top of page
  • Writer's pictureZohar

5 Yoga Arm Balances Beginner Yogis must practice

Updated: Jan 9

Arm balances are the perfect way to level up your yoga practice and build strength, balance, and self-confidence. Even if they look intimidating, arm balances are an amazing way to also empower yourself. In this blog post we will explore 5 key arm balances beginner yogis can start practicing today.

Yes, also as a beginner yogi!

With the right approach and dedication, we can all take the flight in our mats and add these fun arm balances to our practice. So get ready to start your arm balance game, and build your strength, improve your patience and boost your self-confidence. 3, 2, 1... Let's go!

Yoga Arm Balance

Before diving into these 5 arm balances, it's important to mention that establishing a strong foundation in your practice it is also a must. What does this mean? You should add to your practice asanas that build strength in your core, arms, shoulders and wrists. Poses like Plank, Side Plank, Chaturanga Dandasana, and Dolphin are excellent for developing the required strength to help with arm balances and they are very easy to add to any yoga flow.

On the other hand, if you are practicing arm balances as a stand alone, and not as part of a yoga flow; you must warm up properly. Warming up is crucial before attempting to balance in your arms. Start always with gentle stretches for your wrists, and then add drills to activate your muscles and prepare your body for the holds ahead. In our On Demand Library we have a wrist health stretching routine that it will help you improving the mobility in your wrist and get yourself ready to put more weight in your wrists. In addition, having a strong core it is important to progress in your arm balances, so try to stick to this 8 minutes Daily Core practice to increase your strength and stabilisation instantly.

Yoga Arm balances

As important it is to build strength in your body, and warm up properly; staying playful it is also crucial. Even if it is easier said than done, we should all approach arm balances with a playful attitude. If we take ourselves too seriously, we will work with expectations, which they block the growth process. If instead, we embrace the joy of trying something new, and letting it go any attachment to the result, we will feel more rewarded. Keep always in mind that arm balances are a process of exploration and growth.

We will now dive into the 5 arm balances beginner yogis must start practicing right now. In the Arm Balance Series within the On Demand Library, you will find the tutorials for each of these poses, plus a wrist health routine that will help you getting ready to place more weight in your hands.

Crow Pose Yoga

Crow Pose (Kakasana) is one of the basic arm balances that all beginner yogis usually practice. It challenges both strength, balance, and your mind! It helps building shoulder strength and preparing mentally for more advanced arm balances and inversions.

I always tell my students not to rush the pose. It is preferable that you first get the right alignment in the upper body, and you lift one foot at a time. On another note, I often see students not bringing the shoulders forward or having the hands to narrow. These common mistakes will stop you from progressing, so do pay attention to your upper body's alignment when you next try to hold Kakasana. You can also try placing a cushion in front of you, if you feel like your mind needs some extra security against the fear of face-planting. Once you have overcome the mind game, you can also try placing blocks under the feet to give you extra height, like we do it in the Arm Balance Series. However, remember that you do not need to rush it, and that it is best if you lift one foot first up, and then the other; rather than trying to lift both feet quickly simultaneously.

I have had students with a wide range of age, from 20s to 60s, trying this arm balance in my yoga classes - so age is not an excuse. However, it is a pose not to be underestimated. And do you want to know a fun fact? It took me 3 years to be able to hold this pose. I hold other arm balances earlier than the Crow Pose, like the Firefly Pose that we will see later in this post.

Tips for practicing Crow Pose:

  • Elbows and wrists should be in the same line, and shoulders much more forward than what you think at first. The inside of the elbow should be facing forward.

  • Use a folded blanket or cushion in front of you to help you overcome any fear of face-planting.

  • Engage your core muscles throughout the pose. This will help create stability and lift your hips higher, so it is easier to lift your feet off the ground.

  • Distribute the weight evenly through your hands and fingertips. Use the fingertips as the "breaker" if you see you are falling forward.

Side Crow Yoga

Side Crow Pose (Parsva Kakasana) is supposed to be an intermediate arm balancing yoga pose, however it is often easier to get it than the actual Crow Pose. Although only if you follow a trick that I will share with you in the next lines.

This pose will not only challenge your core strength, arm strength, and balance; but it will also defy your spine's mobility. The deeper you twist your torso, the easier it will be to get the Side Crow.

Unless with the Crow Pose, where there is no room to "cheat"; in the Side Crow, we can connect our lower body to our arms and this will aid the hold. Once you twist and place the hands on the mat, knee touches the arm. This is one contact point. When leaning forward, you can use the thigh/hip as a second contact point to the other arm. Once you get these two touch points, just lean the shoulders a tiny bit more forward, and your feet will lift off the ground automatically. Eventually, you do not want to have this second touch point. However, as a beginner, this modification is extremely useful to build strength and self-confidence on the pose! In the Arm Balances Series in the On Demand Library, we break down the pose and explore all the possible options to accommodate yogis from all levels.

