This week we’ve been exploring arm balances in some of my classes.
Arm balances are tricky things requiring strength, balance and a little bit of bravery and faith in your abilities. But they can also be lots of fun and incredibly satisfying when you finally become airborne. Plus there are lots of challenging transitions from arm balances to tackle once you’ve got the fundamentals of arm balances under your belt.
For instance, you can try transitioning from crow to tripod headstand or jumping back from crow to chaturanga?
This week – and for some classes we’ve been looking at these for a while – we have mainly been focusing on the classic Crow arm balance (with a couple of side crow poses thrown in for some lucky students).
Below I have put together a few hints and tips on how to find your balance in Crow pose. The list is far from exhaustive and based in part on my own experiences of trying to get to grips with arm balances. Let me know how you get on…
1) Where are you looking? If you look straight down to the ground – that could well be where you head. Keep your eyes up and slightly ahead of you towards to front of your mat to avoid somersaulting over.
2) Have a little faith in yourself. Easy to say, tougher to do. But believe you can do it and just give it a go. Move slowly, calmly and breathe. And if you wobble, or even fall, you aren’t going to fall far.
3) Have a safety blanket: If you are really scared of face-planting – and we all do it from time to time – you could put a cushion or blanket in front of you to soften your fall and boost your confidence. This is a good way to practice at home if you are a little nervous. BUT don’t become too reliant on that safety blanket! Or perhaps use a block under where your forehead would rest if you were to go forward too much. Or head to your nearest park! Grass tends to be softer than a studio floor.
4) Strength Drills – Get Your Core and Arms Working: Arm balances do need a degree of arm and core strength. Engaging your abdominals/core helps create that sense of ‘lift’ and lightness in the pose. However, you don’t need to be supremely strong to get airborne – it is also about finding that point of balance successfully rather than muscling your way through it.
To build up strength, warm up with a few vinyasas and practice your chaturangas (correctly – but that’s for another post). Straight arm holds are good too – so practice holding planks and side planks.
5) Hands: Your hands play a key role in your arm balances. Make sure you distribute your weight through your whole hand rather than dumping it all into the lower part of the hand. Pay attention with how you use your hands in planks, chaturangas, and side planks. There’s a feeling of interplay between your hand and the floor when you are in an arm balance. Tune in to what your hands are telling you.
Have fun and don’t take it too seriously. If you fall, try again!