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.)
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.
Forward head posture can result from computer work, stress, or poor body awareness. Here's some simple exercises to help feel your way into better posture.
In Bridge yoga pose increase the back bend of the hips and lumbar spine by moving the sacrum. Rather than saying which position is better the idea is to experiment and notice how both positions feel. And you may find the action of moving back and forwards between both positions helps you to get deeper into the backbend.
Work towards yoga lotus one leg at a time with exercises for closing the knee, stretching the hip rotators, practicing external rotation of the shin and activating and shaping the foot and ankle.
Basic movements of the sacroiliac joint are nutation (or nodding forwards) and counter nutation. Practice with these simple si joint exercises.
A variety of hamstring strengthening exercises while belly up, belly down and standing.
Shoulder flexibility stretches with scapular awareness. In these shoulder stretches first focus on positioning the scapula and then on stretching the shoulder.
Cognitive flexibilty is the ability to recognize a change in rules and act on those changes. It is also the ability to redefine rules as required. Dance of Shiva is one way of practicing and improving mental flexibility.
Yoga for flexibility with stretches for the hips, quads, hamstrings, glutes, psoas, shoulders and arms. These yoga stretches are designed to improve flexiblity.
A selection of standing and seated hamstring stretches, both gravity assisted and muscle assisted for improving hamstring flexibility. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Here's the latest set of exercises that I use for stretching the hamstrings.
The exercises are designed to teach active hip flexion using a variation of boat pose.
Then the same action is (ideally) duplicated in seated forward bend.
This set of exercises is part of the introduction to the Hip Control Guide.
In this latest video I show you a couple of techniques that I use to get into the front-to-back splits. Note that this is both a hip flexor/psoas stretch as well as a hamstring (and hip extensor) stretch.
Simple shoulder awareness exercises for landing lightly doing Ashtanga jump backs. Learn how to keep your shoulders ahead of your wrists when moving back into plank or chaturanga dandasana.
Having trouble getting your feet off of the floor in headstand. This is a short video (3 mins) which shows a simple method for learning to lift your feet.
Got tight calves? Here are a couple of suggestions for stretching them. One uses downward facing dog. The other the gym.
Yoga shoulder stretches include reverse prayer, eagle arms, dwikonasana (prasaritta padotanasana c), yoga cow face arm position and downward facing dog.
Learning to stabilize the elbow joint with triceps medial and lateral head, as well as anconeus. Learn how to control forearm rotation with supinators and pronator muscles. You just might affect your shoulders in yoga poses like down dog and handstand.
I like being flexible and it's taken me a long time to get flexible.
I'm still working on improving it.
From someone who's spent a lot of time stretching (and teaching others to stretch) here are some of the do's and don'ts I'd recommend.
Adductor stretches stretch the muscles of the inner thigh and include bound angle pose, hurdlers stretch or frog pose, wide leg seated forward bend, prone big toe pose, half side split pose, side to side splits or box splits.
Hip stretches for stretching the hip extensors as well as the glutes and piriformis.
Back Bending Anatomy