Written by Cindy Godell, Teacher at One Down Dog
August 17, 2021
I remember the first time I experienced an arm balance that wasn’t crow – it was eka pada koundinyasa II. (pictured below 😛) We were about 45 minutes into a class led by the teacher with whom I did my teacher training, and I was confidently practicing in the front row. Each time a teacher had taught this split-like arm balance before, I’d half-heartedly throw my arm under my front leg and give it a go with an inner voice saying, “Eh, it’s probably not gonna happen today.”
But this time, my arm went under my leg, I moved my leg off to the side, I shifted my upper body into chaturanga, and magically – my back foot lifted of the floor. I was flying! I did it! And it wasn’t as hard as I thought!
I landed on the floor and shouted in a class of forty people, “Yes!” It was a feeling of accomplishment that caught me by surprise. Ever since then, I can’t get enough of balancing on my hands and empowering other people to just keep trying because it’s truly not as hard as you think!
Here are my top 5 tips for arm balancing:
1. Warm up for the arm balance(s) you want to practice, and keep in mind that some will feel more accessible than others.
Not all arm balances are created equally; some of them require twisting, some require stretching through the hamstrings, some require deep hip flexion, etc. There are many shapes to play with, so find arm balances that make sense for you and make sure to warm up the different parts of the shape so that when it’s time to fly on your hands, the balance feels both strong and light.
2. Use a crash pad.
New to arm balancing? Place a pillow, blanket, or bolster in front of your face so you have something to cushion your fall. To get some air time on your hands, you must lean toward the fingertips enough to lift the back of the shape. It can be helpful to know you’ve got something there to catch you should you lean a little too far forward, though you will likely not even need it!
3. Start with the feet on a yoga block.
Speaking of leaning forward, you can give yourself a head start by getting your feet off of the floor and onto a block. This will help with some of the work in lifting the back of the shape.
4. Lift up.
Once you’ve leaned forward enough to start to find your balance, look for a lift in your pose. Resist the gravitational force that is pulling you down by pressing into your hands, engaging the middle of your body, and keeping the chest lifted.
5. Be patient.
A big piece of holding an arm balance or inversion is building awareness around how your body moves in and out of the pose and feeling comfortable and confident in those transitions. This proprioception is built over time and with lots of practice.
Bonus tip: Have fun in your exploration, and remember there’s always tomorrow!
Join my Arm Balance Workshop online or in person at One Down Dog!
Date: Friday, Aug 20th 2021
Time: 5:00-6:30pm (Pacific)
Location: In Person at our Silverlake Studio or Online via Zoom
Join us as we play with the arm balances you love and the arm balances that challenge you! Arm balances are a great way to help you explore patience, balance, strength, will, and so much more. We’ll start with an asana + meditation practice to warm up and then break down four to five different arm balances, plus their progressions and modifications. This workshop is open to all levels!
$30 to participate in person
$20 to participate online
15% off for unlimited members