One of the problems I often see with new students in my yoga classes is an inability to stabilize the legs. If their hands are on the floor for balance and they try lifting their hands they loose their balance or simply haven’t got the leg strength to keep their hands lifted.
A simple technique that creates stability and leg strength is to use friction. I teach them to push one leg forwards and the other back so that they activate their leg muscles and create stability. This same technique can be used in a variety of ways to strengthen both the legs and the arms, and even the mid-section when using an arm against a leg.
With awareness directed in the right place it's also a great way to help learn to feel your body. For example, pressing the feet outwards against the floor while standing is a great way to learn to feel the adductors (the muscles along outside of the hips) activate.
The only trouble with this technique is that it doesn’t work if you only have one point of contact with the floor, say while standing and balancing on one leg.
For this reason, I also use pressure as a way of creating stability. This is an excellent technique for learning to feel, say, the knees and hips, and for making them stable.
Conscious Muscle Control Pressure and Friction is a set of videos that takes you through a sequence of yoga poses. In each pose, you’ll use either friction or pressure to activate muscles and/or joints. You’ll learn to feel muscles and joints activating, create stability, and strengthen your legs, arms and, where the arms and legs are used against each other, your midsection.
The first video includes some seated poses with exercises that warm up your shoulders and arms. You can view a partial preview (which is useful even by itself as a warm up) below.
The second video focuses on a sequence of standing poses that uses the legs against each other and also against the arms. You’ll also use the arms against each other and against the legs in some forward bends.
Video Option 1: The next video focuses on push up (chaturanga) and using friction, and then pressure, as a means of making it easier to learn to lift your body off of the floor. This video is optional. If you have weak arms and would like some simple progressions, or even options for working towards chaturanga, this video may help.
Video Option 2:An alternative is the splits video which takes side split and front split preparations using friction and pressure for side splits and pressure for front splits.
You have the option of purchasing one or the other of these two final videos or both.
The basic option includes chaturanga and progressive exercises for working towards chaturanga while at the same time improving awareness and control of your shoulders and arms. $24.
The splits option includes progressive exercises for working towards both side splits and front splits. $24.
The third option includes both chaturanga and splits. $32.
One important idea you can learn from this set of videos is how the same techniques can be used in different poses.
You’ll also learn how to feel the changes that go on inside your body when you make changes in how you interact with the earth.
The Warmup video is approximately 15 minutes long.
The Main video is about 50 minutes long.
The Chaturanga/Push Up video is 49 minutes long.
The splits video is 32 minutes.
Videos are 1280x720 MP4 format and can be streamed or downloaded.
For all of the poses, I do the postures (and exercises) as I talk you through them.
You can order the video package here.
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.