Someone asked me about counterposes. I remember when I first started doing yoga (especially free flowing yoga seqeunces) this was one of my big concerns. What if I don't do the right counterposes (or "balancing" actions)…
First of all I'd suggest that these should be thought of as a way of returning the body to center, to making your body feel more comfortable.
So if I've been doing back bends with a focus on using my spinal erectors, it can feel good to bend the spine forwards.
This could be a relaxed "bent back hero", or an active pose like dead dog reach.
In either case the spine is bent forwards. In one the abs are relaxed in the other they are engaged.
As I focus on feeling my body I often choose balancing poses based on their effect with the desire, in general, to make my body feel good again.
As an example, I've recently been visiting marichyasana b and d, where one leg is in lotus. I'm still playing with the pose and I found that the outside of my lotus knee got a bit of a stretch. The balancing action I used was modified heron pose with a focus on straightening the knee (making it feel strong) and/or focusing on activating the side of the thigh to help alleviate the "stretched" feeling at the outside of the knee.
Sometimes if I do a lot of relaxed stretching, or a lot of forward bends, I need something to energize or wake me up. So in this case the counterpose might be bridge pose or even wheel pose. In either case the focus can be on using the legs.
Often I feel a lot more awake.
That being said, if I've done a lot of leg work or feel too excited then I need to cool down and/or calm down and so I use forward bends to cool down.
Sometimes I may be working on strengthening, say yoga push ups. The counterpose I may use is lapasana or bennitasana to stretch the muscles that were active.
If I've been doing squats of chair pose or wheel pose where the front of the thighs have been active then I might stretch them with a version of hero, or let them relax in a forward bend, or help them recover by lifting the legs in dead dog or shoulder stand or plough pose.
If I'm stretching the arms and use lapasana to stretch the front of the shoulders then I'll counterpose it by using dragonfly. One has the arms out to the sides. The other has the arm across the body.
If I do an arms over the head stretch then I'll counterpose with the arms down and back.
Some poses like side bends and twists are their own counterpose. You do one side and then the other and are balanced.
You can also counterpose for rotated leg or arm positions.
If you do lotus which is an external rotation with the knee bent, then you might also do hero which is an internal rotation. Also note that in lotus the shin folds to the inside of the thigh, in hero it folds to the outside.
If you stretch the inner thighs in splits or half split, then counterpose by stretching the outer thigh with pigeon or standing side bend (push the hips to the side.)
If you do a pose with the arms internally rotated like in some binding poses, then counterpose with an external rotation.
And if you do arm balances where the arms are in front of the body, you may find that a pose like table top, where the arms are behind the body helps.
If you rest for a moment or two after doing a yoga pose you can notice the way it makes you feel.
The more time you spend noticing how you feel the easier it will be to know what pose to do to counterpose the pose that you've just done.
Then instead of memorizing counterposes, you'll just know what to do by recognizing what your body is telling you.
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.