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 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 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 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
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
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 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
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

Yoga 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.


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.


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.


The 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.


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 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

Peak 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!


Peak 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!


Peak 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.


 Peak 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.


Peak 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