Most yoga practices call for us to do arm balances, which helps build strength and flexibility for the muscles of our shoulders, arms and hands. But, as an added bonus, doing arm balances also helps build strength and flexibility in other areas of our bodies. In this blog post, we’ll show you the positions that we recommend for practicing arm balances.
For almost a decade, I’ve been teaching yoga classes in a local studio. It’s a passion of mine, and one that I love sharing with others. However, as the years go on, teaching more and more classes, I’ve noticed something. Many of the same people are struggling with more and more injuries as class after class passes. I’ve had to bring extra props to class because someone has twisted their ankle, or is having trouble keeping their back straight. Don’t we all want to practice yoga without having to deal with injuries?
It’s hard to tame the mind, the body, and the emotions. Often, we’re distracted, overwrought or emotionally reactive, and unable to focus on our yoga practice. We become irritated by the environment around us, or by our body, or our breath. We can’t move through poses smoothly or feel our best emotionally. There’s no easy fix, and we often try to force the issue because we’re frustrated or in a rush.
Hand balance. They are an iconic part of the modern yoga scene. The photos we see on magazine covers, in ads and on Instagram inspire yogis around the world every day with their sense of strength, grace and focus.
Sure, they look great, but are they worth all the hype? This yogi says: UNCONDITIONALLY!
Balance postures help us to connect with the present moment. If you also have to balance on your hands or arms instead of your feet, the amount of mental concentration required increases. You can’t balance on your hands if you let your mind wander to food preparation!
The opportunities that handball offers can also help to increase your sense of self-confidence, courage and inner strength. And it’s a fun way to approach our practice and our bodies with curiosity and joy! If you’re new to arm balancing (and balancing in general) and want to work on your strength, why not try this awesome free 30-day yoga challenge? Once you start practicing yoga daily, you will soon feel stronger and more confident!
Hand scales for different levels of exercise
There are many different hand balances, some of which are suitable for beginners, while some postures have complexities and challenges that make them suitable only for experienced yogis.
The central theme of almost all handball opportunities is a strong core. You also need to develop wrist strength and stability* and explore your sense of daring and playfulness. The good news is that there is a manual scale for all levels. Here are some of our favorites.
Entry-level manual scale
1. Raven pose (Bakasana)
Credit : Jacqueline Nguyen.
The raven is a very good starting point to practice the handstand. It can help beginners realize how strong and coordinated they are. So it’s a great way to build self-confidence and, of course, have fun! It strengthens and firms the arms, shoulders, torso and mind.
If you’re afraid of falling forward (which can happen!), put a pillow under it to feel safer.
Tip: Create a more stable base by spreading your fingers and pressing down with the entire brush, including the pads of all five fingers, while looking straight ahead.
2. Sideways raven (Parsva Bakasana)
Credit : Julia Lee
This variant adds an extra level of difficulty, but remains very accessible. This pose is ideal for strengthening the wrists and arms, as well as the oblique muscles on the sides of the torso.
There are several variations that can change the difficulty, and once you’ve mastered the Side Raven, it can be a good foundation for moving on to postures like Kauntinyasana.
Intermediate series on hand
1. Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrkshasana)
Credit : Caitlin Daddona.
See how easy and effortless it is for children to balance on their hands? This fearless sense of play means they don’t think about it, they just do it. This attitude develops our sense of courage and can help us overcome the fear that often accompanies walking upside down.
Fear of falling is common and can be reduced by practicing against a wall and/or with a partner. The handstand helps develop your arm and shoulder strength, and after a while of practice, this pose will help you feel much lighter and in harmony with your body.
Tip: Make sure you warm up and open your shoulders first, and like Crowe, use your whole hand (including the pads of your five fingers) and look away from your hands to consider a more stable base.
2. Octagonal pose (Astavakrasana)
This is an impressive hand scale that is often seen in advertisements for yoga instructors or studios. It’s complicated, but perhaps more accessible than many people think.
Balancing with your body and legs in an asymmetrical position takes practice, but because you’re doing the pose from a seated position, it’s a little less intimidating than other handstands.
It is important to be relaxed from the start to avoid rigidity in your mind that might prevent you from expressing this beautiful and uplifting attitude.
Tip: With most arm balances, your chest should be pushed forward as soon as you hook your legs. This stage often puts people off. To help you do this, you can visualize the light shining into your heart center and allow this light to guide you forward.
Advanced manual scale
1. Scorpion pose (Vrshichikasana)
Credit : Movie MacGregor
Backbends can be intimidating, as can flipping over and balancing on your hands. This pose combines all three options, so it’s in the advanced category for a reason.
The traditional scorpion is performed on the forearms, although it is also performed in a variation of the headstand. These two postures strengthen the whole body and create flexibility in the spine, while promoting a deep level of concentration and focus.
It is recommended that this work be done under the supervision of a qualified teacher.
2. Vishvamitrasana (Sage Vishvamitra posture)
Credit : LetsGlo
As you can see from the picture, this pose builds incredible strength throughout the body, especially in the core, arms and legs. It also opens up the hips, hamstrings and inner thigh muscles. And at this intensity, proper alignment is very important.
The strength, power and stability he cultivates will give you a mega confidence boost.
Hand balancing can help you ease your posture and strengthen your body and mind. They can add a really fun and playful element to yoga and show us what we can do!
*Note: It is important to remember that most hand balancing has a major impact on the wrists. Therefore, if you have wrist problems or injuries, practice with caution and ask your yoga teacher for modifications and postures that are right for you.
Yoga is well-known for its poses and asanas, and I like to do a lot of poses. But there are some poses I never seem to find the time to do, or I don’t find they work for me.. Read more about one arm yoga pose and let us know what you think.
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