Leonardo da Vinci is famously attributed for the words, “once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
Arm balances have a funny way of seeming impossible until one day they are not. One day, the impossible is finally attained and flight ensues. That taste of flight captures the soul and has yogis around the world wanting to taking off and soar again. Luckily, arm balances are not only addictive, they also have amazing benefits for overall health and wellness. Here are five indisputable benefits of arm balances:
1. Tone & Lift the Whole Body
While it may seem like the arms are doing all the work, every part of the body needs to lift itself for flight. In any arm balance, a strong and engaged core, back and legs lifts and protects the arms and wrists from strain and injury. Additionally, lifting and toning internally through engagement of the bandhas takes arm balances to a new level. When the whole body works as a unit, flight becomes more easily attainable, sustainable and fun!
2. Strengthen the Body to Protect the Shoulder Joints
With the increase in desk jobs, the upper body is rarely challenged throughout the day. Therefore, arm balances are a great way to counter a more sedentary lifestyle. Humans walk around on their legs because the connecting hip joints are made to bear weight. The femur (the large thigh bone) is rooted in the hip socket, which (at the cost of mobility) increases stability. The arms and connecting shoulder joints are a completely different story. The shoulder joints are some of the most mobile joints in the body and, subsequently, less stable. Because of the decrease in stability and the extreme range of motion available, shoulder joints can be prone to pain and injury, especially when arm balances collapse weight into the arms without consideration for lifting. When the other parts of the body lift themselves, the arms can focus on the task at hand and the entire upper body is strengthened. Strong and stable upper bodies protect the vulnerable shoulder joints.
3. Balance the Body, Mind and Soul
With balance in their name, it comes as no great surprise that arm balances challenge and encourage the body to balance. The balance of the body is attained through body awareness, focused attention and willingness to try. The focused attention to keep the body lifted channels the mind to focus on the moment. Focusing on the moment invites intention and allows the soul to be light enough to fly. As Antoine de Saint- Exupéry said, “I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.”
4. Boost Prana Flow
Prana is the life force and vital cosmic energy that permeates the universe. Prana connects the mind and body and enters through the breath. Ayama stands for extension and, as such, pranayama is the work of lengthening the breath, the life force and life itself. Arm balances require a great deal of energy and when paired with breathwork, arm balances boost the prana flow in the mind and body. The pairing increases blood flow to the brain and pituitary gland, revitalizes the body and slows the aging process all through boosting prana flow.
5. Encourage Positive Self-Esteem, Self-Worth and Self-Confidence
Arm balances are often linked to the third chakra, or manipura, because they require immense amounts of power and will. The third chakra is associated with fire and the ability to act and honor the power within burns through all blocks and fears. In affirming the will to accomplish an arm balance, the risk of flying becomes less scary and flight becomes more attainable. Believing in the self to do an arm balance, promotes the concept of self-esteem as a reward rather than an entitlement. As such, self-esteem is earned and backed with evidence which, in turn, promotes self-worth and self-confidence.
Arm balances have many other fantastic benefits, feel free to share them below. Happy flying y’all!
Image Credit Andrea Taylor