From the outside, arm balancing postures look like they are all arm strength. Two hands on the floor, and her feet are where??! Actually, arm balancing doesn’t require guns of steel… Let’s see what’s really going on here…
The bedrock of a solid arm balancing practice boils down to core strength. In order to take flight in an arm balance, the first step is to align your anatomical infrastructure for success (looking for 90 degree angles, bones supporting bones… we’ll get back to this later), and from there it’s all core strength.
While the poses below specifically work the core muscles, everything is attached to your core. If you bring your awareness and attention to your core when you are moving through your yoga practice, you will build core strength and improve all other aspects of your practice. This is especially important in transitioning between poses. With a newfound focus on core, you’ll find more lightness and ease in your practice, floating from pose to pose.
As summer is beginning to simmer down, let’s keep up the heat by firing up your core with this fun and challenging flow! To start with a warm-up, move through your Sun Salutations – about 5-6 rotations of Surya Namaskara A and Surya Namaskara B. Here’s some guidance on how to perfect your sun salutations.
The next part is a flow of a pair of poses. Starting from downward facing dog, 1) complete the two poses on your right side, 2) take an optional vinyasa or press back to your downward facing dog, 3) complete the two poses on your left side. You can do that sequence once or twice for each of the following flows.
Flow 1: Warrior 3 → Eka Pada Bakasana (one-legged crow)
From downward facing dog, step your right foot forward, in between your hands. Shift your weight forward into your right foot, walking your hands forward as you do so, and allowing the back leg to start to float off the mat. Keep lifting up the back leg until it reaches your hip height. Keep the hands planted, or bring them into the air in your favorite variation. Stay here for 3-10 breaths.
Bring your hands back onto the mat and land your left knee on top of your left elbow. Bend your arms like you were going into chaturanga, and shift your weight forward, creating a 90 degree bend in the arms. Take your right knee to your right elbow, finding yourself in crow pose. Stay here, or extend the right leg for one-legged crow. Repeat on the left side.
Flow 2: Twisting Lunge → Side Crow
From downward facing dog, step your right foot in between your hands, then twist to the right, hooking your left elbow on the outside of your right thigh and pressing your hands together in namaste. Stay here for 3-10 breaths.
Shift your weight into your right leg and step your left leg up into twisting chair. Reach your hands down to the floor to your right. Bend your arms like in chaturanga, keeping the elbows pointed back. Keeping the connection between your left elbow and right thigh, shift your weight forward and float the feet into side crow. Repeat on the left side.
Round it out with one final vinyasa, a few of your favorite stretches or long-held poses, and finally, find yourself in savasana. Ahhh…