Balancing the whole body on the hands requires absolute focus, bringing students deeper into a sense of dharana in their asana practice. Arm balance also brings students closer to a deeply held and perfectly rational fear of falling, a fear that is inextricably interwoven with the ego and the desire at least to be in control. This makes arm balances the perfect asana family for cultivating self confidence and humility. Because most students will find at least some arm balances very challenging, these can be a great place to explore the practice with a sense of humour and playfulness.
The wrists are at greatest risk, practice Downward Facing Dog, 4 Limbed Staff and Plank to build strength and prepare for more weight on the hands.
Students with wrist issues should minimise pressure on the wrists either by refraining from or opting for forearm balances instead until pain free.
Students should have sufficient wrist extension, placing hands flat on the floor and with straight arms, moving their shoulders over them, without strain or pain.
Limited shoulder flexion is one of the primary causes of banana shaped Hand Stands and Forearm Stands. Work on opening the shoulders in preparation.
Arm balances require core engagement and strength whilst maintaining suppleness.
o In introducing arm balances start with simple variations and preparatory practices.
o Sequenced after core work to better feel the abdominal engagement and stability that lends to levity.
o Follow with wrist stretches .