You can use cobra pose to strengthen your arms as well as the muscles of your back.
Use your arms in this basic yoga pose to pull your ribcage forwards and up. Pull it away from your pelvis. At the same time use your spinal erectors to bend your lumbar and thoracic spine backwards.
Because the pelvis stays on the floor, the elbows usually have to stay bent.
To enter into bujangasana (another name for cobra pose), lay down with your elbows bent and your hands just ahead of your elbows.
Lift your head and make your neck feel long by pulling your head away from your ribcage.
Without using your arms (keep them relaxed) bend your thoracic spine backwards so that your ribcage peels off of the floor. Do this slowly so that you can focus on bending backwards at each joint of your thoracic spine. (Work your way from the top of the thoracic spine to the bottom.)
To help deepen the back bend of your ribcage try moving your back ribs away from your pelvis.
If your spinal erectors are already active, lifting the ribs should be a little bit easier. (The levator costalis muscles, which lift the back of the ribs, are located beneath the spinal erectors. If the erectors are active it is relatively easy to activate the levator costalis also.)
How do you know if you are using your spinal erectors?
You'll feel them contracting up and down either side of your spine.
To make them stronger focus on increasing this contracted feeling.
Press your hands into the floor enough to support the weight of your ribcage and head. Use your arms to pull your ribcage forwards, away from your pelvis. Point your elbows back and move your shoulders down, away from your ears.
Keep your spinal erectors active, even as you use your shoulders and arms.
Adjust your hands so that you can press your palms flat to the floor while spreading your fingers at the same time.
Look forwards in cobra pose and pull your chin in, towards your chest. At the same time pull the back of your head back and up so that your neck feels long.
Keep your knees straight and the front of your pelvis on the floor.
Reach your knees back, away from your hip joints (to create space in the hip joint) and reach your toes back also.
You could also try pressing the tops of your feet into the floor. Imagine using this action to help lift the knees... just a little bit.
For extra support try to dig the inside edges of your shoulder blades into your back. Press your palms flat, into the floor and press your fingers down at the same time.
For extra charm, lift your eyebrows. (Do snakes have eyebrows? Probably not.)
Consciousness is like the Captain of a ship. At times the ship it commands can be very big with lots of sailors to tell what to do, at other times the captain is sailing solo, taking care of the sails and the tiller.
This is a mini-routine that I've been using in my classes recently to teach awareness and control of the foundation in poses like
table top, high lunge, low lunge, extended cat pose, and yoga push ups (leading to chaturanga dandasana.)
This can lead to smoother and more mindful movement.
Tensegrity basics: tension doesn't just integrate the body, it can be used for proprioception and for responsiveness and quicker reactions.
What is proper yoga alignment for handstand? Why not learn to feel and control your shoulders and ribcage so that you can learn to feel when your body is best aligned.
In this video some tips for body weight squat and the one legged pistol squat with a focus on "feeling your body."
Why do a pistol squat? To improve hip strength and left/right hip balance. This may help to alleviate low back pain.
This dance of shiva video playlist includes cyclic movement combinations: F-F, B-B, F-B, B-F, CF-CF, CB-CB, CF-CB, CB-CF.
Learn how to stabilize the shoulder and hip in side plank.
This video goes over some basic body awareness exercises you can do while working towards side plank.
This Beginners Yoga Routine is from the ebook Yoga Basics 2, Muscle Control and Stability Exercises for More Flexible Hamstrings. It's designed to introduce a sequence of basic yoga poses.
Having trouble getting your heels down in downward facing dog? Here's an easy way to sink them lower included with a discussion on how to use downward dog as a preparation for wheel pose.
In triangle pose work on hip stability and foot and leg control to help sink the ribcage towards the leg.
Simple instructions for getting into yoga tree pose and how to make both sides even while doing this yoga balancing pose.
The following is a series of gentle yoga for back pain relief. The head is supported in nearly all postures allowing the muscles of the back and hip to relax in a variety of positions.
Conscious proprioception is the ability to focus awareness on discrete elements of the body. It can lead to easier learning of physical activities or simply better movement and body control.
Lots of people hate purvottanasana. Try pushing the hands forwards against the floor to make revese plank/straight bridge easier.
An overview of the sequence of ashtanga yoga poses with links to more detailed descriptions.
Turn forward bending and backbending yoga poses into hamstring strengthening exercises for better hamstring awareness and control.
Yoga Basics 1, Learning to create space in your body and balancing space and tension to create a yoga pose that is "alive" with minimum effort.
Grouped yoga poses including: sun saluates, backbends, forward bends, binds, arm balances, twisting poses, standing poses, seated poses. Poses are grouped to make it easier to create a balanced and complete yoga practice.
To become more body aware you can isolate body parts and focus on the feet, the spine or the breath. It doesn't matter what part of the body you start of with so long as you start somewhere.
Some simple exercises to help you prepare for and balance in crow pose and some suggestions for advanced movements like jumping from bakasana into chaturanga dandasana.
Back Bending Anatomy