How To Achieve Arm Balances in Yoga

Arm balancing poses in yoga have been my nemesis ever since I began practicing more than 4 years ago. Most people in class get into crane without any difficulty or effort. Not for me. I barely can get my toes off the ground for 3 seconds without toppling over. In December when I did Grow Soul Beautiful’s #YogaADay Challenge, I cringed at posting this picture.

Crane Pose - happyfitmama.com

I was lucky enough to get one decent pic with my feet off the floor all thanks to a fast shutter speed. I vowed then and there that I would make it a point to work on my arm balances and inversions. Very fitting since this year my intention is to find balance in my life.

I know what my problem is – fear. Fear of falling flat on my face and breaking my nose. Fear of my wrists breaking from under weight. Knowing that I have difficulty with crane, I approach the pose with anxiety – I hold my breath and tense up. All things that do not help at all in achieving anything, particularly a yoga pose.

According to Yoga Journal and my new yoga teacher, it’s not about having enough strength in your arms and core. Sure you need strength to hold the pose but it’s mostly about relaxing and opening the body specifically the hips and groin. If you can hold plank or Chaturanga Dandasana (4-limbed staff pose) you have enough strength. I’ve got no problem with those two poses. Essentially, it’s about letting go of fear and relaxing. Obviously something I need to work on.

There are a few poses that are suggested to help achieve opening of the hips and safely rounding the back since arm balances are so compact. You want to be able to practically roll yourself into a ball.

Marichi I - happyfitmama.comand

Garland Pose - happyfitmama.com

To release tension in the hips and legs, these poses are suggested:

Prep for Arm Balances - happyfitmama.com

Since I’ve begun to focus on improving my arm balances (focusing on crane as a starting point), I have noticed a slight difference. Relaxing, breathing and looking forward rather than down have helped. I have also begun to be less harsh on myself. If I try to hard, it’s not going to happen. It’ll happen one day and when it does I’ll probably fall right out of the pose because I’ll be so shocked and happy!

Do you have a nemesis pose in yoga or any other activity?

42 comments on “How To Achieve Arm Balances in Yoga

  1. I think you are pretty amazing with what you CAN do, and also for being determined to nail the inversions. When it comes to yoga, I am pretty quick to give in to my limitations, which is just sad! So keep at it and I have no doubt you’ll get there.
    misszippy1 recently posted..Into the woodsMy Profile

  2. My favorite way to ‘get into’ crane is to start in down dog. Then ‘walk the feet’ up to my hands, tuck my knees as close as I can into my armpits, lean forward just a tad and stand on my tip toes until I’m ready for ‘lift off’! My yoga teacher that I’ve been going to recently taught me that trick and it might help you too (on top of the stretching :) )
    Nicole recently posted..Healthy & Fun Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas & GIVEAWAYMy Profile

  3. My hips are what give me trouble. I have been working on letting go of tension and letting go of the expectations. I will work to open them and ok with where I am at with that part of my practice but its taken months for it to not hurt anymore to sit in easy pose even though it still looks like it hurts :)

    Put a pillow in front of you when you do crow. It might help mentally to get past the fear. Also practice in your mind how to fall. Imagine yourself turning your face to the side so you dont hit your nose. And then imagine yourself being fine, laughing, and trying again. Face plants happen but its the fear of them that is the worst part.

  4. Yes, fear is what totally holds me back with regard to arm balances and inversions. Those are definitely my two nemesis (nemesi?) too! I do feel like my wrists are going to break and that they are not capable of holding my weight – in both arm balances and handstand. I know that a lot of it has to do with letting go and releasing but it’s so hard. Crow is the only arm balance that I can do and I figured it out relatively easily. Everything else? Nearly impossible for me. With crow, I try to remember not to look straight down at the ground but to look a few inches forward so that my head is lifted. I think that helps with the balance.

    I love that you are working on this too. Let’s conquer those inversions and arm balances!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Friday Round-Up: StrongMy Profile

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