Yoga is great for a lot of things, but strengthening the pulling muscles in your upper-back is not one of them. Unfortunately, this is bad news for your shoulders, too much pushing and not enough pulling can create a serious imbalance that leads to pain, injury, and you not being able to do yoga.
There is one posture that is very good for this, and it happens to be the side plank. This is one of the few exercises you find in a yoga class that uses bodyweight resistance to help strengthen the muscles in your upper-back. You can do it from your elbow (as shown here) OR from your hand with a straight arm.
Side planks also help to:
⁃strengthen your outer hips for more stability in balancing
⁃increase oblique strength to help tone your mid-section
⁃improve proprioception to improve your overall sense of balance
Hold it for at least 30 seconds, and build your way up to 2 minutes or more.
How long can you hold a side plank for?
Ways you can use side plank:
⁃Part of your warm-up
⁃During your workout on core, lower-body, or even upper-body day
To my yoga masters - Yes, doing a cobra or similar exercise does exercise the pulling muscles in your back, but it does not do so against any resistance, making it useful for developing muscle awareness (aka mind body awareness) but not very developing overall strength.
Mat - lines on this are from my initial designing of the new Man Flow Yoga mat. Coming this winter!!
Follow us: @center_for_y0ga
Thank you so much !