I hear this one a lot as a hesitation for new students who are doubtful of their own potential. While is it indeed true that arm balances require some arm strength... there is SO much more going on in your body to make these postures come together. There is a significant amount of muscular coordination required in each arm balance, but the good news is that there are also many parallel concepts that can be applied across various postures. For example, once the concept of pushing the ground away clicks for you in Crow Pose, it will start making sense in Hurdler's Pose!
Alignment is key to finding the most efficient organization of your body, and the more you can improve movement efficiency, the less strain and stress and wear you place on your joints. The aim is to evenly distribute load/force upon your bones and work across your muscles. The arms are not the only part of your body doing work. You must think of the entire body working together.
Spoiler alert: The secret of mastering these skills is... practice, practice, practice.
I know. You know. But we all need to be reminded of this whenever we try something new. No one is an expert the first time they try. Mastery takes diligence, patience and the relentless pursuit of learning.
Pro tips for improving your arm balance practice:
Change any negative self-talk into something positive. Drop the phrase "I can't." Rephrase it into a workable solution. What part or step or variation of the pose or exercise CAN you practice today? There will always be something you can work on. Even the smallest steps like simply spending more time bearing a little more weight on your hands is building your strength in the right direction to eventually balance all your weight on your hands.
Keep in mind the posture never ends and the learning never ends. There is no "perfect performance" in yoga. Enjoy the process and the work. There will be stumbles and there will be breakthroughs. Embrace them all.
Understand that everyone's journey and everyone's body is different. In the age of social media, it's hard to not feel bad about yourself when you see other people's seemingly perfect lives in their highlight reel of what they choose to share online. I know I’ve been guilty of this for sure lately. Free yourself from comparison and see how much you bloom.
Be compassionate with yourself and patient with your body. Every day is different. Progress and strength building takes time and nothing happens overnight.
Breathe. Breath is your prana, your life force. When you lose control of your breath, you lose control. Sometimes adrenaline and excitement of a posture cause us to hold the breath, however holding the breath during an arm balance will only increase the speed at which your muscles fatigue and you fall out. Learn to steady the breath during the balance and you'll find yourself being able to hold the postures for longer and longer.
Listen to your body. There is a difference between discomfort and PAIN. Some of the deep stretches I teach inside Intro to Arm Balances may be somewhat uncomfortable, but keep in mind you should be able to BREATHE through it. If you experience pain during your practice, back out of the posture and try working with a range where you do not experience pain.
Are you ready to learn more about arm balances and how to take your practice to the next level? My Intro to Arm Balance course will help you learn the fundamental skills for safely and confidently progressing your practice. You get 40 lessons across 10 weeks, but you can work through the course at your own pace. Learn more here.
Or ready to jump in?