Hi yogis, today I’d like to share with you 5 tips to bring your arm balances to the next level. Whether you are working on crow pose (Bakasana), side crow (Parsva Bakasana), eight angle pose (Astavakrasana) or else, these tips will help you cultivate a healthy and strong practice.
Tip #1: Warm up your wrists
Hands and wrists are not biologically meant to bear weight. If you want to spend time upside down and master arm balances, you need to warm up your wrists first. Most of us wish we could skip the warm-up phase and jump straight into the fun part but the truth is you should not. At least not if you want to practice without feeling pain or damaging your wrist joint.
Check out my video for a 5-minute wrist warm-up.
Tip #2: Position your hands properly
Before attempting an arm balance, take the time to position your hands and fingers properly on your mat. Place your wrists under your shoulders and spread all ten fingers on the mat. The index finger should be pointing forward to create some external rotation in the shoulders. As you start to put weight onto your hands, press firmly through your index and thumb fingers – this will allow for a better weight distribution in your forearms.
Tip #3: It’s all about your core
Although your anchor point is your hands and fingers, your balance mainly depends on your core strength. Before going into an arm balance, suck your belly button in and up to engage your abs. This strong foundation will help you find balance and stay in the posture for longer. It will support your entire body in the shape.
You should also engage your bandha. My what, I can hear you say??? In yoga, a bandha is an “energy lock” performed by contracting specific muscles as a way to regulate and direct the flow of prana (life force energy). While doing arm balances, engaging your mula bandha, your “root lock”, will greatly help you stabilize in the posture. To engage your mula bandha, contract your perineum and anal region and try to pull it in and up. It’s a bit like you are trying to resist a wee. It’s a subtle movement which might be difficult at first but give it a go. The idea is to energetically lift your pelvis floor in and up.
Tip #4 : Push the floor away with your hands
When putting weight on your upper body, remember to push the floor away. Do not let your shoulders sink down. Instead, “protract” them and feel your arm pits lifting up; your upper back will dome slightly. Practice protracting your shoulders in arm balances but also in plank pose.
Check out my video for protracting exercises.
Tip #5 : Practice makes perfect
Let’s be honest, you will probably not succeed in your arm balances at your first attempt. And that’s ok. Arm balances are fun and the interesting part is the journey to master these challenging poses.
We are all different so you might need to build a little strength in your upper body and abs before succeeding or you might be strong enough but need to get used to the sensations of balancing on your arms. Either way, the key is to practice, practice and practice again (mindfully of course!). Take 10 minutes each day to practice a few poses and, with time and patience, you will get there.
I hope you find these tips helpful. For any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.