Foundational Arm Balance Flow
Shoulders, Balance, Core, Arms
This fun yoga sequence moves through some foundational arm balances that can open the door to more advanced postures.
Half Sissy Squat
Stand near the top of the mat. Rise up onto the toes, and then engage the core and the quads. Reach the arms forward actively. Begin to bend the knees without bending at the hips, while leaning the upper body backwards. The weight of the chest leaning back will counterbalance the weight of the hips leaning forward. Make one straight line from knees to shoulders as you lower, moving as slowly as possible. Once your knees are hovering a few centimeters off the ground, bend at the hips to bring the seat backwards into a yogic squat (Malasana).
Yogic Squat (Malasana)
Sink the hips downwards with the feet flat and grounded. Shine the chest forward and work to take any curve out of the upper back. Hands can come to prayer (Anjali Mudra) in front of the chest so that the elbows gently push the knees apart, if desired. While adjustments can be made for each individual, assure that the knees are pointing in the same direction as the feet.
Bring the knees into the armpits and plant the hands firmly on the mat. Begin to lean the chest forward, bringing weight into the hands as the feet lift off the ground and the arms remain straight. If you would prefer to take Crow (Bakasana), bring the knees to the back of the elbows and bend the arms instead so that the joints can stack on top of one another. Press firmly through the pads of the knuckles and push downward through the fingertips to avoid overbalancing (falling forward). Bring shins parallel toe the ground and point the toes.
Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
From Crane (Kakasana) or Crow (Bakasana) shoot the legs backwards while bending into the arms and landing at the bottom of a push up. Elbows pull tightly in towards the rips as the shoulder blades move towards one another. Core remains engaged with navel pulling in towards the spine.
Peacock Prep (Mayurasana Prep)
From Chaturanga, bring the knees to the ground and sit back on the tops of the feet. Bring the knees wide with the toes together to create a V with the legs. Place the hands between the legs so they plant by the shins with the fingers facing the feet. Lean the body forward so that the elbows come to meet the lower abdominals, just above the hip bones.
Begin to lean weight into the arms as you step one leg back, then the other. This should look like a plank but with the arms supporting the mid-body. Engage the core and begin to lean the chest forward. As you shift forward, the legs will automatically lift off the mat. Remain engaged and rigid through core and legs as you find a balance point.
Come out of Peacock and sit back on the heels, as you were in Peacock Prep. From there, reach the hands towards the top of the mat and let the upper body relax over the legs.
Dolphin (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana)
From Childs, lift the hips and chest while keeping the forearms rooted on the ground and parallel to one another. Then begin to straighten the legs, so that the legs and torso come to a Downward Facing Dog position. Protract the shoulder blades and engage the arms. Imagine you’re pressing a block between the forearms. Check in with the lower body by finding a slight arch in the lower back and reaching the heels towards the ground.
Forearm Stand (Pincha Mayurasana)
From Dolphin, lift the right leg up in the air. Begin to shift your center of gravity forward towards the top of the mat while actively pushing down with the shoulders. Contract the core, pulling navel to spine, and gently hop of the grounded leg. As your body weight shifts forward and legs lift, press actively through the hands as if they’re brakes preventing you from over balancing. Find a place of tension where your brakes are activated, but only slightly. Engage the legs and keep the lower body tight.
Forearm Plank (Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana)
From Forearm Stand, allow the legs to slowly lower back down to the ground. Stay on the forearms, while walking the legs to a plank position. Remain protracted through the shoulders, with the hips lifted to shoulder height. Contract the core by isometrically (without actually moving) pulling the feet towards the elbows. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. then cycle through a Vinyasa and repeat on the opposite side.