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
Eka Pada Bakasana
Glavasana* (See, foot sticking right out of that armpit!)
And, of course,
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!