Yoga Journal

ARM YOURSELF

It’s common to get rattled by arm balances. “Falling flat on your face” is a metaphor for failure, and with these poses it’s an alltoo- literal description of what can happen. So if you’re like most people, you approach arm balances with anxiety, fearing that your arms may not be strong enough to get you airborne. To keep from crashing, you tap into some hard-edged determination. Your knuckles turn white; your face turns red; and you push, push, push.

You might manage to lift off. But it takes more than muscle power and determination to perch comfortably in a pose like Bakasana (Crane Pose; see photo at left). What’s often overlooked is that arm balances require you to relax deeply and release many of your joints and muscles. You need suppleness in your groins, hamstrings, hips, knees, and torso just to get into the shape of most of the poses; once you develop this, you won’t have to work so hard.

That’s not to say you can forget all about strength. But if your upper body is strong enough to support a healthy Plank Pose, you probably don’t need any more arm strength than you already have.

True, you may need to build core strength by making poses such as Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose) part of your regular routine. But if you struggle with arm balances, shift your energies away from bulking up those biceps. Try this friendlier, and perhaps counterintuitive, approach

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