Tips to Master Arm Balances
You know when you chat with people who have never done yoga before and they describe it as stretching? Or maybe they dismiss yoga as an easy exercise to do when they’re tired from other activities? Well, chances are these folks haven’t tried too many arm balances or inversions. These postures, as you know if you’ve taken a few yoga classes or have been unrolling your mat for years, are extremely challenging.
Arm balances, as the name suggests, are poses where you rely on arm strength to balance. Usually, the fullest expression of an arm balance involves lifting your legs and placing them on your arms, shoulders, or triceps. They require balance, strength, mental focus, and perseverance.
Arm Balance Tips from our Yoga Studio
Yoga Pod West Houston wanted to offer a few tips that can help you develop your arm balance practice. In addition to building strength, arm balances promote circulation and intentional concentration (often referred to as “drishti” or gaze). These benefits explain why most vinyasa-style yoga classes, such as our podFLOW class type, include arm balances of some variety.
The next time you unroll your mat, whether at home or a yoga studio, keep these tips in mind:
1. Use chaturanga as a strength-builder
Chaturanga is a foundational posture in yoga classes for a reason: it builds tremendous forearm strength. As such, practicing proper form and taking modifications in chaturanga are some of the best ways to develop a strong arm balance practice. The next time you take these forearm push-ups, keep in mind that:
It can be better to take a modification (like taking the push-up from your knees) than to skip it altogether or do a push-up in bad form. You’re still building strength everytime you go through the motion correctly.
The key to chaturanga involves keeping your elbows squeezed toward your ribs. Not only does this form protect your shoulders, but it also encourages your triceps to activate and strengthen.
2. Focus on your hands
We often take our hand placement for granted during a yoga class, but strong hands are the foundation for a strong practice. Every time you set your hands on the mat, spread your fingers wide into the shape of a starfish. Then, be sure to put weight evenly into your fingertips instead of the palm of your hand. If it helps you to visualize proper hand activation, imagine that you have a tiny ladybug under your hand that you don’t want to squish.
3. Look up and forward
Our tendency during arm balances is to look down to prevent ourselves from falling. It might seem counterintuitive, but the trick is actually to gaze up and forward. You want to send your gaze (and energy) in the direction you’re trying to go which, for arm balances, means upward.
4. Use your core
Arm balances very well could be called “core strengtheners,” as they rely as much on core strength as they do arm muscles. Engage your core by pressing your belly button toward your spine (to activate your uddiyana bandha). To see the true value of core activation, try an arm balance with a floppy core versus an engaged one.
Practice at Yoga Pod West Houston
Yoga Pod West Houston prides itself on creating a supportive and welcoming atmosphere in our yoga studio. No matter what you’re working on in your practice or if you are just getting into yoga, we want to encourage you on your journey. Check out our yoga class schedule!
Visit our studio in West Houston today to sign up for $30 For 30 Days and take your practice to a whole new level.