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Why Arm Balancing is Awesome

Why Arm Balancing is Awesome

Assuming you are physically healthy and not nursing injuries to your arms, shoulders, or spine, arm balances are accessible. We’re not suggesting you need to become a cirque du soleil acrobat. But, how about stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new if you currently avoid going upside down? With the proper preparation, technique, and intention, you can add these playful poses to your repertoire. If you are already love arm balances, how can you refine your practice?

Here are three worthy benefits to show how arm balancing can be an excellent addition to your yoga practice:

1. Perspective Shift: Arm balances cultivate a shift in perspective. How we view the world is determined by the lens through which we see it. Clear or cloudy. Positive or negative. Think about when you go on vacation somewhere new and completely distinct from where you live. Suddenly, life seems fresh because you see it differently. Going upside down on your yoga mat can shake up your energy—no plane ticket required.

2.  Sthira and Sukham: Balancing on your hands requires you to tap into Sthira and Sukham, or effort and ease. Strength and power alone won’t support you in a handstand. There is an inherent grace, finesse, and mental connection involved in a beautiful, balanced posture. Temper your efforts with softness and focused energy, just like all the other asanas.

3. Freeing your Inner Child: Arm balances free you to tap into your inner child and release fear. Remember when you were five years old? You’d hang from the monkey bars or try a back handspring without a second thought. As we become adults, we tend to become more fearful of falling. Go upside down and balance in Astavakrasana for instance and you aren’t held back by fear; you’re playing like a child again. Fun!

Here are a three tips to safely build your arm balancing practice if you’re starting out.

1. Build Strength: First, build strength in your upper body and core. If you’re strong enough to practice chatarangua, you can balance on your arms. Start with Downward Dog and Plank Pose. Planks and Navasana/Boat pose will cultivate the power in your center needed to balance upside down.

2. Foster Flexibility: Spinal and Hip flexibility are also required so, work on keeping your hips open and your spine supple. Malasana or frog pose is great before Bakasana or crow pose to release your spine and hips. Add some spinal twists for mobility in your center.

3. Props: Practice handstands and forearm stands against a wall. Use a strap around your upper arms to encourage proper alignment in your joints before going upside down. Blocks are helpful to engage necessary muscles and encourage correct alignment for your body. Start slowly and build up over time. Remember to listen to your body. Use a spotter—the ultimate prop—to aid you as you progress. Cultivate strength, flexibility, and mental focus to find your happy place upside down.

Check out four different takes on arm balances with these four new offerings. Enjoy your flight!

1. Guidelines for a Balanced Life: Arm Balancing and Aparigraha - Les Leventhal
2. You've Got This: Crow to Chaturanga - Kylie Larson
3. Untie the Knot! - Shannon Paige
4. Therapeutic Alignment: Crow Pose - Shy Sayar

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