Let me tell us all something that we already know: arm balance are COMPLEX.
For every yogi who finds them inspiring and “fun”, there are at least three more that feel intimidated and frustrated by the process.
As a yoga teacher, including arm balance into flow classes feels important. I want my students to understand that these poses are accessible, in some form, for every single practitioner. They are truly for EVERYONE and they offer incredibly important lessons.
Here are my top three reasons for rocking at least one arm balance in every practice:
- Flying over fear. Arm balances are empowering! They give you permission to get past the fear and push your mental belief systems. There are so many times yogis talk themselves out of arm balances because of mental blocks. Once you can figure out where your body is in space and how to balance your weight, there is nothing stopping you from flying beside your own thoughts. Through practice and understanding of arm balances, you will train your mind to look past fear and embrace uncertainty with grace.
- Build better self-awareness. In order to get into arm balances, you need to understand where your body is in space and activate a variety of muscles to lift off. When you begin your arm balance journey, it can feel awkward and frustrating because you are unsure of how to get in and out of them. This should not limit you, but instead inspire you to develop a deeper understanding of your muscles, breathe, and center of balance. As you grow and begin to weave arm balances into your practice, you will feel more self-aware and strong.
- Build strength. Arm balances require a lot of strength and stability. As you begin to work them into your yoga practice, it is important to get into the general shape of the arm balance and find your edge. Your edge will be different from others. It may be the moment before lifting your feet off, or getting your legs in position to lift off, or it may be finding a few seconds of balance. Wherever you are, find your edge and build stamina by holding that position. This will not only build tons of arm and shoulder girdle strength, it will also build mental strength. Start to notice the moment right before you want to give up on an arm balance. What is your mind saying? Is it a pattern? Do you hear this internal conversation often? As soon as you identify your insecurity, turn it into a positive intention and develop new belief systems that are empowering.
Arm balances are the perfect opportunity to practice persistence. They allow you to actively practice pushing past fear while building self-awareness and strength. Start with introducing one or two to your daily practice and embrace the changes happening within and throughout.
Fly on, yogis!
Katie Fanning is a RYT 200 hour certified yoga instructor and teaches alignment based vinyasa classes in Princeton, New Jersey. Katie found yoga after completing a life long sports career and was inspired by the holistic and balanced approach of the practice. She immediately fell in love yoga because of the mind-body connection it had to offer and the positive transformation, both inside and out, she experiences each time she steps on her mat. For Katie, yoga is the art of awareness and precision. Inspired by her teaching and the students she has worked with, Katie created a wellness lifestyle blog to share her insight at lifeomstyle.com.
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