Yoga Arm Balances - Beginner to Advanced

Yoga Arm Balance Poses

 

FIND YOUR BALANCE IN ASANA, AND IN LIFE

Achieving balance is hard. Our work, family, friendships and everything else can pull us in so many directions that staying grounded and stable in body and mind is as difficult as it is valuable. In yoga, we recognize that working with physical balance can help us achieve it in other ways, which is why we practice certain balancing poses. By exploring these asanas — while balancing effort and release, breath and movement, body and mind — we learn to bring poise and stability into our everyday lives.

Below you will find many options to explore some of the most common yoga balance poses: arm balances. Arm balances are great places to start integrating balance into your practice and life more expansively. Working on these asanas will help you build stability in your core and upper body and focus and calm your mind. Although arm balances require strength, learning how to direct energy and adjust your technique will teach you to rely less on power and help you find ease and lightness within each pose.


BUILD STRENGTH AT YOUR PACE, LET YOURSELF WOBBLE!

Of course, with all yoga balance poses it’s important to work progressively, so, in this article, we’ve included options ranging from beginner to advanced. At the top of this page, we list a series of short tutorials that teach you how to move from easy arm balances into progressively more difficult ones as your strength and skill increase. After that is a list of Yoga Classes that integrate arm balances and cater to a variety of skill levels. Then at the bottom, you will find a 21-Day Yoga Challenge that focuses on arm strength, as well as a series of Peak Pose Challenges that guide intermediate and advanced yogis safely toward some of yoga’s more difficult arm balances.

Challenging and fun, arm balances are exciting poses for any yogi to explore. And, if you find yourself wobbling, just remember yoga isn’t about nailing every pose. The poses might be physical but the practice is holistic! Whenever you’re on your mat it’s important to keep a balanced perspective!

 

ARM BALANCE TUTORIALS

Learning to balance on your handsLearning to Balance on Your Hands
Instructor: David Procyshyn
Difficulty: Beginner
Duration: 3:11
It can take time to feel confident when moving into an arm balance. This video uses Crow Pose (Bakasana) to introduce the arm balance fundamentals - controlling your weight with your fingers, using your core muscles to stabilize and lifting away from the ground with energy!

 

Crow Yoga Pose

Crow Pose
Instructor: David Procyshyn
Difficulty: Challenging Beginner
Duration: 2:13

Try this pose first if you're new to arm balances. Crow pose (bakasana) helps you understand how to use your shoulder, arm and core strength to create energy that moves up rather than down. You also learn how to control your center of gravity while strengthening your hands, arms, shoulders, inner thighs and abdominal muscles.
 

Scales Yoga Posture

Scales Pose
Instructor: David Procyshyn
Difficulty: Challenging Beginner
Duration: 3:32

Scales Pose (tolasana) is a simple pose that teaches you, once again, how your core strength connects to the energy and power in your arms and shoulders. You will also need to build the strength in your lower body to create the lift, particularly the hips and hip flexors.
 

Side Crow Pose

Side Crow Pose
Instructor: David Procyshyn
Difficulty: Intermediate
Duration: 3:18

This is a more difficult variation on Crow Pose, and, surprisingly, very different. This pose is great for shoulder and chest strength and is a perfect hand balancing pose if you're up for a little more challenge.
 

One Leg Over Shoulder Pose

One Leg Over Shoulder Pose
Instructor: David Procyshyn
Difficulty: Intermediate
Duration: 2:15

This pose gives one a feeling of power and grace. To rest the leg over your arm requires a significant amount of hip flexibility and to raise the body from the ground demands quite a bit of shoulder, core, hand and arm strength.
 

Peacock Yoga Pose

Peacock Pose
Instructor: David Procyshyn
Difficulty: Challenging Intermediate
Duration: 2:44

This is a very challenging arm balance that effectively tones the abdominals, improves digestion and strengthens the arms, wrists, hands and back.
 

Firefly Pose

Firefly Pose
Instructor: Fiji McAlpine
Difficulty: Advanced
Duration: 2:42

This advanced arm balance pose incorporates core strength with flexibility in the legs. Once the lower body is lifted from the mat, the pose further strengthens the muscles in your hands, wrists and shoulders.


