difficulty, practice lifting and lowering your ribcage. Note that I am not bending my spine backwards as I do this in the pictures below. I'm simply moving my ribcage relative to my shoulders.
The idea is to use this same action and keep it when supporting your weight on only one arm.
You can learn balancing cat pose in steps.
The first step is to lift the arm. On all fours:
When shifting your ribcage focus on feeling your hands. Notice when all of your weight is on one hand. The other arm may feel relaxed. Then you can lift that arm.
Make your neck feel long and reach that arm forwards.
Then relax and repeat.
Next with ribcage lifted at the shoulders,
When shifting your pelvis focus on feeling your knees. Notice when the weight of your pelvis is entirely over one knee. Then lift your other leg. Make your leg and spine feel long.
Then relax and repeat.
Next put these elements together for a complete balance exercise.
Focus on reaching forwards with the arm and back with the leg. Then release and repeat on the other side.
When I first started doing this pose I used to lift the leg first. But then I found it was easier to stay balanced when I lifted the arm first. Once you are used to this yoga pose you can try both options.
You can also experiment with shifting your weight fowards or backwards slightly. I find that when I shift my weight back the top of my back foot presses into the floor with more pressure. I can then use this foot to help make balancing cat pose easier.
Once you are used to balancing focus on making your arm, leg and spine long. And work at keeping your torso level from left to right so that the lifted limb side or your ribcage and pelvis is at the same height as your supporting limb side.
Note that their are also downward dog and plank variations of this yoga balance exercise.
Although this is mainly a balancing yoga pose, you can also use this yoga pose to strengthen the back of your body. Focus on using the hamstrings and glute of your lifted leg to lift the leg higher. And focus on using your spinal erectors to bend your spine backwards (and tilt your pelvis forwards) at the same time.
The seated get up is a way of getting into the one legged squat from a seated position. Even if you aren't interested in one leg squats this video does include tips on stabilizing the knees (at about the 5 minute mark.) Usual muscle activations for knee stability might include the quads, the hamstrings or any of the glutes. This looks at another set of muscles all together. If you like the video or find it helpful, please do share it! Thanks!
Some tips for learning how to do deep squats (without weight). The first tip is on how to stay balanced while squatting.
How do you learn the body weight safely? How do you work towards this pose even if you aren't sure if you are capable of doing it.
Basic yoga poses: standing, sitting, arm balances, binds, twists, inversions, back bending, front bends.
Scapular stabilization becomes a little bit harder when working agains the weight of the body. It can be easier to learn if you gradually increase the amount of body weight the scapular stabilizer muscles are working againsts..
Some hip flexor strengthening exercises.
These yoga poses can be used as arm strengthening exercises.
Turn yoga poses into leg strengthening exercises using floor pressing actions, leverage and friction.
One way of finding and fixing hip problems is to do standing hip strengthening exercises while balancing on one leg.
Knee anatomy for yoga teachers looks at the bones and muscles that comprise the back of the knee in simple terms.
Working towards a kneeling quadriceps stretch you first need to be able to kneel. If you have difficulty kneeling, you may find it helps to activate your quadriceps.
When doing quadriceps stretching it may help to activate and then relax your quadriceps in these standing, lunging, pigeon and supine yoga pose variations.
Some exercises and yoga poses for working towards a lying quadriceps stretch one leg at a time.
What are the benefits of the Dance of Shiva? Arm strength and balance, learning to learn and improving creativity.
This yoga routine video is designed to help you strengthen your arms and legs via the use of friction and pressure. It also teaches you how to become more aware of your body.
The transverse abdominis muscle can be broken down into three parts. Transverse abdominal exercises can thus affect the SI Joint, lumbar spine and the lower portion of the ribcage.
To improve the resiliency of your knees it can help to exercise them in a variety of positions. The following yoga poses can be used as knee strengthening exercises. The trick is to activate your knees while doing them.
Learn to consciously control your quads and hip flexors with Conscious Muscle Control: Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors. This downloadable video course teaches you how to feel and activate your quadriceps (the vastus muscles) as well as the rectus femoris, tensor fascae latae and sartorius muscles.
For any calf stretch you have to bend your ankle forwards to stretch the soleus and/or gastrocnemius. How you bend the ankle forwards can make the stretch more or less effective.
Yoga for flexibility with stretches for the hips, quads, hamstrings, glutes, psoas, shoulders and arms. These yoga stretches are designed to improve flexiblity.