After a class last week I received this in an email from a student and friend: “Arm balance!!!*” she wrote. “I have a friend from grad school that has been really into yoga for about a year now and she is always posting pictures of these crazy balancing things that she does. I have really admired her strength and never in a million years thought that I could do it! I felt so inspired after trying yesterday, I was really shocked by my own strength and balance.”
Thank you, Kathy! Yes!
Listen to me. Listen carefully. You are STRONG. You are POWERFUL. And you can balance on your arms.
Arm balances are any pose where your body weight is on your arms. In some classes I’ve heard plank referred to as an arm balancing pose, but when I use the term I’m generally referring to postures where your arms are holding your whole weight and your feet are off the ground. For many people, crow pose –bakasana – is their first introduction to an arm balance practice. It’s a pretty good starting point because it’s symmetrical (so it’s easier to balance) and, compared to other arm balances, requires less flexibility.
These postures, as a group, are great leg, back, and shoulder strengtheners. They tone your butt, arms, and abs, and stretch your wrists and chest. But forget all that. You can get those benefits from other postures. I’ve found in myself and others that arm balances can have intense emotional and energetic benefits (see: Kathy). Poses like bakasana improve both physical and emotional balance, build confidence and lightness of being, develop focus and concentration, and cultivate your ability to take a leap of faith.
Note: If you have a wrist or shoulder injury you should do arm balances cautiously. If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure or you’re through your 2nd trimester of pregnancy you may want to lay off completely. Self care is cool.
Here you go. This is your official step-by-step guide to arm balances, replete with . . . well, you’ll see.
Step 1: Pick an arm balance to try. If you don’t have a posture you’re working with you can find several arm balance postures here or try crow (pictured above).
Step 2: Get yourself PUMPED with these affirmations.
Step 3: Try it. You did it! Official motto for arm balances: “Trying it is doing it.” Lifting one foot is doing it. Tipping off to the side is doing it. Falling on your face is definitely doing it.
Step 4: Keep practicing. This kid knows what I’m talking about.
Step 5: Feel awesome. You rock. You. are. Buttermilk.
Step 6: Do not skip this. Stop. Take a break. Find a comfortable seat or come into child’s pose and notice how you feel. Observe what’s coming up for you, physically, emotionally, and energetically. Give yourself the time and space feel the affects of your arm balance practice.
Enjoy! Don’t blame me if you leap off to do something awesome after your practice.
*yes, she actually put three exclamation points.