On Sunday I attended the Yoga Arm Balance Clinic I signed up for a few weeks ago and I loved it! One of my goals this year is to do a proper arm balance (free standing, no wall cuz thats cheating!), so this clinic was a great way to kick start that goal!
It was a small class of 10 students with my favorite yoga instructor Stacey. She led us through the basic components of doing arm balance poses: engaging the right parts of the core, aligning the shoulders and arms correctly and tips to practice until we got there! To help with that, we used props (a physio ball, 2 blocks and a small red squishy ball) to help us ‘feel’ what a proper arm balance should resemble .
The first thing we did was learn the C curve by placing the red squishy ball at our mid back while seated on the ground with our legs extended. We sort of hunched forward with the goal of putting our lower back against the ground (arms in front, straight out like we were pushing the air). You can also do this by standing against a wall and work to have no gaps between your back and the wall. We practiced this ‘C’ curve in a plank on the physio ball (shins on top of the ball) and then rolled up our butts in the air for a few seconds, just to get the feel of the core engaged. In both practice exercises, I could feel my upper core and lower belly engaged as well as the center of my sternum (all the right places!).
For the arms: It is important to keep the insides of your arms (the creases of elbows) facing forward, while your elbows face back. We practiced the combos in the plank poses (with and without the physioball): keeping creases forward, the back ‘open’ (hunched), ‘tail tucked’ under, and shoulders down (not up by ears), aka doing the C curve position on our hands rather than on our butts.
…well this is my weakest part. I had no problem holding this in plank, but when we were practicing handstands against the mirrors (shhh don’t tell the gym!) my elbows had a tendency to splay outward, meaning they were facing right and left rather than the back wall. THIS IS NOT GOOD FORM! Stacey said that can happen when kicking the legs up to go into a handstand and suggested to just correct them once I was up, which I struggled to do… She said that with more practice in plank (on ground and with the ball), it will get easier for me to correct in the future and eventually it will become second nature. Homework for sure! Another way we practiced this ‘elbow’ feeling (through overemphasis), was to put a block between our elbows and squeeze them together. Kind of like what I’m doing in the picture to the right, but with a block in between.
Once I master the C curve, arm positioning and strengthen my core just a bit more, I should be able to do ANY balance pose with ease! P.S. One mistake many people make when doing hand stands is called the ‘banana back mistake‘. Its what naturally happens if you go up into a handstand and don’t align your body straight, which can lead to injuries and weakening of muscles over time. Check out more info here on this gymnast website and scroll to banana back mistake. Overall I had a great time and would love to attend another workshop if she holds one in the future!
Can you do a handstand? Would you ever want to learn?