• T
  • H
  • M
  • Yoga Exercises to Improve Stability
    For the Shoulders, Waist, Hips and Legs

    One of the most basic ways to create stability is to use opposing muscles against each other to stiffen and stabilize a joint.

    The idea here is not to exert as much tension as possible but to use the amount of tension that is just right for the task at hand.

    Why? Because the more tension that we exert the more we impair sensitivity, awareness and adjustability. Plus it uses more effort than when just the right amount of tension is used.

    Plus the ability to vary the amount of tension, from too little, to too much, leads to better control of the body, the chance to make fine adjustments or the chance to control movement so that it is slow, smooth and gradual if that is desired.

    Stability from Muscle Working Against Gravity

    Another way that stability can be created is to use muscle power against the force of gravity. In this case, instead of muscles working against each other, a set of muscles works against the weight of the body part it is supporting.

    Those muscles are then working against gravity.

    Turning Yoga Poses into Stability Exercises

    A simple way to turn yoga poses into stability exercises is to shift foundations. That can mean lifting a hand that is resting against part of the body or the floor, or it can mean lifting a leg. It can also come by repeatedly adding weight to a yoga pose and then subtracting weight. This can be done by lifting limbs in such a way that the pose foundation has to work harder to support the extra weight.

    Standing Yoga Exercises to Improve Stability

    In yoga poses like triangle pose or side angle pose the arm rests on the floor, a yoga block or the lower leg. This arm supports the weight of the upper body. However, if that arm is lifted then the legs, pelvis and the abs on the uppermost side of the body then have to work against gravity to support the upper body.

    They get strengthened in the process.

    To gradually improve stability, reach the arms, then lower the arms to suppor the body. Do these actions repeatedly in time with the breath.

    exercises to improve stability: triangle pose with both hands lifted.Exercises to improve stability, side angle pose with both arms lifted

    Note that with the hands reaching past the head weight is added to the pose making the supporting/stabilizing muscles do more work.

    Yoga Poses like Triangle Forward Bend and Twisting Triangle can also both turned into stability exercises by repeatedly lifting and lowering the hands.

    In these case the stability work can be in stabilizing the feet, one or both legs and even the back of the spine.

    Lifting the both arms (or in the case of twisting triangle, the one arm) exercises the feet, leg and hips, particularly the buttocks, and also strengthens the spinal erectors, particularly if the spine is straightened or bent backwards. In this case these muscles work against the weight of the body and head.

    Extra weight can be added to the Forward Bending Triangle posture to by reaching the arms forwards.

    Stability In Balancing One One Leg Yoga Poses

    To work more on the back of the legs a pose like Bending Forwards with One Leg Lifted can be useful.

    Note that the lifted leg is forwards, beneath the hips, as opposed to reaching back. This shifts the bodies center of gravity forwards, meaning that with respect to the foundation the hips have to move back. And that means more work for the buttocks and hamstrings of the supporting leg as well as the deeper hip muscles like the obturator internus.

    An exercise like Standing Knee Lift while balancing on one foot can be used to educate the psoas and other hip flexors. In this case these muscles work against the weight of the leg.

    To increase the weight reduce the bend in the knee.

    Half Moon

    Another exercise to improve stability is based on half moon yoga pose.

    This pose can be challenging because the supporting foot is turned out relative to the pelvis. This puts the supporting leg hip near its bony limits. This can affect the ability to control the knee, ankle and foot.

    This is a pose where muscles can work against each other as well as against body weight to create stability.

    Note that the hip muscles of the lifted leg work against the weight of the leg to keep the leg lifted.

    For a greater test of stability try lifting the hand.

    Working on Shoulder Stability

    One of the ways to visit shoulder stability while standing is to shift weight forwards onto the hands while doing a standing forward bend.

    The more you shift forwards the more you have to use the hands to help support the weight of the body. In this case the muscles that move the scapulae relative to the ribcage can be resisting the movements of the ribcage towards the floor.

    The arm muscles can be working against each other to stabilize the arms. In general what you should feel as you rock forwards is some change in arm tension and arm effort. Your arms and shoulders will have to turn on in order to support your body.

    Supine Stability Exercises

    In a laying down posture like bridge pose where the legs are used to lift the hips, the leg muscles at the back of the legs, particularly the glute max, work against the weight of the pelvis, thighs and the lower part of the upper body to keep the pelvis lifted. The shoulders can also be used to press the ribcage upwards by pressing the shoulder blades down into the floor. The action actually used in this case is shoulder blade retraction.

    One way to increase the work load in this stability exericse is to lift one leg. The supporting leg then has to double the work. To work on both hip and waist stability focus on lifting the lifted side of the pelvis also.

    In a pose like table top you can use a similiar action, retraction of the shoulder blades, to lift the ribcage higher.

    In this pose you can try lifting one arm or one leg in order to practice stabilizing the supporting leg or shoulder. In the case of lifting one arm the challenge can be to keep the supporting side shoulder blade retracted.

    Downard Facing Dog

    In a semi inverted posture like downward facing dog stabilizing effort can again focus on the shoulder blades. In this case you can use the muscles that work between the shoulder blades and ribcage to push the ribcage away from the hands.

    The shoulders will move closer to the ears as a result. Or you could focus on widening the bottom tips of the shoulder blades while pulling the inner edges of the shoulder blades away from the head. This supraversion of the shoulder socket may also cause the ribcage to move away from the hands but will also result in the shoulders moving outwards.