YOGA CLASSES FOR ARM STRENGTH

Fiji McAlpine Dolphin Pose Yoga Shoulder StrengthYoga for Shoulder Strength and Stability
Instructor: Fiji McAlpine
Difficulty: Challenging Beginner
Duration: 15 min
This is a great foundational class for those looking to learn how to stabilize the shoulders properly when doing anything that requires shoulder strength, whether you're doing yoga or not. It's short and sweet, making it accessible to any busy yogi.


Anastasia Hangemole Side Plank Yoga Pose Hatha Yoga for Arm Strength
Instructor: Anastasia Hangemanole
Difficulty: Challenging Beginner
Duration: 27 min
This nicely-paced hatha yoga class strengthens your arms while giving you much-needed breaks between the intense parts. Anastasia's clarity and  enthusiasm make this challenging class a joy.


Tracey Noseworthy Chatturanga Upward Facing Dog Yoga Pose Chatting Chaturanga: A Tutorial 
Instructor: Tracey Noseworthy
Difficulty: Challenging Beginner
Duration: 17 min
Another great foundational class, this one focuses on a common pose in vinyasa-style yoga classes called chaturanga. It isn't an arm balance pose, but what you learn will apply to everything you do when supporting the body with your arms.


Fiji McAlpine Yoga Pose Arm BalanceThe Space Within Us with Fiji McAlpine
Instructor: Fiji McAlpine
Difficulty: Challenging Intermediate
Duration: 39 min
In this beautiful vinyasa flow, Fiji helps you experience lightness, expansion and space in your practice as she guides you through poses including challenging arm balances, headstand and foot balances.  


Dragonfly Yoga Pose Crista Shillington Superfly Dragonfly
Instructor: Crista Shillington
Difficulty: Advanced
Duration: 64 min
Crista gradually builds intensity in this class, leading you toward maksikanagasana (grasshopper or dragonfly pose in english). It's one of the most difficult balancing asanas in yoga, since it requires a lot of core and shoulder strength, as well as flexibility in the legs, hips and spine.


YOGA CHALLENGES

Get String Shoulders & Arms 21-Day Yoga ChallengeGet Strong! Shoulders and Arms 21-Day Yoga Challenge
Difficulty: Intermediate
Classes: 21
This 21-day yoga challenge satisfies the needs of anyone looking to strengthen their upper body, while fitting a daily practice around a busy schedule.. Challenging classes alternate with more gentle ones and each week finishes with a class focussed on relaxing and stretching to let your body recover. It’s a balanced approach that ensures you develop a stronger upper body without risking burnout or injury.


PEAK POSE CHALLENGES

Crista Shillington Yoga Pose Headstand Peakpose ChallengePeak Pose: Headstand
Instructor: Crista Shillington
Difficulty: Intermediate
Classes: 3
Headstand pose (sirsasana) requires more arm strength and flexibility than many people anticipate. Crista teaches you how to prepare your body, gain the necessary strength and flexibility and move in and out of headstand pose safely. It's called the 'king of poses' for a reason! Nailing it rules!


Firefly Pose Fiji McAlpine Yoga Peak PosePeak Pose: Firefly with Fiji McAlpine
Instructor: Fiji McAlpine
Difficulty: Challenging Intermediate
Classes: 3
This pose makes you feel like a superhero when you finally get it! Fiji makes this challenging pose accessible, giving you the tools you need and ample opportunity to practice. Master the technique and everything else falls into place!


Tracey Noseworthy Flying Pigeon Peak Pose YogaPeak Pose: Flying Pigeon
Instructor: Tracey Noseworthy
Difficulty: Advanced
Classes: 3
This 3-class series designed by Tracey leads you to eka pada galavasana, or flying pigeon pose, an arm balance that makes you feel like you are truly flying! . Her creative flow helps open your body, strengthen your core and shoulders and prepare you mentally for the peak in class number three. You can do the classes back-to-back or over a 3 to 5 day period.


