When working with beginners, I usually like to go through a progressively harder set of side plank preparation exercises. One reason for this is to train shoulder awareness so that they can effectively stabilize their scapula, another is so that they learn how to use their legs to lift their hips, first with knee bent, then with knee straight using the top leg (for the inner thighs) and then the bottom leg (for the outer thighs). In combination with this another aspect is learning to activate muscles at the front of the lifted leg (quadriceps and hip flexors) followed by the muscles at the back of the leg (hamstrings and possibly gluteus maximus.) One way to do this is to lift the knee or leg without holding on to it.
For each set, I like to repeat both sides before moving on to the next set.
Generally I like to start with bent elbows so that the focus is on the shoulders (as opposed to the wrist.) Focus on using the shoulder to push the ribcage up.
With shoulder lift the next step is to use the outer thigh muscles to lift the pelvis. Keep the shoulder engaged and from there reach the top arm up.
Next lift the top knee and point it upwards. Here you can practice engaging the quadriceps. If that's no problem try to straighten the knee without holding on to the foot.
For side plank with the elbow straight try pressing down with the tips of the fingers and the heel of the hand. You can also try pressing the hand outwards as well as downwards. Lift the hips and as before lift the top knee straight up. It'll be harder this time because of the higher angle of the body. Pause for a few breaths then if you like straighten the knee without holding on to the foot.
With hips lifted lift the top foot, straighten the knee and place the foot on the floor. Press the top foot into the floor so that the leg feels strong then lift the bottom shin. Keep the shoulder active.
From the previous position set the bottom foot on the floor either in front of or behind the top foot. Lift the top knee.
From the previous straighten the top knee. If you need to, bend the knee to grab the side of the foot or big toe. Then straighten the knee. Activate the back of the thigh as if trying to pull the foot away from the hand.
Make your yoga poses less wobbly with less effort. Grounding and centering are two techniques for creating stability in 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.
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.
Make balancing easier. Use pressure sensitivity to feel your center of gravity.
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.
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.
The transverse abdominis can have an affect on sacroiliac joint stability as well as stability of the lumbar spine and the T12/L1 junction.
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?
Why improve body awareness? So that you can use your body more effectively and fix problems yourself when they arise.
How is tensegrity maintained at the joints even as the body adopts non-tensegrity postures or movements?
Why being present is the oppositve of thinking and how to utilize both modes effecively.
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.
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?
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.
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.
An experienced yogi's yoga pose has a sense of bigness. How do you as a beginner add bigness to your yoga poses?
Basic yoga sequence for flexibility. Includes hip, hamstring, quad stretches and neck stretches and recovery exercises.
Back strengthening yoga poses can be used to strengthen the back of the body including hamstrings, glutes and both the lower and upper back.
A look at getting your feet off of the wall and balancing in handstand plus tips for greater arm stability.
Yoga pose sequences for flexibility and strength. These sequences can be used for improving hip and shoulder flexibility and strength.