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    Thursday, April 5, 2012

    Arm Balances for Energy and Strength

    When spring hits, I'm usually ready to start moving my body more and building strength.  I put together this sequence of arm balances that builds upper body and core strength and can teach you how to move your body more fluidly.  Whatever your motivation is for doing arm balances, I want you to forget about it for this sequence, and instead bring your mind only into the now.  Do this sequence without grasping for an outcome.  Be in each moment paying attention to the minute details of your body.  You will find that you will build strength, gain energy, and learn to move better.

    Start this sequence with this relaxation exercise:  We Begin With the Breath

    In this sequence, engage mula bandha and uddiyana bandha while maintaining relaxed free breathing.  If you don't know what these are, find out!  When doing yoga postures, it's important to understand these concepts in order to protect your spine and actually build strength.  The best way to understand them is to find a qualified teacher to teach you or find a video or book about them and practice, practice, practice!  I teach them in my Yoga for Shoulders DVD.  

    Of course, throughout the sequence, BREATHE FULLY! Focus on fluid movement, never pushing through any pain.  Always stay within a pain free range of motion.  

    Next, do these two warm-up exercises:

    Pullovers: for directions Go Here You can read the article or scroll down the page to get step-by-step instructions.

    Mountain Pose Variation: for directions, Go Here

    Next, do some Cat/Cows with your breath to warm up your spine and wrists and then go into a Half Dog.  


    Down Dog


    Side Plank

    Back to Plank, then Side Plank to the other side and then back to Plank.  Repeat as many as you want.  Rest in Child's Pose if you need.  Go back into Down Dog and then:

    Crane Pose--this pose also needs some flexibility in the hips.  Don't force the pose, works slowly into it.  If you find you're really stiff, go into a forward bend with your knees deeply bent and hang out for awhile.  Then try to the pose again.  If your hips just won't do that, don't worry about it, just work on your hip flexibility and come back at it another day!

    Scales Pose--sit cross-legged and place your hands beside your hips.  Keep your collarbones broad and chest open, as you engage your core, push into your hands and try to lift your legs and pelvis off the floor.  Again, don't force it if your hips aren't flexible enough or if this hurts your wrists.  

    To end, do another round of Pullovers, then take at least a 5-minute Savasana, Corpse Pose: 

    Fully release!

    Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!  

    The tank I'm wearing for Plank, Side Plank, Crane, and Scales is from Soulflower