Arm balances are a great way to build strength on your foundation and core. And while they can be more difficult than they look, it’s too easy to give up when the pose becomes uncomfortable. But this is the point where the pose actually begins, where you must focus the flow of your breath to that exact point of discomfort and choose joy and strength over resentment and “I can’t.” With practice and perseverance, there really isn’t much you can’t do. Bring that effort to the mat, know that you’re enough and try these 10 arm balancing poses below. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish! Feel free to add these poses into your flow, or if you do them one by one, try holding for 30-60 seconds.
PLEASE REMEMBER: Discomfort in your poses is okay, but pain is not. Listen to your body and only push yourself as far as you are able. Be mindful of attempting arm balances if you’ve recently had shoulder or wrist injuries, and never under any circumstances dip your shoulders below your elbows. This is especially common in chaturanga. You could be putting yourself at risk for serious shoulder/rotator cuff injury if you allow your shoulders to drop below your elbows.
1: Dolphin Plank Pose
Dolphin Plank, or Forearm Plank, is exactly how it sounds. Begin in High Plank, then lower your forearms down onto the floor creating a ninety degree angle with your arms making sure to keep your gaze forward to avoid straining in your neck. Dolphin Plank works and strengthens the core along with the arm muscles, which are the muscles mostly used for any arm balancing pose.
2: Baby Grasshopper Pose
Start this pose sitting on the mat in Seated Forward Fold. Cross one leg over the opposite leg and firmly ground down onto the mat. Turn slightly to the side, facing your foot and grab your other foot with the opposite hand (you can also hold onto your shin depending on flexibility). Press your other hand onto the mat. With that hand and your foot rooted take a breath and use your core to lift your hips off of the floor.
The one hand and the one foot should be pressed evenly onto the mat, supporting your weight. Keep your chest low towards the mat. This pose looks difficult, but is one of the easier arm balances and is great for beginners. This helps when beginning arm balances as it strengthens the upper body, but also making it easier since your body weight is evenly distributed between the arm and the foot.
3: Downward Facing Dog Pose
For Downward Facing Dog or “Down Dog,” raise up from High Plank or Table Top, keeping your legs straight and feet ground down. Make sure that your knees are aligned with your elbows, your chest is towards the mat, and raise your sitting bones up towards the ceiling making an upside-down “V” with your body. You can “walk the dog” by pedaling each foot gently forward, one at a time. This pose strengthens the upper body muscles making arm balances easier to hold for a greater amount of time.
4: Crow Pose
Begin this arm balance from Child’s Pose, High Plank or Table Top. Bend your arms so you’re as close to a 90-degree angle as possible, and place one knee at a time on your triceps, using the as a “shelf” to hold you up. Always keep your core engaged and find your drishti, or focal point in the room to help with balance.
Keep your elbows above your wrist to prevent injuries. It’s easy to forget to breath, so make sure to be mindful of this as well. Crow Pose strengthens your arm muscles, your core, and your abdominal organs.
6: Baby Crow Pose
Baby Crow is a little easier because it is a lower arm balance then some of the others. From Dolphin or Child’s Pose, Place your forearms on the mat and lean forward into the mat, being mindful to not strain your neck One by one raise your knees up onto your tricep “shelf” and keep your feet flexed and toes pointed. This is a great arm balance beginner pose and gets your body ready for more arm balances as you practice more and more.
5: L-Sit Pose
The L-Sit Pose looks exactly how it sounds. This is especially helpful if you use yoga blocks. Begin in Seated Forward Fold on your mat and raise your body tp a ninety degree angle. Flex your feet pointing your toes forward and use your hands to push off of the yoga blocks, lifting yourself straight up, being sure to not strain your wrists. This pose will also strengthen the arm muscles.
7: Arching Three Legged Dog Pose
Start this pose out in Downward Facing Dog and then gently lift one leg and bring that foot over to the opposite side of your body. Keep your toes pointed and your core engaged, and repeat on the other side. This pose not only feels great but is only a couple of steps away from lowering your forearms to the mat and lifting both legs into Scorpion Pose Arm Balance. Using Arching Three Legged Dog as a nice base, step by step you will get there, plus, it’s an excellent hip opener!
8: Reversed Table Top Pose
For Reversed Table Top Pose, you can start off in Downward Facing Dog, raising one leg to “flip your dog.” You could also try this pose from Bridge Pose, with your knees up and hands at your side, palms down. Gently lift off of your mat using your palms and soles. Make sure your wrists are evenly stacked beneath your shoulders and elbows, with your knees bent at 90 degrees. This pose easily strengthens just about every part of the body and is great for toning.
9: Handstand Progression
Handstand Progression, like all inversions are a great way to get some new perspective; and, they are much easier than they There are a variety of different ways and methods that you can do a handstand progression. Feel free to use a wall or a partner to spot you. Begin in Downward Facing Dog facing the wall.
Walk your hands halfway back to your feet, and use your core to help you lift up, one leg at a time. Remember to flex your ankles at a 90-degree angle, and enjoy this upper arm and chest strengthener. When you lower your legs to the mat, be sure to rest in Child’s Pose for a few beats so your don’t get lightheaded by standing upright right away.
10: Upward Facing Dog Pose
Upward Facing Dog is a delicious stretch for your upper body. It’s similar to Cobra Pose, except your forearms, thighs and shins aren’t touching your mat. From Chaturanga, untuck your toes engage your core as you push away from the mat with your hands, using the strength of your arms. Keeping your pelvic area low, chest high, and arms straight. You will feel the power of this pose from your toes as the energy flows through your to the top of your head.
With these 10 arm balances, you’ll notice longer, leaner muscles and a stronger core. Grab your mat, turn up your favorite yoga playlist, and give these ten poses a go!