In the practice of yoga, it seems no category of poses strikes students’ fancy-or frustration-more than arm balances. But like any other pose, arm balances (like crow or eight angle pose) can be broken down into five very doable component parts, which over time add up to getting off the ground.
Learning how to properly place the hands is key. In most arm balances, you want a similar hand position as you use in down dog: hands shoulder width apart or slightly wider; wrist creases straight across or hands slightly turned out. Avoid placing the hands narrower than shoulder-width, or turning them in-this can be hard on the collarbone and shoulders. The appropriate width and the degree of turn-out can vary based on your skeletal structure, so it’s a good idea to ask your yoga teacher to check things out with you!
2. Hip flexibility
Since most arm balances require placing the legs high up on the arms in some manner, you need good range of motion in the hips to enable you to, say, put your knees near your armpits (as in crow pose.) Squats, quad stretches, pigeon pose and happy baby are excellent preparation for this.
3. Leg strength
One of the major actions required to keep your legs from falling off your arms is adduction-squeezing the leg bones in toward the midline. You can practice this action in many standing poses, by squeezing the legs toward one another and feeling the inner thigh muscles fire.
4.Upper spine and shoulder mobility
For many students, the fear of falling on one’s face presents a big obstacle in the pursuit of arm balances! If the upper spine is “asleep” in these poses, the weight of the head will tend to go zooming toward the floor. Learning to press the shoulders back, and reach the chest forward (as though you are trying to stretch your sternum across the floor in front of you) can stabilize you in a powerful way.
5. Core Support
Finally, arm balances require a good deal of-yep, you guessed it-core strength. Get creative: beyond the typical crunches, find ways to engage the core in various planes and shapes. Navasana (boat pose) and plank are good options; here at Grassroots we’ve got all kinds of crazy poses (“bicycles in space,” or “pez dispenser abs,” anyone?) designed to wake up the core!
For many students, a combination of committed practice and guidance from a qualified teacher are all it takes to get off the ground. Our private yoga instruction sessions are a perfect way to get the personalized tools you need-and members get an initial private session for just $35!
Schedule one today by contacting Jackie Evans at .