Can you slowly exhale and let yourself extend into finding connection as you do so?
A bit; but it is very weak and I need a compliant uke to do anything. But thanks for reminding me about tai no henko; I can definitely see how that would help.
I guess I should also give an example: last week, an instructor had us practicing nikkyo from a cross-hand grab, where uke was actively pushing into you. I was able to pull off the nikkyo with some success by letting my hand come toward my belt, and just as my hand about about to touch my gi, I would be able to move around uke's energy (god I hate that phrase, but i can't think of a better one). My instructor came over and told me to try and do the nikkyo while my arm was still extended, maintaining my maai. Try as I did, this was very difficult for me do without uke being very, very accomodating.