American-Australian yoga teacher, writer, mama, traveler. Part of the DoYou Editorial Team. View more
Arm balances are super challenging. We’re used to supporting our weight with our feet, not our hands. And Bhujapidasana, or Shoulder Pressing Pose, is definitely up there with the best of them. But with a few tips and tricks, you’ll be lifting off in no time.
One of the most challenging aspects of arm balances is a busy mind. Rather than playing the “I can’t” or “I’m scared” game, just play the “I’ll try” game.
Don’t let your mind dictate what your body can do.~Jacqueline Buchanan
Just give it a go, and you might find it’s easier for you and your body than you thought. You also might find that it’s more difficult than other arm balances for you and your body.
Whatever your discovery, believe you can do it, and you can (it just might take a bit of work and a willing attitude to get there).
Arm balances are a fantastic way to strengthen the abs, arms, shoulders, back, and mind. They’re great for increasing flexibility in the shoulders and developing balance on a part of our body we don’t usually use to balance — our hands. Bhujapidasana has the added benefit of opening the hips as well.
Step by Step
Begin in Malasana, or Garland Pose.
Take your arms through the legs and place the palms flat on the floor behind the ankles. Fingers face forward.
Work your upper arm as high up under the knees as possible. Bend the elbows and to create a shelf.
Engage Uddiyana bhanda.
Press firmly into the earth as you play with lifting one foot, then the other off the mat in front of your forearms.
If available, lift both feet off the mat and cross at the ankles.
Tips, Tricks, and Restrictions
Bring your awareness to where the upper arms and inner thighs touch. Squeeze your thighs in against your arms, while simultaneously pressing your arms out against your thighs. This will help you balance and hold the pose for longer.
For all arm balances, I like to take a moment to consciously think, and silently say to myself, “my hands are my feet, my feet are my hands.”
Balance equally on both hands, and distribute the weight evenly on each hand.
Look up, not down at your feet.
Be patient — most arm balances take dedicated practice, and some like Bhujapidasana can take years. Remember wherever you are in this pose and in your practice, is right where you’re meant to be.
Steer clear of this challenging arm balance if you have any shoulder injuries, back pain, or wrist sensitivity.
This pose requires very open hips, so make sure to warm up properly. Think about poses like Eagle that open the hips and shoulders. I also like to sequence this pose as a peak pose between the standing and the floor series. That way the body is open and the mind is ready for a challenge. Another great warm up pose for this is Bound Angle, which we talked about last week, Cradle Rocking, and of course Malasana or Garland Pose.
Follow this pose with Upward Facing Dog, or flow through Chaturanga, Upward Facing Dog, and take a few nourishing breaths in Downward Facing Dog. Most importantly, HAVE FUN WITH IT!
Yoga isn’t serious. If you fall out, smile, laugh, and try again. So what are you waiting for? Roll out that mat, warm on up, and challenge yourself with this advanced arm balance!
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