My yoga journey started in the month of January 2015. I was in the middle of an inconsistent workout plan. I wasn’t strong, I could barely run and I struggled to keep myself motivated every evening after a long day at work. But I tried, I tried hard to be fit and change my lifestyle.
I don’t remember what triggered me to move towards yoga but within few weeks of my first Suryanamaskar I found myself spending 60 to 90 minutes every evening practicing and learning new yoga asanas in the comforts of my apartment. My source of knowledge were articles on the internet and YouTube videos by Kino Yoga, Sarah Beth Yoga and Yoga by Candance. I was very careful and didn’t try to push myself too hard for the fear of injuring myself.
The journey to balancing started with very basic beginner poses like the tree pose and the tilting tree pose. And even then it took me few weeks to learn to stay still in a Vkrasana for a couple of breaths.
I spent the first few months working on my flexibility and core strength. Planks used to make me cry. I would fall with every side plank (Vasisthasana) I tried to do. And Chaturanga Dandasana (low plank) was an impossibility. My arms didn’t have enough strength to hold the weight of my body. The only thing that helped me was Persistence. I kept trying. Slowly I was able to transition from Downward-dog to Chaturanga Dandasana to cobra. I practiced different Hatha Yoga poses and sequences – starting with Suryanamaskar, moving on to standing leg stretches, seated stretches, backbends and in the end, inversion.
And then in about 5 months time I held my first ever proper Bakasana. Bakasana isn’t just about arm strength, it requires core strength and a correct gaze. I was a slow learner but I learnt.
I started practicing more Bakasanas and baby bakasana to increase my core strength. I had also started learning inversions, and tripod-stand was one of the first inversions I learnt.
My most awesome magical moment was when I did my first handstand in early 2016. It took a long time for me to get there, but I felt a great sense of achievement. I have never been involved in any sports that required strength or balancing. Handstand is something that I thought would never be possible by someone like me. Most days, at the end of my practice, I would jump near the wall at least 50 times, with hope that maybe my legs will lift and hit the wall. It continued for over 7-8 months before I could finally hold a handstand. As I said, the key is persistence.
I fell – A LOT. Thankfully, my previous house had carpet flooring, so no damages were done, except for a few broken clothes-line and some chairs too 🙂
I still can’t hold a handstand without wall support, but I am learning.
Yoga hollowback handstand variation
After that I started exploring other arm balances like Side crow and Fallen Angel. Fallen Angel looks totally weird but it is way easier than some other arm balances. I learnt this pose from a Youtube Video by Sarabethyoga – link
Similarly, I loved the tips that Sarah shared on her channel for Side crow. I felt side crow is slightly easier than Bakasana, if you know where to place your knees.
You would be surprised how differently each side of the body responds. Strangely, I am very awkward on my right side, even though I am a right handed person. I have to put safety cushions around me whenever I repeat the pose on the right side.
3 Tips for Arm balances
Be Patient – This is going to be a long journey. And if like me, you are doing it all alone, then patience is a necessity. Our body can do amazing things, things that will leave you surprised. Love it, let it grow, don’t let ego get hold of it.
Strengthen your Core – You would need a strong core to lift and maintain balance. Plank poses and Navasana (boat pose) help in increasing the abdominal muscle strength.
Flexibility – If you are able to hold a plank position well enough, then along with core strength, you would also need flexibility to do arm balances. Asanas like Astavakrasana (8 Angle pose), even Bakasana, require hip flexibility just to get the knee over the tricep. Low lunge, Lizard pose, Cradling the leg like a baby are great poses to improve hip flexibility – link
I really hope this post is helpful to anyone who is on their arm balancing journey. Keep practicing.
Stay strong and humble 🙂