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6 Poses to Prep for Arm Balances

Practice these yoga moves to build up to Crane pose.

If you’re looking for a great way to build strength and add dimension to your yoga practice, you should definitely give arm balances a try! Arm balances require strength and balance throughout the arms and core, so keep in mind that mastering these moves will take time, patience and lots of practice. It’s important to start simple and work your way up. Crane pose is a beginner arm balance that, while challenging, also allows you to safely explore the key requirements of arm balances: core activation, muscle control, and letting go of fear.

Below are six yoga poses that you can start practicing today to work your way up to Crane pose. Remember that mastering any arm balance takes time and it won’t happen overnight, so just be patient and have fun!

By Jessie Wren


Chair Pose


This posture starts to warm up the core, while still allowing you to feel grounded. Start in this posture by feeling the abdominal engagement when you lengthen the tailbone down. As you tuck the tailbone, feel your abdomen start to fire up – this is the feeling you want when you begin to lift into Bakasana.


Boat Pose

boat pose

Navasana is another great posture to strengthen the abs and help you find your balance. Start with your seat on the floor and start by lifting your legs in the air. The next step is to lift your arms up by your side and straightening through your spine. Hold this posture for thirty seconds and feel your lower abdominals ignite. If you can hold this posture for at least 30 seconds, you are ready to move on to the next pose.


Reclined Crane Pose


This is a great posture to feel the exact core engagement you need once you are in the arm balance. Start by lying on your back and squeeze your knees as high up your arms toward your armpits as you can. Flex your toes and push your arms up toward the ceiling. This posture is one of my favorites for students who still have fear of getting up in the arm balance.

The ground is a great way to physically feel the muscles you need to use while you’re in the arm balance. You can safely feel the muscle engagement and gain an understanding of what the posture is going to be like once you are ready to try it.


Crane Pose Kickstand


Once you start feeling more comfortable with attempting the arm balance, start on your tiptoes. Bring your knees toward your armpits and start shifting your weight forward. Keep looking as far forward as you can and try to feel the same abdominal engagement you felt in the previous postures. Once you feel your body weight tipping forward, try lifting your right foot off the floor and see how that feels. Then switch feet and maintain awareness of your lower abdominal muscles. Having this kickstand is helpful for students who are scared of shifting too far forward.


Supported Crane Pose


Once you are ready to start flying both your feet off the ground, use a block as a marker of how far forward you need to shift. Blocks are wonderful props to get in the habit of using with many arm balances because most students aren’t aware of just how far forward you need to go to find the balance. A good measurement for the block is a foot in front of your hands. Try to avoid bringing all your weight to your forehead in this posture – instead, try to find an equilibrium in your core.


Crane Pose


Once you have conquered the previous steps, you are now ready for Bakasana – congratulations! This is a challenging and sometimes “scary” posture because you have to focus your body weight more forward than we are typically used to. If you do fall in this posture, keep in mind that you are only a foot off the ground.


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