My yoga arm balancing postures

Yoga poses and practice

Handstand and arm balance postures

In any yoga class playtime is my ultimate time. I just love hanging out upside down just because it’s fun and puts a huge smile on my face. When it comes to handstand and arm balance postures in general, I light up immediately. However, there have only been a few instances where that has happened. And, sadly, never for too long.

Exhibit a, b c, d… Scratch that a, b, c, d because I could use the entire alphabet as examples.

So as it’s demonstrated in picture (a) in April 2017 I am seen practicing a handstand, but the reason I can’t hold it eludes me. I couldn’t even stay in the picture frame ????

 

Handstand practice
(a) Handstand practice – going up & falling out

 

I know I have some core work to focus on so that my lower and upper back is stronger and in no way compromised with compression.

 

Handstand scissor legs
(b) Entering my handstand with more control

 

And if you look over to picture (b) which was in July 2017, I am definitely entering the posture stronger, but my hands are too far apart and I was overly excited at that moment (laughing too much! – How dare I have fun while traveling and doing yoga?!).

 

Supported handstand - wall
(c) Supported handstand

 

Then in picture (c) we won’t even go there because I just hung out while a wall held me up. Not much effort that day – March 2017) – but I promised I’d put everything up here and the evidence is on my Instagram page anyway, so.

I have much work to do! Okay, now I love balancing postures in general which must be because of the gymnast and joker in me. Some poses come to me naturally, like the crane and any headstand variation. Here’s why.

Naughty kids

My brother taught me how to do a headstand when I was really little. I mean little like we still shared the same room, toddler kind of little. One night, when we were meant to be asleep, he showed me this cool diamond and triangle trick. So you make a diamond shape with your index fingers and thumbs and position the front of your head inside the diamond. Then you pull your hands back until your head and hands form a triangle, you send your bum up, lean in until your legs takeoff and voila!

It was like magic, I went up and stayed there! As a kid it was such a cool moment!

But, as you well know, the same is not true for my handstands. Nor is it for my forearm balance. Demonstrated in (d) Now yes, this is a moment I got it right, but it took a lot of tries that afternoon to get into it and naturally, I didn’t stay in the position or come out of it with control. I also did not do a lot of preparation poses before, which is really bad and dangerous. I’m working on it. But this was early 2016.

 

Yoga forearm balance
(d) Forearm balance 2016

 

Yoga postures for strength and to build stamina

Through my yoga practice, and over time, my progress has become stronger and somewhat less hopping and hoping. I have been practicing preparation postures to get into the poses calmly and with more control.

I am currently more focussed on the preparation postures and will post my progress and falls again. Until then I made an agreement with myself… No more ‘jumping’ into it!

 

My 11 best arm balance preparation postures

  • Sun salutation A and B
  • Downward facing dog
  • Spread feet stretching pose (Prasarita padottanasana a)
  • Plank pose
  • Eagle pose
  • Crescent pose
  • Boat pose
  • Bridge
  • Wheel
  • Dolphin pose
  • Supported reverse handstand – half and full

 

How to warm up and prepare for handstands

This preparation breakdown

I flow through sun salutation A and B for warming up, so I do lots of rounds of that. The other poses listed I thought it’s important to note that I don’t do them in this specific sequence. I change it up a lot and also interchange crescent pose with warrior one and add on warrior two sometimes. It’s just to keep my self-practice fresh.

 

The listed postures are the ones I specifically find to help me the most while I’m doing a full flow leading up to my handstand play time. Dolphin pose, for me, is brutal. My shoulders always burn (so good) after so I know it’s an area I need to strengthen. Any variation of prasarita I just enjoy so much because it makes me feel like I’m halfway to my handstand.

 

My prasarita A variation

A lot of the time, I’ll end off my preparation practice with a sort of prasarita A. I bring my feet in closer ever so slightly and rather than being flat on my feet, I get up on my tippy toes and lean further forward into my hands. Another good way to build all round upper body stamina and strength. Sometimes I take it even further, starting with my feet on the couch and my hands on the floor. This is just to go deeper into the posture. And I remember to use my piano fingers before I go onto my toes – it’s a cool tip I got from a few teachers.

 

What do you do for your preparation? Do handstands come quite easily to you?

The times I actually got it

I recall two very sure moments of experiencing absolute control performing a handstand balance pose.

And both of these occasions were in class with a qualified yoga teacher. The first time I ever held a handstand for a while, I was spoken through a sequence of steps. And I remember my teacher telling me to go up using my hips. It was a similar magic-kind-of-feeling. But I just can’t remember what he said and also, he is balancing somewhere in USA (the last I heard) and I don’t know how to reach him. That was back then – maybe around four or five years ago.

 

Skipping forward a couple years it happened again in class, but this one was not guided in a specific way or directed at me. It was that sort of play time in class where you get one or two minutes to try out your balances after a series of preparation postures and your body is warm and strong.

 

Now I am wondering whether this occurred because I had the security blanket of having a teacher close by and knew it was okay to fall out. Or perhaps that I worked up to the peak posture gradually. Maybe both. Not that two occasions is hardly a start to labelling it scientific evidence, but still.

 

Oh wait, I remember something my teacher said. I need to try something – I’ll be back soon!

 

But please send me your ideas or preparation insight for handstand balancing – I really want to nail this one. I will definitely come back with some more “evidence” after I try this out.

 

Stay in the loop with my progress and the life hacks that get me there, here on The Mixed Beauty.

  1. Faith

    Sep 8, 2017 at 8:32 am

    I love going thru what didn’t work and why not. This is so practically informative. I love it!!!

    1. Rene Joy

      Sep 8, 2017 at 11:21 am

      And I love that you comment about what you love and why 🙂
      Thank you so much for your enthusiasm – I can feel your great energy!

  2. Sandile

    Sep 28, 2017 at 2:01 am

    It took me a while before I started reading, but Oh my !! Now I can’t stop. Thanks you for sharing.

    1. Rene Joy

      Sep 28, 2017 at 9:54 am

      Oh Sandile, this is heart-warming news! I am both happy that you have started reading here and that you can’t stop! ????

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