Arms are for hugging – and for defying gravity like a freaking ninja!

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I love arm balances.  I mean, I REALLY love arm balances.  They are probably my favorite poses in the whole library of yoga postures out there.  I do them at every chance I get and I teach them eagerly when given the right circumstances.  They make me ridiculously happy.  I do them at Yoga Sol, at home, in public places, in private, pretty much everywhere.

This has not always been the case.  There was a long time when I would look at you like you had a foot sticking out of your armpit  if you suggested I could or should balance on my arms or hands.  This, clearly, was before I regularly started sticking my foot out of my armpit*, but I digress.  I spent a long time looking at my yoga teachers the same way my students look at me when I introduce a new way to fly.  When I look out at my students and get 14 pairs of hairy eyeballs,  I tell them this true story:

I did yoga for probably 12 years before I ever attempted an arm balance.  For some insane reason, I thought that I needed to go to India and study in an Ashram, or to do 108 Sun Salutes every day for 108 days, or dress a chicken in a prom dress and circle it backwards 14 times before I should give it a go. (What can I say?  I’ve learned a lot.)

One day in a relatively gentle class at the gym filled with many older students, there was a sub teaching.  We were moving and flowing and sweating and grooving to the music and then, wham bam, she had us all try Bakasana.

WHAT THE WHAT?  Full stop.

90% of the class just stopped.  I actually laughed out loud.  And then, out of no where, I tried it.  And I fell.  And I laughed out loud.  And I tried it again.  And I fell.  And I didn’t laugh.  And I tried it again.  And I got it.  I held it for 4 breaths, came down, and felt like I had just taken over the world.  I was invincible!  Well, okay, not invincible so much as EMPOWERED.

Yes, empowered.  Empowered to take chances, to take risks, to put my heart above my head, to trust that I won’t fall (or, if I do, I’ll be okay.)  I felt empowered to be powerful, empowered to be brave, empowered to be strong, empowered to be a freaking gravity defying ninja yogini!  I loved it – and I still do.  The only thing I love as much as doing arm balances and inversions is teaching them because I LOVE watching people realize they, too, can fly.

Some of my favorites (and believe me, they are ALL easier than they look. I promise.  Just take a chance!)

Bakasana and Parsva Bakasana

Eka Pada Koundinyasana

Completely not the most flattering angle, but you can see nothing but hands on the ground!

Astavakrasana

Eka Pada Bakasana

Glavasana*  (See, foot sticking right out of that armpit!)

Pincha Mayurasana

And, of course,

Sirsasana

And Ardha Muka Vrksasana

Go on. Be a Ninja.  You know you want to.  Just take a deep breath, take a chance, and use your arms!

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One response »

  1. I felt the same way the first time that I did Bakasana. I can now do Handstand, headstand and Pincha Mayurasana. Im at the beginning of getting Scorpion now too! It is totally Empowering!

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