Yoga instructor Dylan Werner shares his advice for perfecting these five arm balances.
Fitness lends itself to quantifiable goals: a time to beat, a weight to lift, a distance to reach. But there’s also artistry involved, and the opportunity to cultivate a skill and become a master. So when a challenge comes along that’s as difficult to nail as it is awesome-looking, it’s almost impossible for an insatiable athlete to resist. Hence the surging popularity of arm balances, yoga-inspired poses that require an impressive combination of strength, balance and focus—and happen to look amazing on Instagram feeds.
LA-based Equinox yoga instructor Dylan Werner has become something of a posterboy for the arm-balance movement, and while he was initially drawn to the balances as “fancy tricks,” he says he now uses them to find a meditative state: “It’s exciting—you can find your own perfect place of equilibrium and homeostasis where everything feels right.” In the slideshow above, Werner shares shares his secrets to mastering all sorts of arm poses, from entry-level-plus to expert.
1. Hollow Back
“This is my favourite pose,” say Werner. “It makes me feel centred and controlled, flexible and balanced. It’s a chest and heart opener, which makes it associated with the heart chakra – which is tied to love.”
The good news for novices is that if you have a solid handstand, you can probably manage this too.
Start in a handstand and kick your legs up against a wall. Pull one knee into the chest and look up at it. Push your chest forward through the arms, and when you feel steady, slide your leg down to bend the knee (as opposed to pushing it off the wall) and continue to play with your balance.
“Remember that it’s a shoulder-opener, not a back-bend,” Werner advises. “The more you bring your chest forward, the more your back leg comes down.”
Also: Keep your gaze up toward your belly button or the sky.
Requiring scapular strength and total body engagement, this balance is the souped-up version of crow pose: The knees don’t rest on the elbows, and the heels come close to the glutes. “You can learn straight arm scapula strength from practicing plank,” says Werner. “And if you start at a plank, you round out through the top of the black, draw your knees into your chest and use your core to raise one foot at a time.”
3. Single-Arm Peacock
“Of all the single-arm balances, this is the easiest,” Werner explains. The pose’s most obvious challenge is balancing all your weight on one hand, but it also requires a strong, straight core: “If you put a hinge in the middle of anything, it’s almost impossible to balance it – and your body is no different,” Werner says. With that in mind, start with your hands on the ground and your chest lifted with your back arched. Use your back muscles to lift your legs off the ground; then raise your non-weight bearing arm. If your legs feel heavy, try putting them in lotus position, as it makes the hips easier to lift.
4. Air Baby
While it looks like this pose is about getting the knee to the elbow, “the strength actually comes from squeezing the side body to pull the thigh into the arm,” Werner says. “It’s about lifting the chest and stacking the hips like you would in a side plank.” It’s also one of the most difficult single-arm balances, explains Werner. “It’s one of those poses you have to practice for years. I can only hold it for a minute or so – it’s quite strength intensive.”
5. One-Arm Handstand
“The difference between a handstand and a one-arm handstand is like the difference between walking a mile and walking a thousand miles,” says Werner. “Anyone can pop up on one arm for a second, but to actually hold it takes dedication.” To go from two arms to one, start from a handstand with your legs straddled (which distributes your weight to make this balance easier). Focus on pushing into the ground with your standing hand, stsacking all your weight into that balance point. With practice, your other hand will being to feel light enough to lift off the gournd. “This is the pinnacle of the handstand journey,” says Werner. “It takes time to get there, but once you do, you have a world of new leg and arm variations to explore.”
Article sourced from Q by Equinox.