Arm balances are everywhere these days. They pop up on Instagram and yoga studio posters as the epitome of yoga accomplishment. Yet, they’re often among the most frightening poses for students to try. The concept of flying fearlessly into wild, inverted poses plagues many yogis.
I’m here to tell you: this collection of poses is not reserved for advanced yoga practitioners. With a few tips and tricks (plus practice, practice, practice), you’ll find yourself in Crow, Hurdler, and Headstand in no time!
Benefits of Arm Balances
First off, why bother practicing arm balances in the first place? Balancing poses help us connect with the present moment. And when you add in the challenge of balancing on your arms, the amount of mental focus required increases. You’re never going to get up into a headstand if you’re thinking about the day’s to-do list. Practice arm balances if you’re in need of a strengthened mental focus.
Additionally, arm balances increase flexibility, core and shoulder strength, as well as feelings of self-confidence and courage. Plus, they offer a playful and curious way to approach our bodies!
What’s not to love? If you’re eager to give these a try, but maybe a bit scared about how to begin, read on for four tips to help you build your arm balance practice.
4 Key Steps to Building an Arm Balance Practice
Confidence- Honestly, guys building confidence is key to arm balancing. We are all a bit nervous about face planting. It happens every now and then. So what?! It’s totally okay to fall out of the pose and laugh your ass off. We all do it. The more we practice balancing on our hands, the more confidence and strength we will gain. It just takes time, practice and patience.
Strategic Weight Placement– How many times have you heard your instructor remind you not to put your weight into the heel of your hand? This is because when your weight is in the palm of your hands, there’s nothing to stop you from falling backward. Instead, strategically place your body weight between your thumb and pointer finger – pushing more into your knuckles than the heel of your hand. By moving the balance point forward like this, you instantly gain more control.
Shoulder Strength – Your shoulder blades are a critical, and often neglected, body part when moving into arm balances. You need them to support your arms, especially when you’re in a straight-arm balance. We often help students increase scapular strength by holding an engaged Plank pose, asking them to puff up between the shoulder blades – almost like a Cat Pose.
Core strength- All balance poses rely heavily on a strong core, and arm balances are no exception. To build an arm balance practice, you must learn to lock off one part of your body (example: core) so you can use that stability to launch into more complicated poses. We often encourage students to focus on their core by asking them to flex their belly during every single yoga pose of the class. Eventually, engaging the core will become second nature.