Forearm Balance Yoga Peak Pose Fiji McAlpinePeak Pose: Forearm Balance
Instructor: Fiji McAlpine
Difficulty: Advanced
Classes: 4
Fiji uses 4 classes to teach you the key aspects of pincha mayurasana, or forearm balance, a pose striven for by many dedicated yoga students. Her attention to detail and clarity will help you understand body positioning, focus and how to gain the strength you need to move into and hold a forearm balance.


Eka Pada Koundinyasana I Peak Yoga Pose Crista ShillingtonPeak Pose: Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya I
Instructor: Crista Shillington
Difficulty: Advanced
Classes: 2
Crista presents an efficient, creatively designed and thorough progression toward a very difficulty pose, which in english is called "pose dedicated to the sage koundinya i" and in sanskrit eka pada koundinyasana i. Her playful energy and gradual approach make this 2-class series an absolute joy for all levels, even if you don't get to the peak pose in class 2.

 

MORE RESOURCES

We hope you enjoy this exploration into yoga balance poses. If you would like to take a dive into foot balances, check out our article:

Learn to Master Standing Balance Poses

 

Share this post

Comments

bruises on upper arms
amyxinfinity 1 month ago

I've been having fun working on crow and flying pigeon for the last week or so and have made a lot of improvement and want to keep going . But I have developed some little bruises on the backs of my upper arms where I rest my legs and they're a bit sore. I've only been doing each pose once or twice a day. Am I doing something wrong?

Re: bruises on upper arms
David Procyshyn 1 month ago

One of the hardest things to do in arm balances - but the one thing that will allow you to progress quickly - is to always lift, from your hands to the top of your body (in the case of crow, lift your hips!). In other words, much of the effort is put into creating lightness, lifting away from the floor and softening the pressure of the knees on the arms. It requires a lot of strength and a strong connection to your inner strength in particular (bandhas). Does that make sense?

Yes that is helpful and I
amyxinfinity 1 month ago

Yes that is helpful and I feel I am doing a better job at the pose keeping lift and lightness in mind. Thank you.

Super useful
MariamS 2 months ago

Thank you for putting all this information together in one place here. This is really helpful and I love the way it's been organized, from the mini tutorials to the longer challenges.

One question
Dusty Cobwebs 2 months ago

I'm finding difficulty with certain poses such as lotus, for example, due to searing pain from my ankles digging into my legs. The same with crow, the pressure from contact on my skin is very painful and preventing me from progressing. Any suggestions how I tackle this problem? Many thanks also for all that you do.

Re: One question
David Procyshyn 2 months ago

Hi there. The solution in lotus is an easy one. Simply put padding between your ankles and your legs, like a folded sock or hand towel. For crow, it's a little harder to add padding and I don't have any other recommendations. Perhaps you could try with thicker yoga pants on?

Many thanks David, I never
Dusty Cobwebs 1 month ago

Many thanks David, I never thought of that and will give your sock tip a try.

For me, what makes the
joshyoyoyoga 1 month ago

For me, what makes the difference is skin dryness. I noticed that if I'm feeling dehydrated or if my skin is dry simply due to the winter months, I experience significantly more abrasive pain on the skin on my legs and feet (for poses like lotus) and on my triceps (for arm balances). Not sure if this is what is part of the trouble for you, but moisturizing regularly and drinking tons of water helped alleviate this problem for me.

Thank you for the advice, I
Dusty Cobwebs 1 month ago

Thank you for the advice, I'll pay closer attention to my hydration and see if that makes a difference.

On the way to forearm stand
Audinette 3 months ago

I have been wanting to do a forearm stand for....ever but there is fear and not enough balance between arm strength and core. I am sure I will find some guidance here! Merci!

Just what I needed
dstorey821 3 months ago

As I was scouring my yoga books on learning proper techniques for arm balances, up pops this wonderful blog. All layed out nice and neat easy to hard with classes for strengthening arms and shoulders. Thank you David (and all the wonderful instructors) once again you’ve proven this is the place to learn and grow.