Have you ever taken a yoga class where students seem to effortlessly fly in arm balance yoga poses? Many people that do yoga, especially beginners, see arm balances and think they are unattainable. This couldn’t be further from the truth—which is why we put together this simple guide that will help you build strength and balance for even the most challenging arm balances.
Strength-Building Arm Balances
Practicing yoga helps prevent osteoporosis by building bone density, and arm balance poses are no exception. Arm balances yoga poses increase strength and stamina in the core, arms, wrist and spine, help stabilize the shoulder joint and improve balance. Mentally, arm balance poses build confidence and help you face your fear of falling. On top of the health benefits, arm balances are cool!
Arm balances are challenging, so start small and build strength using these strength-building poses, then work your way up to the more challenging arm balances.
1. Plank Pose (Phalakasana)
Starting on all fours, press your hands into the ground then step one foot back at a time, making a strong line with your body and engaging your core. Plank Pose is typically taught with the cue of placing hands directly under shoulders, but if you walk your hands just an inch forward from being directly under the shoulder, it creates more stability in the shoulder joint. Try hovering one foot off the ground at a time to engage the core even more!
2. Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)
Laying on your side, press your bottom hand into the ground, coming onto the outer edge of your bottom foot and stacking the other foot on top. Make sure your hand is placed forward, not directly under the shoulder. Strongly engage the core to lift your hips towards the ceiling. Be mindful to not let the hips shift forward, backward or droop.
3. Upward Plank Pose (Purvottanasana)
Come into Staff Pose and lean slightly back, placing your hands flat on the ground with your fingers pointing toward your bum, or outward, to the left and right (if the other option is too intense). Press strongly into the ground to lift your hips upward, opening your chest and making a strong line with your body. Try flattening your feet and pressing your toes into the ground to make it more challenging.
4. Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
If you’re attempting arm balances, it’s likely you’re familiar with Downward-Facing Dog. Starting on all fours, press your hands and feet into the ground to lift your hips into the sky. Reach your heels for the floor and try lifting sit bones high to flatten your back. Practice holding this pose for 10 to 30-second intervals and shifting from Downward Dog to Plank pose.
5. Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana)
Lay flat on your stomach and place your elbows directly under your shoulders with your forearms pointing straight forward. Press your forearms into the ground, curl your toes and lift your body off the ground, so you’re supported by your feet and forearms. Walk your feet forward to lift your hips up.
Practice pressing your hands firmly into the floor to try bringing your ears in line with your biceps to reach your hips higher. Dolphin Pose is ideal for building strength for Forearm Stand—a pose you’ll likely get to if you keep practicing!
Don’t Give Up!
Be patient in your journey into flight. Arm balances are challenging and take just as much mental discipline as physical strength, so don’t give up! You’re well on your way to more advanced arm balance poses like Four-Limbed Staff Pose, Crow Pose, Crane Pose and Shoulder-Pressing Pose.