    Prone and Belly Down Stability Exercises

    In a pose like dog pose you can use the leg muscles to lift the knees by pressing the fronts of the feet into the floor. This same action can be used to lift the knee in a high or low lunge.

    You can also use the scapular stabilizers to lift the ribcage relative to the shoulders and keep it lifted so that the serratus anterior muscles are working against the weight of the upper body (and gravity.)

    With knees lifted you can lift one hand or one knee to work on the stability of the supporting hand, leg and/or hip.

    In a beginners variation of chaturanga dandasana you can gradually increase the stabilizing ability of the arms with elbows bent by lifting only the ribcage (and not the pelvis), then lifting the pelvis and ribcage but not the knees, then by lifting ribcage, pelvis and knees.

    A variation of this is to keep the chest on the floor and press the knees down to lift the pelvis then press the feet down to lift the knees.

    For more exercises for improving midsection stability see the yoga poses for abs page.

    Return to Home Page from Exercises to Improve Stability

    Return to Yoga for Strength

    Improve Strength and Flexibility

    Yoga for Strength

    Basic Stability

    Arm Strength

    Back and Core Strength

    Leg Strengthening

    Yoga and Weights/Kettlebells

    What's New?

    Stability in Yoga Poses

    Make your yoga poses less wobbly with less effort. Grounding and centering are two techniques for creating stability in yoga poses.

    Continue reading "Stability in Yoga Poses"

    Arm Supported Yoga Poses

    Arm supported yoga poses can be used to strengthen the arms and shoulders. Includes plank, chaturanga dandasana, downward dog, dolphin pose, side plank, wheel, reverse plank, table top pose.

    Continue reading "Arm Supported Yoga Poses"

    Joint Pain Yoga

    Rather than fighting through joint pain here is an overview of the approach that I've used to help alleviate hip pain, knee pain or shoulder joint pain while doing yoga poses.

    Continue reading "Joint Pain Yoga"

    Feeling Your Center of Gravity

    Make balancing easier. Use pressure sensitivity to feel your center of gravity.

    Continue reading "Feeling Your Center of Gravity"

    How to do Squats

    A yoga approach to how to do squats including how to stay balanced, and avoiding knee or hip pain even while going all the way down.

    Continue reading "How to do Squats"

    Camel Yoga Pose

    Camel Yoga Pose or ustrasana is a kneeling pose that can be used to stretch the hip flexors. One key action that may help in getting your pelvis forwards more is pushing your hands forwards, either against your feet or against the floor.

    Continue reading "Camel Yoga Pose"

    Transverse Abdominis and Sacroiliac Joint Stability

    The transverse abdominis can have an affect on sacroiliac joint stability as well as stability of the lumbar spine and the T12/L1 junction.

    Continue reading "Transverse Abdominis and Sacroiliac Joint Stability"

    Fluid Tensegrity Joint Anatomy

    Fluid tensegrity joint anatomy looks at the tendency of the body to maintain space within the joints. The question is, how is this space maintained?

    Continue reading "Fluid Tensegrity Joint Anatomy"

    Why Improve Body Awareness

    Why improve body awareness? So that you can use your body more effectively and fix problems yourself when they arise.

    Continue reading "Why Improve Body Awareness"


    How is tensegrity maintained at the joints even as the body adopts non-tensegrity postures or movements?

    Continue reading "Tensegrity"

    Being Present

    Why being present is the oppositve of thinking and how to utilize both modes effecively.

    Continue reading "Being Present"

    Pigeon Yoga Pose

    Pigeon yoga pose variations include lifting the front hip and resting it on the floor. Learn how to activate the front hip in either variation for better hip control and more effective stretching.

    Continue reading "Pigeon Yoga Pose"

    Creating Tensegrity In Yoga Poses

    Creating tensegrity in yoga poses. What is tensegrity, why should we aim to achieve it when doing yoga or any other activity where mindfullness is required?

    Continue reading "Creating Tensegrity In Yoga Poses"

    Obturator Externus Anatomy for Yoga Teachers

    Obturator externus anatomy for yoga teachers. If you have hip pain in forward bends and your hip feels weak, obturator externus may be the culprit.

    Continue reading "Obturator Externus Anatomy for Yoga Teachers"

    Yoga Stretches for Tight Hamstrings

    Yoga stretches for tight hamstrings. Learn to feel when your legs are active and when they are relaxed so that you can gradually stretch tight hamstrings.

    Continue reading "Yoga Stretches for Tight Hamstrings"

    Adding Bigness to Your Yoga Poses

    An experienced yogi's yoga pose has a sense of bigness. How do you as a beginner add bigness to your yoga poses?

    Continue reading "Adding Bigness to Your Yoga Poses"

    Basic Yoga Sequence Part 1

    Basic yoga sequence for flexibility. Includes hip, hamstring, quad stretches and neck stretches and recovery exercises.

    Continue reading "Basic Yoga Sequence Part 1"

    Back Strengthening Yoga Poses

    Back strengthening yoga poses can be used to strengthen the back of the body including hamstrings, glutes and both the lower and upper back.

    Continue reading "Back Strengthening Yoga Poses"

    Handstand Intro 6

    A look at getting your feet off of the wall and balancing in handstand plus tips for greater arm stability.

    Continue reading "Handstand Intro 6"

    Yoga Pose Sequences for Flexibility and Strength

    Yoga pose sequences for flexibility and strength. These sequences can be used for improving hip and shoulder flexibility and strength.

    Continue reading "Yoga Pose Sequences for Flexibility and Strength"