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.)
Here's a quick look at why scapular stability and thoracic stability are important. They allow you to do certain types of yoga poses with greater ease.
Here's my latest video on scapular stability.
What can you do while kneeling? How many kneeling yoga posture variations are there?
Some ankle stretches to make it easier to kneel and also to stretch the backs of the ankles. Learn actions you can do to make these poses more comfortable and more effective.
I can't say that I was happy to have injured my knee recently. After all, I'm a yoga teacher and it's part of my job to be able to show my students what I'm trying to get them to do. And that's when I discovered that perhaps it wasn't such a bad thing after all.
My latest ebook is designed especially for motorcyclists. The exercises in this book are designed to improve body awareness so that you can control your bike with greater confidence, particularly in the corners.
Here's my latest video on plank pose (with elbows straight) with a focus on feeling the mid section (to remove excess lumbar lordosis) and on feeling and controlling the shoulder blades (for scapular stability.)
Some basic exercises for feeling the ribcage and controlling it and then adjusting it for a balance between openness and relaxation.
Has anyone ever told you that you can use your spinal erectors to help you breath?
This set of exercises initially developed because I had collapsed arches. But even if you don't have collapsed arches they can be helpful for improving foot awareness.
I was asked, recently, if it was safe to squat if you have flat feet. Here's my answer. (this is also included in the tail end of the "heel stacking" video.)
In this next set of exercises for flat feet the focus is on the heel bones and how to stack them.
Exercises for collapsed arches. I actually have collapsed arches and I learned how to hide them so that I could join the army. I often use these foot exercises as a prelude to balancing on the fronts of the feet or balancing on one foot.
This book bundle includes my 5 yoga basics ebooks for $52.00. (After clicking the "Buy the Bundle Now" button you can use the sliders to reduce the price to $52.00.)
Centration can simply taken to mean centered. And rather than looking for maximal surface contact, a more sensible definition is balanced tension.
Stay balanced in yoga balance poses, keep your center of gravity over your foundation. Learn how your center shifts relative to your body.
The single joint muscles at the back of the knee joint are relatively small compared to those at the front of the knee. For knee joint stability, activate the hamstrings as well as the three vastus muscles.
The following sacroiliac joint stability exercises can be used to shape the pelvis. They may also be helpful in forward bending and backbending at the hip.
Key to improving balance and proprioception is the conscious control of tension. Tension can be used for both feedback and stability making it easier to stay balanced.
These yoga pose upper back exercises make it easier to feel the upper back (and lower back) so that it is easier to control them both.
Back Bending Anatomy