10 reasons why you need arm balances in your life
Ready to tap into your inner strength, courage and fearlessness?
Need to break free of things weighing you down?
If you’re lacking motivation lately to get stronger and work on your yoga and calisthenics arm balances then keep reading. It’s never too late to begin because your body will respond well to fitness challenges. You can even build muscle and bone mass in the later decades of life, and I’m no spring chicken myself!
Arm balances can be both intimidating and fun (plus many other things), and many yoga/fitness enthusiasts find it difficult to resist them. I can relate to that! The good news is that these postures come in a wide variety of styles and difficulty levels, so usually most people can find an arm balance that is within their reach. There are so many benefits to giving them a go, it just requires some strength and dedication.
Even though arm balances are hard for most people, there are many benefits if you accept the challenge and really work on them. Through hard work and detailed tips and tricks to work on in your practice you might make these arm balances a little easier.
So if you’re ready to get stronger, here’s 10 reasons why you need arm balances in your life…
1. Sharpen your mental discipline
Invigorate yourself by having a go at new things and put yourself in some interesting positions. While balancing in many shapes and angles it will be virtually impossible to think of anything else. Turn yourself into a human pretzel and see if you’re still distracted! There’s so much diversity in arm balances, you can get creative with many variations and build better self-awareness along the way.
Arm balances will challenge your mind and body to remain balanced. You can achieve this through the alignment of body awareness and focused attention. That’s the most important thing. Keeping your mind on your intention and in the moment gives your mind the clarity it needs, plus you can have a great time doing it!
Some of the most common yoga arm balances like crow, grasshopper, astavakrasana, firefly, and of course dolphin (forearm stand), can take quite a bit of effort to achieve. But there’s so much you can do now to find your way into these poses. There are planks, side planks and all kind of strength drills that you can do to build power in your body and focus your mind, so why wait?
2. Develop your core strength
Strong core muscles make it easier to do many activities. Weak or inflexible core muscles can impair how well your arms and legs function, and that saps power from many of the moves you make in yoga. Think of your core muscles as the sturdy central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body. No matter where motion starts, it ripples upward and downward to adjoining links of the chain. Properly building up your core cranks up the power you need, like recharging a power station.
A strong core also enhances balance and stability, helping to prevent falls and injuries during any physical activities, particularly transitions between yoga postures. In fact, if you didn’t have a strong core then you wouldn’t have stability in any physical exercise. A strong core will help support your lower back and bring inner strength.
3. Face your fears and insecurities
Arm balances are empowering!
They give you permission to get past doubt and any limited mental belief systems. There are so many times yogis talk themselves out of arm balances because of mental blocks. But once you can figure out where your body is in space and how to balance your weight safely, there is nothing stopping you from achieving your goals. Through your practice and detailed understanding of arm balances you’ll train your mind to look past fear and embrace the evolution of your practice.
4. Keep your bones sturdy
As bipeds, people come to yoga relatively weak in the upper body. This weakness can be due to a lack of regular work with the arms, shoulders, chest, and abdomen. Unfortunately, this weakness usually progresses as the decades go by. Over many years, the lack of hard work that challenges your upper body muscles and bones contributes to a loss of mineralisation in those bones, and osteoporosis, which can be a serious health problem, begins.
The practice of poses that include weight bearing on your arms will build a strong and stable upper body. This will protect any vulnerable shoulder joints and strengthen the muscles and bones to prevent the onset of osteoporosis.
5. Improve your spacial awareness
In order to get into your arm balances you’ll need to understand where your body is in space and activate a variety of muscles to lift off. When we first move into arm balances, especially inverted ones, it’s often difficult to know where we are. We have no idea where the hips are in relation to the shoulders, and get confused about left and right, up and down. Thats understandable.
When you begin your arm balance journey, it can feel awkward and frustrating because you might be unsure of how to get in and out of them, especially because there are so many creative variations. Let this inspire you to develop a deeper understanding of your muscles and centre of balance. As you begin to weave arm balances into your practice, you’ll feel stronger and more self-aware. As awareness improves you deepen your capacity for balance and grace in any orientation.
6. Strengthen your whole body
Many yoga and calisthenics arm balances strengthen and tone the entire body and prepare you for a multitude of other poses. When we try to lift our body up, every part of the body is engaged. Arm balances involve not only the arms but also the core, wrists, shoulders and legs. In fact, every part of the body needs to lift itself in order to take your feet off the ground.
By practicing arm balances, you effectively tone up your whole body and counter a more sedentary lifestyle. As you begin to work arm balances into your yoga practice, it’s important to get into the general shape of the pose and wherever you are, find your edge and build stamina by holding your position. There are so many tools and techniques to help you achieve your goals of finding strength and stability on your arms.
7. Change your perspective
At the very least, an arm balance challenges us to get our faces unusually, and often uncomfortably, close to the ground. Inverted arm balances like headstands and handstands also turn our world upside down. By changing perspective, we can gain greater insights and gain deeper fulfilment. Often seeing something with fresh eyes and shaking up our ‘normal’ daily view has both physical and metaphorical benefits.
Start to notice the moment right before you want to give up on an arm balance. What’s your mind saying? Is it a pattern? As soon as you recognise your internal dialogue or identify your insecurity, turn it into a positive intention and develop a new belief system. If your focus is on something that you perceive to be negative in your life and you come at it from a different angle, then you can feel better about it. What’s more, you might even find that it helps you to perform better as a result. This approach is called reframing and is just one way in which you can derive benefits from gaining new perspectives.
8. Build your resilience
Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’ from stressful or challenging experiences. It involves being able to adapt to changes and approach negative sources of stress as constructively as possible. Your ability to cope with tough times or tough postures allows you to apply your inner and outer strength and engage what you know.
Arm balances are built on commitment and determination. Adding challenging arm balances into your practice can teach you a lot about discipline, but too much hardness in our efforts will get in the way. Learn to be strong, but at the same time supple. Find the steadiness and ease. As much as we need strength, most arm balances also require a great deal of flexibility to get into and hold. The trick is to keep returning to the arm-balancing practice without becoming frustrated or tense.
9. Stay calm in the challenge
Practicing arm balances also teaches us to stay calm in the midst of a challenging situation. Studies on the benefits of yoga show that, yes, yoga is relaxing, but the most significant changes that yoga can bring us, on a neurological level, is that we can learn to calm ourselves down and to keep the breath steady. We learn to relax the features of our face, to keep our thoughts kind even when things get rough. This is worth practicing. Living life from a place of calm response rather than frantic reaction. What we learn on the mat, we hopefully take off the mat and share with the world.
10. Learn to practice self-compassion and letting go
If at first you don’t succeed…
When the balance and lift-off hasn’t come, despite all the effort, this is also a beneficial lesson. So what if it hasn’t happened yet? Didn’t you enjoy having a go? It can be very difficult to not get what you want, to not achieve something you’re working so hard at. It’s easy to get down on yourself and start that all-too-familiar negative self-talk.
Are you able to let go of it all and say, so what? Can you keep yourself light of heart and mind and just keep stepping on your mat without worrying about what you will get out of it?
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.
11. [BONUS] The most important reason of all
Now that you’re armed with all of this knowledge it’s time to get practicing, and I’ve got just the thing. Incorporating my 30 years of experience in yoga, gymnastics and circus arts, I’ve created Ari’s Arm Balance Academy. With eight lessons, 16 arm balances and over four hours of content, there’s a whole lot here to take your skills to the next level.
So what are you waiting for? Get moving, learn from the best and join the academy.JOIN THE ACADEMY