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Arm Balances


It can be so easy to get rattled by arm balances.

We constantly see these asanas in yoga studios, on posters, via Instagram and Pinterest, as though they are the epitome of a successful yogi. But these intimidating poses aren’t reserved for advanced yogis only. With this month’s practices on the Soul Sanctuary and a previous month on the membership dedicated to arm balances, anyone can learn the tips, tricks, and safe ways of preparing the body and mind, in order to gain lift off.

The key lies in the preparation of the mind and the body, your strength, mobility, flexibility, and stability, your willingness to practice consistently, embracing your fears, creating stability, and being aware of your ego.


So the big question - why practice arm balance in the first place?

All balance poses, whether, on hands, forearms, head, legs, or feet require us to be in the complete present moment and have mental focus.

Arm balances are a playful and curious way to use our bodies and advance our practice. There are many modifications, drills, tips, and tricks for yogis of all levels to practice in order to experience the benefits of these poses.

There are also numerous reasons why bringing arm balances into your practice is encouraged, including:

✨ Balancing poses help us to connect to the present moment.
✨ Help us to face fears that may arise.
✨ Increase your self-confidence and courage.
✨ Increase your flexibility, mobility, core and shoulder, and arm and wrist strength.
✨ Help strengthen your mental focus.
✨ Assist in engaging the Bandhas (the energy locks in the body).
✨ They challenge us and our practice.


This is one of the most important tips for approaching arm balances safely. Practicing drills to increase the strength in your arms, shoulders, and wrists is crucial, as you are weight-bearing on these parts of your body. Awareness of your shoulder blades is also just as important, as these need to help support your arms, especially when you’re in a straight arm balance. Wrist strengthening drills and therapy following or during practices are also really key.

As with all balance poses, we rely heavily on our core to keep us stable, so it is important to increase core strength and stability and keep this engaged throughout practice.

Both flexibility and mobility in these asanas are crucial and understanding the difference between the two is also extremely helpful. It is quite a common error that mobility and flexibility are often considered one and the same thing, when in fact they are two different concepts.

Flexibility - is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to lengthen passively through a range of motion.

Mobility - is the overall active range of motion a person has within their body, most noticeably within the joints.
There are two types of mobility: isolation of a body part or muscle area, and structural balance, which is how balanced and mobile your body is as a whole.



Learning how and where to strategically place your body weight in balance postures is key to achieving lift-off and holding the balance. This will be different for everyone and comes with practice and play. This is also connected to the term ‘find your centre’, which we often hear yoga teachers cue in classes during balancing sequences.

Finding your centre can be both the physical term of distributing your weight evenly to help ‘centre’ yourself within a posture, and also spiritually, which means returning to self-awareness. The term ‘centering’ helps you to detach and disconnect from all of the things asking for your attention at a given time.

Both the physical and spiritual terms of ‘finding your centre’ help significantly when learning and taking flight on the mat. Having a strong ‘centre’ will help with leaning into the ‘fear’ of falling and counterbalancing in the asanas.


Approaching the mat with a sense of playfulness and curiosity helps us learn and navigate the practice and life with more resilience and joy in our hearts.

Set up a safe space with lots of pillows and soft things around you, and allow yourself to practice, fall, get up, and try again. Giving yourself a safe and soft space to lean into the fear will also help you to find your tipping point or the correct weight distribution balance as mentioned above.

Remove the pressure and idea of needing to be perfect. Falling isn’t failing, it is growing in strength, durability, and fun. It is a reminder to be present in your process. To be consistent and to keep practicing.


Drishti is the Sanskrit term for sight, direction, or focused gaze. It refers to the yoga practice of finding a point of focus where your gaze rests while you hold a certain asana accompanied by meditation. Through Drishti, you can cultivate a deeper level of concentration and tune into the sensations of the body in every asana, so that you’re practicing with full awareness.

Your point of focus is incredibly important when it comes to maintaining your balance. Picking a spot ahead of you for your gaze (not looking down as we naturally want to), will help you feel more stable and lifted in the pose. As you move into an arm balance, focus on the spot ahead of you to maintain your Drishti gaze.

In Ashtanga, there are nine possible Drishtis, including:

1 – Tip of the nose – Nasagra Drishti
2 – Up to space – Urdva Drishti
3 – Third Eye – Brumadya Drishti
4 – Tip of the middle finger – Hastagra Drishti
5 – Tip of the thumb – Angushta Drishti
6 – Right Side – Parshva Drishti
7 – Left Side – Parshva Drishti
8 – Navel – Nabi Drishti
9 – Tip of the big toe – Padagra Drishti

“Arm balances and inversions are a challenging part of the physical practice, but they teach us so much more than needing to be strong. These shapes allow us the chance to move with - and through - fear, giving us opportunities to learn more about the mind as we attempt each shape and let go of the fear of falling or failure. They teach us to find playfulness and to surrender to the ego, something we need more of in everyday life ”.
- Cat Meffan


This month on the Soul Sanctuary, we move through sequences and practices that help prepare the body and the mind for a range of arm balances. We focus on building mental awareness, drills that will help build strength in the wrists, arms, shoulders and core, sequences that enhance your flexibility and mobility, and show you ways to practice safely and with playfulness.

Arm Balance Masterclass:

 We also have a very exciting ‘Arm Balance’ Masterclass coming to the membership from guest teacher and amazing yogi:
Joaquin Gomez.


Meet Joa Gomez:

Born in Argentina, and raised in Ibiza, Joa Gomez has been involved with movement and wellness his whole life. Being an ex-athlete and musician, he combines physical exercise with inner self-discovery.

His classes vary between traditional yogic practices, mobility, gymnastics, and athletic conditioning to help strengthen the body as well as creating flexibility and endurance in an all-rounded manner.

He focuses on alignment and self-exploration as he believes it is key to developing a safe and lasting practice within the parameters of one's own individuality.

"The art of balancing is for dreamers, for those who want to fly ... When you are able to visualise your dream so clear, when you're able to focus, you move from dreaming about life, to living the dream"

Joa - VSit

In week one, we have a 60-minute creative flow exploring a number of different arm balances (with modifications) and some wrist therapy.

In our second week, we have a 30-minute flow that is all about getting the whole body prepared for arm balances in order to take flight. This dives deeper into the mental as well as the physical.
We also have our monthly meditation which peels back the layers and added pressures, allowing you to feel and sit within the beauty that comes with simplicity.

The third week brings a playful practice that is all about finding our centre and working with weight distribution and counterbalance. This practice leans into the common fears we feel when practicing arm balances and how we can look at doing this safely and with joy.

In our final week, we have a 20-minute Bent Arm Strength practice which includes drills that power up our arms, shoulders, and core. We also have our Movement Breakdown, where we dive deeper into the asana Parsva Bhuja Dandasana, also referred to as ‘dragonfly’ pose.

As always, we have our suggested Soul Sanctuary flows from the back catalogue (in black) that align with this month’s theme, mapped out below in our printable calendar. You can also find these additional practices in the calendar function on our beautiful app or search for them on the membership via desktop.

And don’t forget to practice along with our monthly playlist HERE

Remember to come to the mat this month with a sense of playfulness and curiosity.

Even if arm balances aren’t part of your practice yet, there is SO much you can gain by including the drills and modifications in the practices this month, within your own practice moving forward.

For anyone new to yoga and looking for a way to start, we have launched our new ‘30-Day Beginners Yoga Course’ on the membership for you to practice from the comfort of your own home. Explore our membership options below for more details.

Can’t wait to see you on the mat this month x

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