My new thing is stretching and lengthening the arms from the spine all the way through the fingertips. Longer arms mean, you guessed it, a better chance of reaching ones feet in forward folding. The back and arms are lengthened by stretching and strengthening the mid-back between the shoulder blades (rhombus and trapezius), under the arms and side ribs (latissumus dorsi), rear shoulders (deltoid) and triceps.
Tadasana: Lats, triceps and forearms all relax and lengthen toward the ceiling as you press the feet flat into the floor. Pretend you’re trying to touch the ceiling.
Side Angle: Lift the top hip to tip the upper hand toward the front of the mat, relax the lats and triceps, as if trying to touch the wall in front of you.
Bow Pose: Rather than starting urdvha dhanurasna with bent arms and hunched shoulders (top), gently press the feet back, relax the front shoulders and wrists, thereby lengthening the arms (bottom).
Head to Knee Pose: Use janu sirsasana step by step to practice lengthening. Hold the strap and sit up tall (top). Then arch the back like cat pose and lean back, as if trying to press the back against the wall behind you, relaxing the lats, rhomboid and trapezeius, triceps and wrists (bottom).
Next, use the opening you just created to walk the hands up the strap an inch or so (top) and repeat by pressing the middle back toward the wall behind while relaxing and lengthening the arms (bottom).
Repeat a third time, walking hands as far up the strap as possible or up to the feet. Find yourself in janu (bottom) lenthening the spine forward.