Let’s be honest… arm balances at first can seem totally terrifying. But trust me, they can also be fun and energizing — specially with these tips and tricks!
We’ve all seen those mind-boggling photos of yogis who seem to defy gravity with their one-handed balancing acts. And if you’re just starting out with yoga, it can be easy to trick yourself into thinking that these poses will forever be out of your reach.
I’ve been there myself. I spent nearly a year avoiding any arm balance, utterly afraid of failure and falling. But with the right guidance and a bit of courage, I was soon holding the very same postures that used to feel impossible. Not only was it fun, I also felt an enormous surge in confidence and gratitude!
No matter where you are on your yoga journey, practicing arm balances is a powerful way to cultivate strength, balance and mindfulness — all while moving beyond your perceived limitations.
If you’re ready improve your arm balances, then these seven tips will help you get there safely and swiftly:
1. Let Go Of Attachment To The Results
When you’re beginning any new practice, it can become all too easy to get attached to the results. We want to be perfect right now; when we aren’t, we feel like a failure.
But if we let go of the attachment to be or look a certain way, then we open up the door for real freedom and fun. As you begin to practice arm balances, know that it is okay if you don’t get it “right” on your first, second or even tenth try. One day, when you least expect it, you may float into a handstand. Or you may not. Enjoy the process either way.
2. Protect And Strengthen Your Wrists
As you begin practicing and improving your arm balances, it is crucial to protect and strengthen your wrists.
Avoid putting the majority of your body weight on your palms, which can lead to excess stress on the wrists (and disrupt your center of balance). Instead, place your weight on the base of your fingers and the top of your palm, also referred to as the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint.
Warm-up the wrists with gentle circles before moving into any arm balance. Cool-down by placing the hands beneath the feet, palms up; gently massage the wrists with the toes.
With proper alignment, your wrists will keep getting stronger as you continue to practice your arm balances.
3. Find Your Center Of Gravity
One of the biggest mistakes that new students make when practicing arm balances is that their center of gravity is too far back. As mentioned above, avoid placing too much of your body weight in the palms of your hands. Not only can this do damage to the wrists, but it will encourage you to fall back on your feet too easily. Spread your fingers as wide as possible to maximize your foundation.
Also avoid the tendency to look at the ground beneath you. Instead, find a Drishti, or focal point, which is a few feet ahead and steady your gaze here. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes!
4. Ignite Your Inner Fire
One of the biggest misconceptions about arm balances is that they require a lot of arm strength. While you do need to build strength in the wrists, arms and shoulders, being successful at arm balances is truly all about the core. Ignite your inner fire to feel a sense of lifting and buoyancy. By engaging your abdominal muscles, you’ll improve your alignment, increase your balance, and be flying in no time!
If you need to strengthen your core, try incorporating more Navasana (boat pose) and Plank Pose into your practice.
5. Be Willing To Fall
You’ll never be able to improve your arm balance practice if you are afraid to fall. Falling is a part of the learning process, and it is nothing to be scared or ashamed of. Approach your practice with acceptance instead of anxiety, and you might just surprise yourself with what you are capable of!
To minimize your nervousness about falling, surround yourself with blankets, bolsters, and other soft landing spots while practicing.
6. Stay Persistent
One of the most powerful ways to improve your arm balances is to practice regularly. Show up on your mat every day, whether it’s at home or with a community of other yogis. Not every practice has to be an hour and a half of hot-yoga-power-flow. You don’t even need to specifically practice arm balances each day. You’ll still develop additional muscle strength, as well as the flexibility and mindfulness you need to move into more advanced poses, from any and all yoga practice.
7. Have Fun!
The key to anything in life is to have fun! Be patient with yourself, and remember that wherever you are right now is exactly where you are supposed to be. Enjoy the surge of pride when you nail a new arm balance. Laugh at yourself if you fall on your face. Life is all about meeting challenges with both resilience and acceptance.
Practicing arm balances can seem intimidating in the beginning, but they are a great way to build strength, focus, balance and mindfulness. No matter where you are today, follow these seven steps and you’ll improve your arm balances in no time!
Maybe YOU have some additional tips and insights? Share your wisdom with the Zenward community in the comments below. After all, we’re here to support each other 🙂