Tips for practicing Side Crow Pose:

  • Work on your spine's mobility and focus getting a solid twist before attempting to hold the pose.

  • Engage your core muscles and arms throughout the pose to help with balance and stability.

  • Do not move your head too much. Fixing your gaze on a point on the floor will help you to aid with balance.

  • Once you feel comfortable in the pose, you can try to extend one leg or both legs simultaneously.

Elephant Trunk Pose Yoga

Elephant-Trunk Pose (Eka Hasta Bhujasana) is a pose that will challenge your strength, flexibility and mobility. It requires you to connect deeper with your body. Therefore, it is a perfect pose to start to work on as a beginner yogi and help you stay consistent and improve your patience.

In order to prepare our bodies and mind to hold the Elephant-Trunk pose, we should work in poses that require specific mobility and flexibility to open and hold this asana. Some of the poses that will help us opening the body for the Eka Hasta Bhujasana are the Compass Pose, the Seated Forward Fold and the Figure Four. In the ZYF On Demand Library you will find an hour group class recording in Spanish, where we warm up and prepare the body for this and other arm balances.

Then again, you need to build the strength to hold the lift. If you practice Power Yoga or you do intense core workouts like the TRX, your core and shoulders will be more than ready for this lift. The following class is an old, but a spicy Power Yoga class I created for my students. If you do it regularly, it will help you building the strength and endurance not only for the Elephant Trunk pose, but overall for all arm balances!

Tips for practicing Elephant-Trunk Pose:

  • Work separately on your hamstring flexibility and hip mobility; and on your core and shoulder strength.

  • Start by practicing with blocks under the hands. And if you can't lift the extended leg off the mat, do not quit: you still want to hold that lift.

  • Fix your gaze on a point on the floor to help you to aid with balance.

  • Engage your core to keep your spine a tiny bit rounded. This will help you with the balance too.

Eight Angle Pose Yoga

Eight-Angle Pose (Astavakrasana) is the favorite arm balance of many of my yogi friends and students. There is something in this asana that it makes it challenging and extra fun. It requires a combination of flexibility with strength, and you can enter in this pose through the Elephant-Trunk or the Compass pose.

I always recommend to my students to work first on their Elephant-Trunk, and afterwards spend time playing with the Eight-Angle pose. Once you have this pose, you can also enter through the Firefly pose (our next arm balance). To be able to bring your whole body parallel to the floor, poses like the Chaturanga Dandasana and flow like Down Dog to Dolphin work really nicely. You basically want to strengthen the upper body, specially the shoulders and arms.

Tips for practicing Eight-Angle Pose:

  • Include to your practice flows and postures that require a high degree of arm and core strength.

  • Start by practicing first the Elephant Trunk pose and get deeper into your Compass pose.

  • Practice first with blocks under the hands.

  • Fix your gaze on a point on the floor to help you to aid with balance.

Firefly Pose Yoga

Firefly Pose (Tittibhasana) is my favorite arm balance. I could balance it before the Crow Pose. How come? Well, like in any sports, in the yoga and arm balances practice, your body mechanics play a crucial role when it comes to unlock poses. Depending if you are naturally stronger or more flexible, you will find ease in one pose or in another.

Firefly Pose is an arm balance that requires a certain extend of flexibility in your hamstrings, and also strength in the upper body. Even if it looks very advance, you can start building this pose as a beginner. The Firefly, together with the other four arm balances, it is a great choice to work on: it will help you develop strength, balance and work harder in your lower body's flexibility.

In the Arm Balance Series we also look into this asana and how to build it from the very beginning to a more advance variation.

Tips for practicing Firefly Pose:

  • Make sure you have warmed up your wrist, and activated your shoulders and core before attempting to hold the pose.

  • If you can not extend your legs, stay with knees bent. Better to hold and develop the strength in the upper body, than giving up because "legs do not straighten".

  • Practice first with blocks under the hands.

  • Fix your gaze on a point on the floor to help you to aid with balance.

Firefly Pose Yoga Tittibhasana

Arm balances might seem intimidating at first, but with dedication, patience, and a playful spirit, you will rock them! Embrace the journey, and enjoy the small victories along the way. It is amazing what our bodies are capable of, if we only stay consistent and listen to our bodies.

Remember: the beauty of arm balances is the journey and the growth you will personally harvest along the way.

Enjoy defying gravity and experiencing the freedom of flight in your practice!

191 views0 comments


bottom of page