One of the most difficult poses for beginners in yoga are those that involve balancing the weight of your body on your arms and holding it for a specified amount of time. These poses can give us the feeling of flying above the clouds and gently landing back to the ground. The good news is that poses like crow pose, handstand, and grasshopper pose can be performed by even the novice of yogis. The key to successful arm balance is incorporating the proper movements and patterns that the above poses involve.
The following tips will get you on the fast track to mastering arm balance postures. Once you learn these tips, you will be floating off the ground in no time!
See the tips below and be sure to share them with your friends who want to take flight with their training!
1. Spread the fingertips wide & root down through the hands.
Whenever we are trying to balance, the more surface we can connect to the ground the sturdier and steadier we will be. This is the same principle in yoga. The greater the connection between our hands and the earth, the easier it is to root down and rise up.
When teaching yoga classes, I often see students with fingertips barely spread. This is a major NO – NO! Spread those babies out! Feel each fingertip connecting with the Earth, ground down through the heel of hand, and then lengthen up towards the sky. This can apply to every posture in yoga, not just arm balances.
Start to notice where the fingertips are in each posture and what the hand is doing. Are you rolling to the outer edge of the hand? Are you only pressing down through the pointer finger and thumb? Begin to take a mental note of this and then slowly work towards expanding and extending the fingertips and hands. Eventually, this will become a habit that doesn’t require any thought process.
2. Gaze forward and then gaze forward MORE!
For some reason, we love looking straight down. Think about when we walk, run, or step up onto something. The tendency is to gaze directly down at the feet. We need to break that habit stat!
In order to fly and stay soaring above, it’s absolutely necessary to gaze forward. Now, let me clarify the word “forward.” I don’t mean crank the neck so hard that a muscle spasm occurs or causes any type of discomfort. What I do mean is a soft gaze out in front of the fingertips, usually about 6 inches. Nothing crazy!
Start to practice this step wholeheartedly. Not just here and there, but every time you come to the mat.
Arm balances will soon become a bright light of possibility when the gaze is forward. We want the eyes to direct the body, to be the guide, to be the captain sailing the ship.
3. Suck the Belly UP and IN.
This is a literal statement. Literally suck the belly up towards the ribs, and in towards the spine. If what I’m saying is not clicking, try this:
Lie down on your back and breathe normally, inhaling and exhaling out of the nose.
On the next exhale, send the bellybutton up towards the heart and back towards the spine.
Do you feel that? “That” being the activation of your entire core, the power center, the space from where we should always move from. This, my friends, is how it should always feel, in almost every yoga posture, unless it’s a restorative yoga pose or class.
Just like the fingertips, hands, and gaze – start to tap into the core of your body. Begin to really use its power on each exhale and refocus on each inhale. When the core is engaged and aware, the body is able to balance and relax. This allows us to fly while remaining calm and balanced.