When trying to deal with low back pain a lot of people recommend working on the abs. My own feeling is that since I experience low back pain mostly while standing, a better solution is to work on improving hip muscle control and stability.
The better I can control my hip muscles the better I can use them to stabilize my pelvis relative to my thigh bones and then my abs have a stable foundation from which to work on stabilizing and controlling the spine and ribcage.
And rather than doing these exercises while laying down, I like to do hip stability exercises while standing.
To make it easier to do hip stability exercises one of the first things that I do with my students is an exercise to enable them to better feel and control their pelvis while standing. And so I have them practice turning their pelvis to one side while standing with weight even on both feet with knees slightly bent.
Rather than just turning the pelvis to the right and left the exercise is to slowly turn the pelvis to the right while focusing on feeling the mass of the pelvis. Then I have them turn it back to the front. The next exercise is to then repeat these actions while standing on one foot.
Once they are used to feeling and controlling the pelvis with this simple exercise, the next exercise is to practice turning the ribcage relative to the pelvis while standing on both legs. Here the goal is to use the hip muscles to keep the pelvis stable while using the abs and intercostals to twist and turn the ribcage relative to the pelvis.
To increase the work in this hip stability exercise I then have my students doing it while standing on one leg.
A yoga pose where both actions can be practiced is Revolving Triangle. While bent forwards and twisting to the side the idea is to stabilize the hips (using the experience from the standing hip turn and the standing ribcage twist) while using the abs to turn the ribcage relative to the pelvis.
Going back to the standing hip turn, the idea of this exercise is to feel the action of the hip muscles while turning the pelvis. Then instead of using the hip muscles to turn the pelvis, in revolving triangle use the actions of internal rotation and external rotation of the hip against each other to keep the hip stable.
Another favorite hip stability exercise is the standing side bend. This isn't so much a hip stabilizing action as it is an action for learning to feel the muscles that work on the hips and legs. For this exercise the idea is to engage the muscles on the short side of the body while opening or stretching the long side of the body. The action that is most applicable to hip stability is squeezing the side of the thigh and buttock.
This action can then be used in a pose like triangle pose. In one of the variations that I teach I like to have my students engage the outer thigh of the "back leg" (the front leg is the leg that you are leaning towards) prior to lifting the hand and reaching both hands past the ears.
I've recently been dealing with both old and new knee problems and one of the things that I'm rediscovering is that the knee affects the hip and vice versa. To that end hip stability exercises should also include so knee awareness and knee control exercises.
To that end I like to do side angle pose. One way to practice knee awareness is with the knees straight engage the outer thigh of the back leg. Then slowly bend the front knee. By slowly I mean take at least 5 seconds to bend it completely (so that thigh is horizontal or nearly so) and another 5 or more to straighten the knee again.
I like to slowly straighten and bend the knee while keeping the pelvis and ribcage tilted towards the front leg. After a few repetitions then I add the arms in, reaching one arm or both arms to the side while bending the knee and then relaxing them when straightening the knee.
Another bent knee hip stability exercise is Warrior 1.
For this exercise make the back knee feel "strong". Squeeze the front, sides and back of the back knee. Then slowly bend the front knee while bending the thoracic spine backwards and lifting and expanding the ribcage. Then slowly straighten the knee and allow the thoracic spine to bend forwards.
After a few repetitions I'll add an arm lift, reaching the arms to the side and up as the knee bends and the chest opens, lowering the arms as the knee returns to being straight.
One of my favorite hip stability exercises is to bend forwards and then shift weight to one foot. Both hands can be on the floor initially. After shifting weight to one foot, lift the other foot. Then shift back far enough that the arms relax. Press the toes down and stabilize the feet and ankles (and stabilize the hip joint) and then lift both hands.
Keep the lifted leg parallel with the standing leg. Don't reach it back. Instead work at pulling it forwards.
One Supine Pose yoga pose you can use for hip stability is bridge yoga pose. Focus on squeezing the buttocks to press the hips up to the ceiling. You can also focus on pressing the feet down.
Afterwards reach the arms and legs up while laying on your back.
The Active Stretching ebook includes a whole routine of exercises that can help improve hip stability.
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.